Last week we covered your kitchen evaluation. That was a lot of work…Today we get to the real fun stuff (we know…we need to find more hobbies). But isn’t bulk food storage great fun? We think so! Before we set out on our discussion of how to properly buy and store bulk food, we’ll remind you of last week’s homework. In order to prevent buying bulk foods that will go to waste, or forgetting foods that you should buy in bulk for best savings, we had asked you to take some time to think about your favorite meals.
“Are you a cereal and fruit for breakfast kind-of person, or do you prefer oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar? Maybe you like smoothies, or yogurt with granola and berries mixed in. Do you cook with fresh veggies and always have fruit around for snacking? Or do you prefer to throw some canned tomatoes and thawed chicken breasts, along with some seasoning, into a crock pot and come home to dinner ready to be served? Think about how and what you like to eat so that come next Monday, you will know what makes sense for you to buy and store in bulk.”
Here are the basics we like to keep our kitchen stocked with: organic vegetable broth, kosher salt, pepper mill, various spices, unsalted and regular organic butter, Fair Trade organic coffee, block of Parmesan cheese (grate when needed, it lasts surprisingly long when you buy it in block form), raw nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, pinenuts), unrefined organic sugar, organic orzo, organic brown rice, organic whole wheat flour, vinegars (balsamic, red wine, white wine and apple cider), a really good organic extra-virgin olive oil and another less expensive olive oil for cooking, organic whole wheat pasta, granola, oats, and garlic. These staples will last quite a bit of time and when you add other fresh ingredients to them, you can easily make healthy meals in a snap.
Purchasing and storing your bulk items (or…getting the most bang for your buck):
Olive oils and vinegars should be bought in the largest quantities possible for maximum savings, but there’s no need to buy more than one bottle of each type needed. Oils are fragile so you need to be cognizant of storage in order to preserve their healthful properties. Keep oils out of heat, air, and light, if possible. Experts recommend storing oil at 57 degrees Fahrenheit (cellar/basement) but up to 70 degrees would be fine. If your preferred location is greater than 70 degrees, it’s recommended that you store oils in the refrigerator. Vinegar, like alcohol, can go bad. It is best stored in a cool dark place or in a refrigerator.
Broths, unopened, can last up to a year. Check the container before purchasing, and purchase for optimum savings only up to the amount you 1) have room to store, and 2) will use in that period of time that the broth is good.
Salts and peppers usually don’t need to be purchased in large quantities because they last for long periods of time. Besides, good salts and peppers don’t usually come in large quantities.
Many of the staples we use can be purchased in bulk from food co-ops or in the bulk aisles of stores such as Whole Foods. Buying in bulk saves money as well as packaging. (psst…we LOVE the reusable bulk storage food bags at kootsac). We keep our bulk items such as pastas, flour, sugar, nuts, orzo, granola, and more in glass sealable containers for added freshness and to keep bugs from trying to invade the cupboards. Glass sealable containers are easily acquired from second hand stores, garage sales, and some foods even come in them so you can reuse. Having a bevvy of different types on display in your cupboards looks super cool. We would not lead you astray on the super cool factor.
Tune in next Monday for the final chapter in our 3-part series on storing food in an eco and budget-friendly manner.