OT - Shopping in bulk

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from IPWBride. Show IPWBride's posts

    OT - Shopping in bulk

    This is WAY off topic for Parents, but I looked at the Food boards and they haven't been visited in a month.  So looking to my friends here.  I was at Costco this past weekend - love buying bulk for paper goods, laundry detergents, toiletries, condiments, meats and fish (which can easily freeze), and some bread items (also freezable).  And we also bought a shelf unit for the basement so I actually now have tidy storage for these items too!  I'm at a total loss on how to take advantage of their good prices on perishable bulk  fruits and veggies.  Ok, so maybe some fruits can freeze for smoothies and such.  But veggies?  Is it really possible to buy these items in bulk for a family of three?

    Example.  They had these gorgeous english cucumbers (no seeds!) in packages of 4.  These are the really long ones, so that's a really big bundle.  If we ate salads every single night for 2 weeks I'm not sure I'd use them all.  I was going to buy the bag of 8 bell peppers... but also stopped as I don't use them every day, and can't imagine they'd freeze?

    Any tips from those who do bulk shopping with success?  I'd really love to take advantage of their perishable items but not end up throwing half of them away (kinda defeats the point).

    Also, is it worth it, and do any of you have, a second freezer for this type of shopping?  They have some really great frozen items, but come in such large packages.  My bottom door freezer is way too small to take advantage of the 20-per-package egg sandwiches... which are 1/3 the price if I bought that many in 4-per-package installments.
     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    You can freeze vegetables if you are going to cook them.  I freeze cored whole tomatoes (skins fall off when they are soaked in hot water right before using), trimmed and blanched green beans, and chopped summer squash and zucchini every year from the garden and use them the rest of the year in sauces and soups. If this is your goal, I'd invest in a vacuum sealer, though, because nothing is good eats after it's freezer burned.

    Things that are only good raw must be eaten while they are fresh from the fridge so only buy what you can eat right away of those.
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from princess-cal. Show princess-cal's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    Hi IPW,
    We are avid BJs shoppers and we do find that we save a lot of money.  I like BJs better than Costco because they have name brand items and you can also use coupons.

    In regards to your questions, we do have an extra fridge/freezer where we store items.  We don't buy persihables, as there are only 2 of us so, like you said, we'd end up throwing most of it away.  We do stock up on bottled water and drinks, meats (we freeze them), frozen items, snacks, cereal, cleaning supplies, paper supplies, etc. 

    I really do think it is worth it.  HTH.
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    I agree with Kar on the vegetables.  Specifically to your bell pepper point, I would wash them and dice them up and freeze them like that.  Then they go into sauces, chili, or soup later on.  The peppers mostly have gone into chili in the past, but I plan to start putting them in pizza or pasta sauce.
    I have never frozen cucumbers, but I actually think they would be delicious in a smoothie!  I had an alcoholic drink with cucumber in it and it was amazing.  Not sure if they should be pureed before or after freezing.
    Also, you mentioned eating the cucumbers in salads.  If I get a good deal on something, we usually just have that.  So instead of having salad we'd all just eat cucumber sticks.  DD will sometimes eat things like that if she can dip them in hummus.  I like them just with salt and pepper.
    This could be over the top, but they're also easy to make refrigerator pickles.  I would usually do water, white vinegar, onion, garlic, peppercorns, and salt.  You can just cover them and put them in a jar in the fridge; you don't have to "can" them if you keep them in the fridge.

    (Now I'm hungry!  And, I need to point out that I did a lot more of this good prep work and cooking before I had the LO!)
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    Yup, it's the texture that goes soft because the cell walls break in the freezer, so even cukes would be good if you put them in a smoothie - good idea.  Definitely prepare the veggies before you freeze them as a huge time saver.  However, if you want the skins off the peppers when you cook them you might want to freeze them only after adulterating them just enough to remove the cores (one cut from top to bottom and "unrolled") so you can give them a dip in hot water and have the skin peel off easily in big pieces when you're ready to use them.  Of course, if you want the skins on in your finished dish, dice the peppers up before you freeze them.
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from IPWBride. Show IPWBride's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    Of course!!!  I buy frozen veggies from the supermarket (peas, green beans, carrots) so of course you can freeze them.  Why didn't I think of this??!!  And my husband laughes at my overuse and love of ziplocs... so another way to use them :-)  Makes sense about only doing this if I'm going to cook them, which would be 95% of the time as I'm not a huge raw veggie fan (gives me wicked gas!).  Kar, do you blanch them before you freeze, or freeze them raw?  I now love the idea of frozen bell peppers... I could make my own little stir fry mix!  Perfect.  Anyone know if you can freeze mushrooms?  I did buy a large bucket last weekend, am going to use some tonight and know I will have a lot leftover.

