We are a family of 6, it just doesn’t make sense for us not to shop in bulk. Sure, we pay $100 annually for a membership, but we save that in a trip or two.
One regular sized box of granola bars will give us one day, where a bulk box can give us two weeks (or more) for only a couple of extra dollars. A 2lb bag of apples might last us 3 or 4 days, but a 10 lb bag lasts a lot longer. Simple logic. However, I believe that even a family of two or three can save money by shopping in bulk if they know how. Know how? It seems simple, and it really is, but I know a lot of people who tell me they’ve “tried the Costco thing” and end up with a refrigerator full of spoiled food because they never use it in time.
The first thing I must stress is planning. If you have a well thought out meal plan, you will drastically cut back on what you’re throwing away.
The second thing, is prepping.
We did a Costco trip yesterday, and while smaller than most (we had just gone last week), we still left with quite a haul. Among those items were a 5lb bag of onions, 10 lbs of carrots, a 3-pack of cucumbers, and 10 lbs of apples. So today, I spent a couple of hours getting it all ready to use.
The first thing I did (after cleaning the kitchen, I have to have a clean kitchen!) had nothing to do with our shopping trip, but I thought it was worth a mention anyway. I love pancakes, my kids love pancakes, who doesn’t love pancakes? The thing is, quite often, my kids decide that they want pancakes at 6am. I don’t feel like cooking until 10, and they aren’t prepared to wait that long. So to save them from the drudgery that is cold cereal, I cook them ahead.
Then I throw them into a freezer bag (seriously, my best friend!), and when they want pancakes at 6am, I drag my haven’t-even-had-my-coffee-yet self to the freezer and pop them in the toaster. Throw some bananas on top and voila! And yes, those ones toward the bottom are a bit dark. That’s how my oldest likes her pancakes. Yuck.
Next, carrots. I call my son to the kitchen, he loves getting in on the carrot peeling action!
We set to work, peeling 5lb of carrots (I still have another 5lbs in my fridge to use fresh). Then Mommy chops, some into small pieces to freeze and some into wedges that go back into the fridge for carrot sticks. I use the frozen pieces when I make soup, stew, or casserole. Many people blanche them before freezing but I’ve never had any issues so I don’t bother. I’ve never tried using them as a side dish after freezing them though, as some people claim it changes the taste.
Tip: Freeze the bags flat, it’s so much easier to organize them this way!
Shameless mention, this is my favourite knife. Ever. It’s Paderno, and it even has a cover. How cool is that?
And while Rylan and I are hard at work, I have a little birdie sticking her hand into the dish of carrot sticks. It’s a good thing she’s cute!
Next up, onions! I love doing onions all at once, because while we love onions, I hate the tears! I do them the exact same way, chop and bag. It’s so easy to just grab a handful and throw them in!
Lastly, cucumbers. There is still one in my fridge that hasn’t been touched yet. Give it a couple of days and all 3 will be gone! I chopped one into slices for snacks, and cucumber sandwiches (yum!). The other I cut smaller for salads.
Tomorrow I’ll tackle the apples. I had planned to get that done today, but forgetful me forgot to get the lemon I needed juice from to make my apple sauce! This really was a light prepping day, normally I would have celery, lettuce, and who knows what else to get ready. But we already had those things, and they weren’t on sale!
Not only does this save money by allowing us to buy in bulk, it’s convenient! Convenience foods without all the junk that’s found in convenience food!