I like to buy a lot of food at once. Something about looking at huge quantities of comestibles just makes me happy. It may stem from my childhood when I would happily eat four plates of food, but today that particular sort of excess only brings discomfort.
Now I content myself with buying large quantities of food and eating it over several days. This is excellent for my wallet as I can leverage bulk discounts, but it is still a strategy works better for some foods than for others. The main challenges are finding a space to store the food, knowing how long the food will stay safe (and pleasant) to eat, and keeping an oft-repeated food item interesting each meal.
I may have mentioned a while back that I own a tin. This tin holds eight pounds of peanuts. I have a local peanut vendor who knows me as “The Tin Man” and gives me eight pounds of the best skin-on peanuts you have ever tasted at a roughly 20% discount each time I bring the tin around. What’s more, as a bulk customer, I can make custom orders. Originally I could not ask for the peanuts unsalted, but as The Tin Man, I call ahead of time and the vendor makes sure he has my unsalted peanuts ready.
I also have a strategy for bulk purchase of tomatoes at the farmer’s market. I order quinoa by the twenty-five pound bag as well. I have twenty-four tubes of toothpaste underneath my sink. I get a thrill whenever I can purchase 65 ears of corn at the farmer’s market for $20. They sell it in a special plastic net kind of bag that digs into your hands as you try to lug your haul back to the car. It just serves as a reminder of what a delightfully huge amount of food I’ve bought.
By far the most entertaining of my bulk buys (based on the reactions I get when I describe them) is the ten pound block of cheese I like to keep in my fridge. Usually I buy Tillamook cheddar, a lovely sharp brand; my only complaint about it is that they insist on dying it orange so it looks like supermarket cheddar, which is also dyed orange for historical, fraudulent reasons. This time I wanted to try something different. I tried three different cheddar varieties at Whole Foods and ended up choosing the cheapest, “Cheddar White Vintage 2 Year Black Creek.” Not as catchy as “Tillamook Cheddar,” but it tastes just as good and has no orange dye.
Unlike Tillamook, which comes nicely wrapped in ten-pound blocks, Black Creek evidently knows who its dealing with. The Whole Foods cheese counter salesman came out from the back with a slab forty pounds in size.
Before my fellow bulk purchasers start to look askance, let me say this in my defense. The deciding factor in my bulk cheese purchasing has always been my refrigerator size. Sixty-five ears of corn is a lot of volume, but it’s fungible. You can fit the corn anywhere you need in the fridge. A block of cheese can be cut up, but then it loses its allure as a huge block. A lot of small blocks of cheese is just not the same thing. This is why, for instance, I do not own an eighty-pound wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano. Although a magnificent cheese like this can survive outside the fridge with proper care, it still deserves better than my humble apartment can offer.
The attendants cut off roughly a quarter of the block and gave me 11.1 pounds of cheese. I got a ten percent discount which worked out nicely since it left me paying for roughly 10 pounds of cheese. I have never kept track of precisely how long it takes me to get through ten pounds of cheese, but I’ll let this blog entry note the purchase date and we shall see!