The advantages of buying in bulk
June 22, 2015
For years, I never knew vegetables came in anything but the 10-gallon buckets we filled up with them in the garden. Same for fruit out of the orchard. And beef and pork? Those came in pickup truck loads, back from the slaughterhouse, wrapped tightly in white butcher paper with the contents stencilled on the outside.
But when I got out on my own and commenced my own grocery shopping, I bought in manageable quantities, meal-sized batches of veggies and meat, maybe stocking up occasionally when something was on sale.
And now, kids grown and mostly gone, I’m back to buying in bulk again. Go figger.
I’ve mentioned my annual quarter-cow purchase. I’ll be signing up shortly for my third one in a row; it’s just about the perfect amount of beef for a year for me. I usually have some leftover ground beef, but that goes to Child C and family, whose cooking skills are limited but do extend to Hamburger Helper. It averages out to a little more than five bucks a pound, which is high for hamburger, but cheap for ribeyes, T-bones and porterhouses. (God. Those porterhouse steaks last Friday were To Die For.)
Then there’s my growing affinity for canning and freezing veggies. I’ll be starting in to can tomatoes next month. This time, I think I’ll go with just plain tomatoes, rather than trying to do different sauces and such. And I’m good on tomato relish, so I can skip that this year. Yeah, just some good old canned tomatoes which can serve for soup or spaghetti sauce or chili or red beans and rice or whatever else seems like a good thing at the time.
Last year I canned about three bushels. Not nearly enough plain tomatoes, and pretty low on the tomato sauce, too. So there will be at least that many tomatoes going just into tomato canning. Maybe more.
Last year, I did a half bushel of green beans, canned, and a half-bushel of purple hulled peas, frozen. Seemed to be about the right amount of each, so we’ll do that again.
I did about 50 ears of corn, cut off and frozen. This year, I’ve found Silver Queen corn close to home, and I’m ordering 10 dozen ears to cut off and freeze. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em want to come help me work up corn?
I also try to take advantage of specials, when I find ’em, on pork, the only meat I will still buy at the grocery store (well, other than deli meat, on the rare occasion I buy that, and Wright’s bacon). I dashed in to Kroger t’other day to pick up pork tenderloin and wound up snagging a six-pound pork butt, which is presently residing in the freezer against the day I want to do barbecued pork. Because? It was $1.99 a pound, and you don’t hardly beat that price. If they’d been a little smaller, I might have bought two.
This was immediately after I’d made a pilgrimage to the nearby butcher shop/meat market and bought an entire pork loin, which is about 14 pounds and nearly three feet long. It would serve as a murder weapon, a la Agatha Christie (yes, I know that was a leg of lamb, but work with me, here). It was also residing in my freezer, as it was frozen when I got it. Saturday, I took it out of the freezer, thawed it, rubbed half of it down with seasoning and stashed it in a vacuum bag preparatory to sous viding it before the Fourth of July. I cut the other half up into inch-thick boneless pork loin chops, and vacuum sealed them, too, with no seasoning at all. Eight of them are back in the freezer and two are going to be dinner today.
So. I paid about 12 bucks for the pork butt, which will produce enough barbecue for eight or 10 people, give or take. I paid 31 bucks for the pork loin, which will feed about 8 on the roast half and another 10 on the chops half. For well under 50 bucks, I have purchased the entrees for roughly 25 people.
Pretty hard to beat that.
You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em keep an eye out for bargains like that. Let a sista know if you run across some.