This week my grocery budget was less than usual, as I had this unexpected dental fee. My grocery budget for the fur babies cannot change, so I have to be flexible on my food budget. Since I stock up on bulk bin items once a month at the Co-op, I can survive the lean weeks without having to eat the same thing day in, and day out. Many people can/prefer to eat the same meals, but I like variety. If you have a variety of beans, a few grains and pastas, you can spend a few bucks on a little bit of fresh veg, and live like a Queen, or King.
In my pantry, starting with pasta, I try to keep one long noodle (angel hair, linguini, etc.), one short, and usually one gluten free. (I look for sales) I also usually keep one type of rice noodle, for Pad Thai, and stir fries. If you have a Wegman's in your area, they have great deals on rice noodles.
For my grains, I keep of course white and brown rice. I usually buy jasmine or basmati, I love the smell. I discovered millet awhile ago, and I love it for soups. It breaks down if you cook it long enough, and becomes creamy. I've also made a breakfast type porridge with millet. Yum. And it is so cheap in the bulk bins. I usually keep a heartier grain like farro, or barley on hand, as they are great in salads, and lentil soups. The great thing about the bulk bins is that you can buy a little bit of something, and experiment. That's how I discovered my love for millet, and farro.
For my bean shelf, I of course always have plain old brown/green lentils. I like to also keep red lentils, because they are great in soups and sauces. I like to have pinto, and black beans for burritos, and salads. And then to round out my bean shelf I try to always have white beans, and garbanzos.
I also have tons of spices in my cupboard, which helps a lot with keeping your taste buds from getting bored. Bulk spices are probably my favorite thing in the Co-op. Spices are expensive, especially organic. I have discovered spices and blends like Za'atar, and berebere, because I can afford to experiment. I can't recommend bulk spice bins enough, especially if you're on a budget.
With various odds and ends I tend to have on hand, like tahini, vegan mayo, raw cashews, And a few fresh veg, I can create a tasty meal.
I also buy my nutritional yeast at the bulk bins, as well as coconut flour, wheat gluten flour, and sea salt. So much cheaper! If you prefer organic flour, I would check the bulk bins for extra value. If you like dried fruits and seeds and nuts, I would go for the bulk. And if you are an oatmeal lover, go for the bulk! At the Co-op in my town, organic oatmeal in the bulk bins is way cheaper than the non organic oatmeal sold at Dollar General!
I spend between thirty and fifty dollars once a month at the bulk bins, depending on how flush I am. It's a great use for old pickle jars too! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!