Cook Fast, Live Young: Bulk Food Buying Tips
Buying in bulk from warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club can save you lots of money. For example, one brand of maple syrup is going for $5.32 per quart at the local supermarket and only $1.49 per quart at a warehouse store. The problem, of course, is to make use of it all before it spoils, but by implementing a few techniques, you can make bulk buying work for you! Check expiration dates. Often, the items in the front are the oldest. To get the new stuff, check the back of the shelf.
Don’t buy more than you can easily store. Sure, that 25-pound bag of sugar is cheap, but where are you going to put it? Before you head to the store, do an assessment of how much space you can spare in your pantry.
Store dry goods in airtight containers. Then keep them in cool, dry areas. If you’re removing the labels, be sure to add your own so you don’t need to open them to find out what’s inside.
Freeze your purchases. Many items, such as meat, soups, casseroles, chili, pies, lasagna, and meatballs, still taste yummy when you defrost them. But be aware that eggs in their shells and food in cans are unsafe for the freezer. And some foods, like mayo, lettuce, and cream sauce, may be safe… but you won’t want to eat them!
Learn the best way to freeze food. To maintain freshness, use freezer bags and moisture-resistant storage containers. Unless you are freezing a liquid that may expand, fill in any empty space with crinkled wax paper, and squeeze excess air out of plastic bags. The FDA also offers guidelines for the best and safest ways to freeze food.
Divide it up! If you bought a huge bag of chicken breasts but you’re only planning on using a few this week, you’ll want to freeze the rest. Instead of throwing them all in a bag together, throw just enough servings for your family in each container. When it’s time to defrost, you’ll only be dealing with the quantity you’ll be eating.
Consider an extra freezer. To fully take advantage of buying in bulk, you’ll need to freeze a lot of what you buy.
Split with a friend. This is probably the best way to take advantage of bulk purchases. You can save cash on that gigantic bag of M&Ms without risking the dental health of your entire family.
Juliana Weiss-Roessler has ten years of professional writing and editing experience. For four years, she managed the web content for the star of an Emmy-nominated reality series. Currently, she is an editor for the geek girl e-zine PinkRaygun.com, a contributor to the career blog at Resumark.com, and owner of the food blog CookFastLiveYoung.blogspot.com. Follow her @cookfast on Twitter and learn more about her work at WeissRoessler.com.