As ya know, we did our shopping the other day. One of the duties of such an excursion, is what I call “re-packaging day.” I usually schedule it for a couple of days after the event.
Re-packaging refers to opening all these jumbo bags of this and that, putting them in containers that can reasonably be used, and dumping the rest in the freezer, or in somehow cleaning/drying or otherwise manipulating things to last longer.
I’ve given you some of my tips for keeping green onions, sweet peppers, mushrooms, parsley and cilantro and so forth before.
Part of the reason why this kinda thing is needed, is that supermarkets, as the years go by, are intent on forcing me to buy in quantities that are convenient and economical for them. Yes, I do not come first in this exchange, their profits and efficiency come first.
Most of you may not remember, but I sure do, when a person was faced with a large display shelf of strawberries. You grabbed a box and carefully picked out the ripest most beautiful berries. Indeed, one could judge the relative quality of a the homemaker by the care she took in choosing her fruits and vegetables.
No more of that of course. Today all strawberries are packaged in amounts that may or may not relate to your needs. And you buy knowing that there will be one or two or perhaps more in the middle that must be thrown away. It’s just the way things are.
True we have always had to buy carrots, and radishes and green onions in “bunches”. Why we have had to, I have no clue, because they don’t grow that way. I may need six carrots for a roast, but I have to buy twelve, because that’s the “accepted” number for a bag.
Wal-Mart began to lose me, when it decided to force me to buy two bunches of green onions sealed in a bag instead of one. How convenient for them. Certainly not me.
For reasons of their own, I must by several stalks of broccoli all gathered in a super rubber band. We can’t usually eat that much. I routinely just take one or more of the extras out and lay it back in the broccoli bin. So far nobody has “nabbed” me for altering of produce.
You probably still recall that grapes came in branches. You picked up the one that was the best size for you. Now they shove a set “weight” into a zipbag and offer it to me. I open those and take out what I don’t want too.
Increasingly they try to sell me parsnips and turnips in packages of six or more. But I don’t want six, I want three. They like to put Brussel sprouts and green beans in zip bags. They put in enough to feed a family of twelve. I am a family of two. It ticks me off.
I recognize the savings for things like toilet paper and such. Big packs are economical. But a roll of toilet paper doesn’t rot and get slimy in my fridge either.
We could of course go on into the insanity of why we get six or eight hot dog buns, but ten hotdogs. We could wonder at that. We might wonder why we get eight hamburger buns, but we only get about three hamburgers per pound of meat unless you are making mini burgers.
So, I am forced, by being somewhat frugal and being conscientious about waste, to spend better than an hour repackaging. Today I cleaned green onions and put them in my container as I’ve previously described to last out the next two weeks. Then I cleaned a thing of celery, cutting off the bottom and the green leaves, washing and cutting the stalks in half and wrapping them in paper towelling to absorb the moisture and placing them in a plastic bag. I actually use my celery now instead of throwing better than half away.
Then I moved to the pepperoni. I make pizza, so I buy pepperoni. They only sell pepperoni in packages of enough to make about five pizzas. Know anyone who makes five pizzas at a time? So I open the package, count out twenty (which is the amount for my pizza), wrap them in Saran, and then into another bag for the freezer.
Then I went on to the chicken. We use chicken breasts and thighs. Occasionally I buy tenders in a large bag and use them for various things. Occasionally I buy wings for hot wings. Now breasts I can buy at the butcher as breasts–bone-in. I sometimes have them split and sometimes not. I buy them on sale. But the butcher only sells quarters beyond that. That’s the thigh and the leg. I don’t want the leg, so I’m forced to buy my thighs at the supermarket offered by some big operation called Perdue.
They insist that I need eight, when I only need four. So I repackage in bags of four and them put them in another bag to keep them protected.
Then I get to breads. I take whole loaves of “bakery” breads and cut in three parts and re-wrap and freeze. I take my hamburger and hotdog buns and simply put on additional bags and freeze. I can open and break off the two that I usually need for a meal. I do the same for dinner rolls, whether I make them or buy them from the store.
So do you repackage? And do you have any tips? I’m always looking to fine-tune my operation. Buy less, save more. That’s my mantra.
**Tomorrow I will tell you what made my head explode last night. I’m still picking up the pieces.
**What’s on the stove? corned beef and cabbage casserole, dinner rolls.
I do the same – being single makes it essential. I often cook for two/three days at once – don’t mind eating hte same thing.
A trick I recently learned. I’m always sticking things in the freezer “for soup”. Everything from chicken fat to chicken backs and bits of veggies (carrot tops etc). I now keep a hard plastic container in the freezer and once I wrap one of my little ‘ingredients” I put the wrapped bit of food into the container with the res. Then I don’t run into those litlte surprise packages. And if any of it turns out not to be so appealing once open or thawed, it just gets tossed.
Moe, that is a great idea for soup. Have to remember that one. I like to make soup and I realized that the darn celery leaves which I pitch should be freezered for later when I want to make some soup…Thanks for the tip.
Good for you! I used to buy in quantity when I had four kids at home, but now we only have the two of us. (like you). They are building a WalMart to replace an ancient defunct shopping center.
The store could make it easier if they would let me get what I want! lol…But when I can divide in the store, I do, trouble is I can’t open packages that sell as such…But at least we have less throw away now.
Middle Seaman said:
I also used to be many and am two now; furthermore, we eat two types of food with little overlap. Meat and fish come in decent units, either a pound of ground beef, for her, or a whole fish or its fillet for me. Veggies I buy at the farmers market (even in winter). In summer, I get tons of fresh veggies; in winter the supply is very limited. We already have strawberries and asparagus. They are package in small container and taste heaven.
I don’t buy bulk unless it is pasta, flour or nut. Then I buy by weight as much as I need.
I buy my spices from bulk containers so I can get what I want…that is nice, and I found a great way to preserve fresh parsley and other fresh herbs which really saves.
I’m looking forward to gardening some in NM and also going to the farmer’s market more like year round…
We don’t quite go to such lengths as yourself, Sherry – although I greatly admire you for doing so! I think our (UK) supermarkets are perhaps not quite so bad as yours at “convenient” packaging of fruit, veg, etc… but they certainly seem to be going that way! While at the same time making such grand declarations of environmentalism as charging us for their plastics bags etc. Hypocrites! Anyway…
I admit we used to waste quite a bit of food, but have, in recent years, made great efforts to not do so. Saving stuff “for soup” is indeed the saviour! I say “soup” – it often turns out to be some thick, chunky broth or stew, but we like it so that’s what counts, is it not? Our “soups” often contain such leftover ingredients as baked beans, chicken, rice, pasta, various types of veg, etc… yum! 🙂
Ahhhh, stews of indiscriminate heritage are the best!