The other day I went grocery shopping at Sam’s Club. As I was checking out, the young college-age checker commented that I must be going to have a big party. I laughed and asked him why he thought that (being that I am such a party girl –NOT). He commented that I had a whole ham and turkey breast that had been sliced, I had several bags of mixed vegetables and a couple of the 5lb.blocks of cheese. Apparently he thought that that was party food; I just thought that it was lunch – for a long time.
Everybody who knows me, knows that I like to shop big because I don’t like to shop often, but shopping big can also cause a lot of waste if you are buying fresh or perishable items. After I explained what I was doing and how I went about doing it, the young clerk got really excited. He said that he was going to do the same thing and that maybe he wouldn’t keep running out of food before running out of money.
I am going to share with you how I keep waste to a minimum and make sure that you always have fresh food on hand to eat.
First the meat. I like to buy the whole ham, not the processed ham, but the good tasting ham without the bone, and a really large, cooked and flavored, turkey breast. I then have the meat department, or the deli-department, slice it up deli-sandwich thin. I do this for two reasons: 1) I like the flavor better than the pre-package, pre-cut meats, and 2) it’s a whole lot cheaper, and I don’t know this for a fact, but I suspect that it is healthier.
Now that you have all this deli-meat you are probably wondering how you are going to eat it all before it goes bad. You don’t have to. Just freeze it. But don’t just take chunks of meat out and slip it into a freezer bag. No, take the time to do a little prep work and you will be happy with the outcome. I have some wax paper that comes already pre-cut to deli-sandwich size. I cut that in half and then I weigh out three-ounces of meat on the wax paper and roll it into a small cylinder shaped log. After I have rolled all of my deli-meat in this manner, I put a small tub of each meat, the ham and the turkey, in the fridge and then the rest of it I put into the freezer until I need it later.
I have found this to be the most cost effective, least wasteful, and the easiest way to use the meat. I have found that three-ounces of deli-meat is the perfect amount of meat for a sandwich – at least for our family. You will need to do your own testing to find out how much your family needs to make the perfect sandwich.
I have also found that if I want to make a salad, I can just grab one of my meat “logs” and dice it up, and again, it is the perfect amount. It also makes it easy to pull out and slice and dice if I want to make scrambled eggs with ham in it. In the morning if I am running a little late, all I have to do is grab a roll of meat, a tortilla or roll, a cheese stick, and throw them in a bag and I can assemble an impromptu sandwich at my desk for breakfast. Prepping the meat this way makes it really easy to grab and go.
Another thing that I found is that not only is it cheaper to buy my high quality deli-meat this way, but by pre-measuring the amount of meat that is acceptable to use, I don’t have children making half-pound sandwiches anymore – which makes it a lot cheaper to have around. I also do this when I buy my pepperoni in the 5-pound bags. With the pepperoni, I measure out one-ounce servings, which is the perfect amount for a single-size pizza. Again, see how much your family likes and adjust the amount. You don’t have to use wax paper; you can use a plastic wrap or even the food sealers that take all of the air out. I place all of them in a large freezer bag and then as my fridge reserves start to dwindle, I take a handful out and replenish my supply.
Next week I’ll tell you about what I do with the cheese and the fresh vegetables. Until then – GET YOUR WATER STORED!… and your toilet paper.