Whenever I read an article about how to eat organically on a budget, there is always a mention of buying from the bulk bins. The bulk bins have organic whole grains, dried fruits, candies, nuts, and other items that can be scooped in bulk. 

While they usually are a good value, they can be intimidating. Rows of organic oats: steel cut, slow cooking, quick cooking. If you grew up ripping open a packet of maple and brown sugar oatmeal like I did, those oats in the bulk bin can cause confusion. And the rice - brown, white, basmati, jasmine, long grain, short grain... AHHHHH! Where's the Minute Rice? 

Don't go running to the packaged food isle. It's time to tackle the whole grains in the bulk bins, one bin at a time.  

You know you're supposed to be eating more whole grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel which includes the bran, the germ and the endosperm. They are high in fiber. They are good for you. Very good for you. 

About a year ago, I decided to tackle the bulk bins myself. I started by scooping out a cup of whatever caught my eye, then coming home and finding a way to use it. 

If you want to start tackling the bulk bins, I suggest you start with basmati brown rice. Brown basmati is very high in fiber and has a strong flavor. It's very easy to cook, but it takes about 50 minutes so you need to give yourself enough time. This isn't Uncle Ben's. 

Here is the basic method for cooking one cup of organic brown basmati rice (it will yield about 3 cups of cooked rice)

  1. Put two cups of water or organic broth (chicken or vegetable works well) in pot that has a tight fitting lid. Add rice.
  2. Bring to a boil. Stir and place on tight lid (I prefer to use a glass lid so I can see the rice's progress).
  3. Reduce to a light simmer and cook with lid on until all liquid has been absorbed - start checking at 40 minutes. It should take about 50 minutes. 
  4. Remove from heat and serve.

If cooked with broth, the rice will have plenty of flavor. I cook it with organic chicken broth and serve it as is. My husband and I like to add a little salt. My six year old son loves it plain. He'll eat the leftovers for breakfast. 

Start with one item at a time if the bulk bins intimidate you. Try one a week or one every other week. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Tackling the bulk bins: basmati brown rice
Does your head swim trying to figure out if you need white rice, brown rice, basmati rice, or jasmin rice when you stand in front of the bulk bins? That's okay.