Buying in Bulk: Real Savings (without food waste)

I’m sure by now that you know one of my major pet peeves is food waste. That’s why buying in bulk can be such a dangerous proposition. If you can’t use up all of something before it goes bad and you have to throw it away, that’s the same as throwing away money.

One of the ways we save money is by purchasing cheese in bulk. I buy the pre-shredded cheese. There are a few reasons.

  1. I love cheese. I will eat an entire pound block of cheese in a few days. However, I have never sat down and ate pre-shredded cheese straight from the bag.
  2. I don’t own a cheese grater. I don’t want to own a cheese grater. I don’t own a food processor. I don’t want one. I’m not a huge kitchen gadget fan.
  3. For me, it’s a trade off. I would rather pay a few more cents per ounce for the convenience of shredded cheese. My time is worth a few cents per ounce.

IMG_3214Once I’m home from the store, I set up my cheese packaging station. All you need is a stack of ziploc bags, a glass, a salad plate, and a measuring cup. (stack of bags not shown in this photo)

I measure my cheese out into 2 cup packages. That’s the size of most grocery store sized bags of shredded cheese.  I keep 1-2 bags of each kind of cheese in the fridge, and the rest of the bags go into the freezer. Yes, you can freeze cheese.

IMG_3215Put the bag into the cup and wrap the top of the bag (the part with the zip top) over the mouth of the cup. Using the measuring cup, measure however much cheese you plan to store per bag.

After my last trip to Smart & Final, I came home with a 4 lb bag of Mozzarella, and a 5 lb bag of cheddar.

I ended up up with 6 2 cup bags of Mozzarella, and a little left over, and 9 2 cup bags of Cheddar with a little leftover. I used the leftover cheeses to top a pizza. It was a little under 2 cups with both leftover cheeses combined.

IMG_3213Trying to figure out if this is a good deal? Let’s do some math…

The same brand of cheddar cheese in a 2 cup bag at Smart & Final is $2.59.

The 5 lb bag of cheddar cheese was $12.49, and it contained roughly 19 cups of cheese. That makes each cup of cheese .66, making each zip loc bag of cheese containing 2 cups of cheese $1.32. That’s a savings of $1.27 per bag over the pre-measured zip-top bag. When I’m not sure which is a better deal while I’m in the store, I check the price per ounce on the shelf label. Here are two examples of a shelf tag that shows the price per ounce for two separate products (Uncle Ben’s Rice and Carnation Instant Breakfast).

priceperounce

 

Different stores have different shelf tags, so it may take you a few minutes to decipher each stores tags.

Now you have to factor in the cost of the ziploc bags. We re-use our cheese bags, so after they are empty, I wipe them out, put them inside another bag (marked “for cheese”) and stash them in a drawer. I buy ziploc bags en masse when they are on sale. I don’t always re-use bags, but I try to as often as I can.

There you have it. Shopping smartly, taking advantage of a good deal, and how to store your food with little to no waste. That’s what being a savvy shopper is all about. 

 

It’s Yum Time- Easy Frittata!

Whomever coined the term “morning sickness” either had never been pregnant or couldn’t tell time. I’ve been really nauseous lately all the time, so I’ve been cooking a lot of dinners that I haven’t been eating. Most of my evening meals have comprised of cold cereal and a splash of whole milk.

However, I made an awesome, easy Frittata last night that smelled so good, I actually ate about a quarter of it.

I love making Frittatas. They are super easy to make, and you can use basically anything in your kitchen. Veggies, cheese, and protein of any type. Frittatas are gluten free, and can be made vegetarian (but not vegan, since they do have eggs as a major ingredient).

Here is the recipe that I cobbled together. I didn’t write anything down, I just rummaged through the fridge and pulled out stuff that looked good together. I chose the yellow potatoes because when they cook, they have a rich, creamy texture without adding tons of empty calories (Potatoes are high in potassium, which his mama needs to keep the charlie horses at bay).

Easy Frittata (serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Milk (use whatever kind you normally use- soy, cow’s milk, whatever)
  • 1/2 lb turkey sausage (or your fav. breakfast sausage)
  • 2 T. butter, divided
  • 8-10 small yellow potatoes, chopped into small pieces (you can leave the skin on)
  • 1 16oz bag of peppers and onions
  • 1T minced garlic
  • 1 ripe tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (If you are watching calories, opt for a low cal. cheese)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • Olde Westport’s Gold Coast Garlic Shake or your favorite garlic powder to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a large oven proof skillet, cook sausage per package directions. Once sausage is cooke, remove from the pan, chop into bite size pieces and set aside (You can also use pre-cooked sausage- just heat it up and cut into bite sized pieces).
  4. Deglaze the pan with a scant 1/4 c. water. scrape the yummy brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the potatoes and 1 T butter. Cook the potatoes on medium/low until the potatoes are “al dente”.
  6. Add the remaining butter, garlic, and the onions/peppers. Continue to cook on medium heat until the veggies are soft, about 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat, add the sausage back into the pan.
  8. Pour the reserved egg mixture over the veggies, and sprinkle with a touch of garlic powder (if desired).
  9. Top with the chopped tomatoes and cheese
  10. Place the entire oven proof skillet in the oven, bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the eggs are set.
  11. Serve right away with a small green salad or with fruit. I love frittata topped with fresh salsa and a little plain greek yogurt or sour cream.

And here are some shots before we demolished it. If you can’t eat it all in one meal, you can always stash the leftover in the fridge and eat it cold, or re-heat it in the microwave. It’s good for breakfast too!

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Notice all the yummy veggies!!

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