Shopping in bulk is a huge benefit for your monthly budget, but requires some new skills in the kitchen.

Shopping in bulk is a huge benefit for your monthly budget, but requires some new skills in the kitchen.

If you go to any bulk inventory store, like Costco or Sam’s Club, you will notice that generally speaking, you cannot buy any product in a quantity smaller than in packs of 4 or more. While you get more food in one go, that also means you will experience an increase in initial ticket price. That may be shocking up-front, however, shopping in bulk can lead to big benefits down the road. Let’s talk about ways to maximize shopping in bulk so your family can reap the benefits of a well-stocked pantry. 

Cycle Shopping

Cycle Shopping is a method of shopping that, with a little extra planning, will help build-up the supply of your dry goods. Using your monthly budget, cycle shopping suggests buying different items each month instead of having a single recurring monthly shopping list. 

For example, in October you can buy a bulk case of pasta and a case of pasta sauce (that will both last you more than a month), then in November you can purchase a case of ready-made soups and dried fruits. Then in December, you may need some more pasta to finish up all that sauce you got in October, and instead of buying more sauce, you could bulk up on some beans and rice.

It may take a little bit longer to diversify your cabinets, but after a few months of cycle shopping, you should have a nice selection of non-perishable food at your disposal in your pantry. Once your cabinets are stocked, what do you do with all that food?

Batch Cooking

Batch Cooking is exactly what it sounds like — cooking in batches. (Some people also refer to this as meal prep.) Basically, you take some ingredients you have a lot of and cook one large meal. (Sundays tend to be a popular time for this activity.) Once you have cooked your large meal, you can eat a serving immediately or you can go ahead and package your meal into smaller servings in glass or plastic containers. Put some to keep in the fridge for tomorrow or the next day, and some to keep in your freezer for next week when you want to switch things up. 

You can do this for one type of meal or multiple meals depending on how much time you want to devote to your day of cooking. For example, you may want to make a large chicken stir fry with rice and vegetables AND a couple of salads to pair with it. You could also make some yummy breakfasts to eat on the go, like overnight oats or fruit cups. The more you make, the more you have to choose from as the week goes on, instead of being stuck with eating one dish all week (because that is no fun).

Batch Cooking does take some time to plan out what exactly you want to be eating that week, but it minimizes the chance of food going bad. It also frees up some time during the week where you do not have to be in the kitchen cooking dinner; you can just reheat what you have already made! This works especially well for weekday lunches, easy to pack and take to school or work. Just make sure you have enough meal containers!

Check out this recipe for Asian Lettuce Cups to get you started on meal prepping.

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