There are some great sites out there lauding once a month cooking which usually involves large casseroles, piles of waffles and pancakes and a quantity of food that is staggering to me.
And yet I have a Costco membership I use frequently, buy in bulk packages at the co-op and often have enough food in my freezers and pantry to eat for a month or more without shopping. It’s a fine balance between getting the best price for food (usually in bulk) and not throwing money out by dumping spoiled food in the trash.
Here are some of my tricks.
I make granola in huge portions and keep it fresh in a glass jar to top yogurt or to mix in with cereal. Rolled oats, raw sunflower seeds, raisins and cinnamon.
Costco sells a 5 pound bag of organic carrots for just a few dollars. I divide the bag up into 12 small bags of carrots for snacks
Great for eating raw or dipped in hummus. Other vegetables good with hummus include peppers, cucumbers and broccoli.
My co-op sells peppers in bulk bags of 2-3 pounds for under $2/pound. These red peppers were under $1 a pound in the half price bin. I like peppers fresh in a variety of dishes but they are a bit of a pain to wash, prep, slice and keep these from going bad. So when I buy in bulk I take the time to pre-slice and chop to freeze in smaller portions. Some are sliced for fajitas and burritos,
and smaller pieces are great for stuffed zucchini boats and scrambled eggs. Since my freezers are full it’s tough to make room for flash freezing peppers. Ice cube trays are great for this,
Typically I buy just one or two bags of dry sides (rice, pasta and lentils) at a time. I use glass jars from Ikea to store these sides and it’s simple enough to pour a half cup or more.
A bulk bag of broccoli is incredibly cheap at the co-op – less than one bag of steam fresh from the grocery store.
This was about a fourth of the broccoli I bought and couldn’t eat before it goes bad. So after steaming I let the broccoli cool and bagged it in smaller portions.
The chicken cutlets I picked up this summer ( 8 – 2.5 lb bags) is still in the freezer. It’s super easy to pull out one or two pieces, defrost and and add to the George Foreman grill. In the coming month I may buy a bulk container of ground beef at Costco to brown and divide into smaller pieces.
Summer is gone. Sigh.
But during those fruit filled months I stocked up on a variety of fruits including cherries, bananas, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, pineapples and blueberries. Flash frozen and then in small containers, it’s easy to use these in small portions for smoothies year round.
Remember these fruity summer drinks? One of the most complicated parts is adding a cup of lemon juice (fresh is best). So I take the lemons I get in bulk from my Grandma’s tree or direct from the farm and freeze them in ice cube trays.
Just a few tricks I use to save money on a few items I use over and over all year long. I stagger these purchases to keep my grocery budget from getting out of control but in the long run it’s a simple way to make the most of low prices despite the fact I never make casseroles or pounds of pancakes.