    Med.. nice idea about a cucumber smoothie.  Will try this!

    I think I will look into a separate freezer.  I don't want to go crazy, as knowing life, I will get it stocked full and the power will go out for days.  But I'd really like to take advantage of the bulk breakfast sandwiches, chicken nuggets and popsicles, etc!
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from SAW73. Show SAW73's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    I agree with Kar about the vacuum sealer.  I have had one for years now and use it to pack my meats in meal size quantities. The bags are a bit expensive, so I use the rolls. Once you figure out how big to cut the bags there is very little waste.

    I also have a second freezer. If you are going to investing one, I would recommend an upright model rather than a chest model, as you are less likely to lose stuff in the bottom. I freeze just about everything. I find its easier to make things like meatballs, meatloaf, lasagna and mac and cheese in bulk and freeze in dinner size portions. I would freeze berries and soft fruit like peaches and plum you might cook with later, but not things like apples and pears. And like Kar said, vegetable you would eat cooked.

    Good luck - SAW
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from Trouble30. Show Trouble30's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    IPW: I think a chest freezer is awesome!  We got one last year to store breastmilk/trader joe stuff.  We go to BJs but don't find we get a lot of stuff there because it's just too much of one thing.  Except milk.  The have great prices on milk.  But I digress...  You will probably fill up the chest freezer pretty fast and regarding the power outage, if it's only a short outage, your stuff will probably survive much better than in the regular freezer.  Something about the way it's configured.
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from SAW73. Show SAW73's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    I have frozen cooked mushrooms and added them to spaghetti sauce. But never raw mushrooms, I would image they would be awfully mushy.

     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    We freeze our berries and use them in pies or over shortcake.  Definitely not fruit platters, though, lol.

    I blanched the green beans and the squash.  However, I freeze the tomatoes whole and raw after trimming the cores and bad spots.  I freeze the berries after washing and trimming.
      
    I have to freeze things on a cookie sheet (on parchment paper!) before putting them in the FoodSaver bags to vacuum because despite it having a setting for wet food it doesn't work.  The water gets up to where the seal is to be made and it keeps it from sealing.  Grrr.

    We have a second freezer (stand up) in the basement.
     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    yup, I agree with Kar as usual.  :)  I like the skins on my peppers, so I just cut them up before freezing.  If you want skins off, parboil and de-skin first.
    Basically try to make it the way you're going to want them later.  Like with the tomatoes, I know I'm going to want them diced to go in sauce or soup, so my preference is to dice them first.
    I have never tried to freeze mushrooms, but I think it might be better to cook them first.  My theory (just a theory!) is that raw they have so much air in them that it will be a freezing disaster.  As Kar said, the texture of fruits/vegetables gets ruined because the cell walls break.  They break because of the ice crystals, and quicker freezing = smaller crystals and less damage.  So the faster you can freeze things, the better.  Air is an insulator, so it slows freezing.  So less air = better.
    Sincerely,
    former food geek
     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    Even easier than parboiling and peeling, you can freeze them as-is and then soak them in hot tap water right before use - the skins slide right off.  Well, at least that's the case with the tomatoes, and I'm assuming the same will be true for the peppers.  I avoid parboiling if I can because it's more time consuming than I thought it would be.

    med, it's so funny how often we agree. :)
     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from amy-lynn. Show amy-lynn's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    I would agree that a second freezer is worth it if you buy a lot in bulk. I have had both an upright and a chest freezer, I prefer the chest for efficiency, but for ease of use an upright is much better. I just don't have the headroom in my basement for an upright at this time. I would cook mushrooms before freezing. You can also roast red peppers before freezing, the skins are blackened and removed, so you don't have to blanch them. I love my vaccum sealer, it keeps meats better even than the ziploc freezer bags.
    Another thing that is great to freeze is homemade broth. I make a big pot of broth and freeze it in one, two or three cup increments (ziplocs are great for this) so when I have a recipe that calls for broth, I already have it handy.
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from MamaMama2. Show MamaMama2's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    If you have a slow cooker/crockpot, check this out. I haven't actually tried this, but came across it on Pinterest. Bunch of recipes that call for prepping veggies and then freezing them for ready-to-make meals. http://melissafallistestkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/09/freezer-cooking-slow-cooker-meals.html
     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: OT - Shopping in bulk

    Thanks, MamaMama!!  I do have a crock pot and a garden that's more like a commercial farm thanks to DH's green thumb and joy of gardening, lol.  He deals with all the "outside" work of the garden and I deal with all the "inside" work of prep, storage, and cooking so this is super helpful.  I've only had a garden (been with DH) 4 years so I'm still a novice, really.
     

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