Wednesday, January 25, 2006

How a Bulk Food Order Becomes a Meal Plan

Yesterday was food pickup from our food cooperative. I wonder how odd my monthly grocery shopping would look to you? Here's a peek at this month's order:

50 pounds of whole wheat bread flour
20 pounds of soy flour
1 pound sesame seeds
10 pounds of nutritional yeast
66 pounds of whole wheat pasta (it was an incredible sale)
24 pounds of extra firm tofu
5 pounds baking powder
1 gallon castille soap
1 deodorant crystal

The challenge of living a simpler, more frugal life is to look at those ingredients and know what to do with them. Having a stocked pantry and freezer makes this easier. It also allows me to take advantage of monthly sales at our coop while limiting non-sale items.

How these giant bags of food fit into planning a menu for this weekend? Well, some of the tofu will become tofu bacon, its a house specialty. (It may be the only thing we make that everyone raves about.) To make the tofu bacon we also need the nutritional yeast.

Pasta is usually a pretty "safe" food to serve to non-veg guests. We'll be serving ours with home canned tomato basil sauce and TVP. My homemade sauce is runnier than storebought so the TVP does a nice job thickening and making the meal more substantial. This will be Saturday night's dinner.

Some of the bread flour and soy flour will be used to make the potato rolls, to enjoy with the pasta, and bread dough for next week. I'll make the bread dough today or Thursday and have it in the freezer. When we get home Sunday we can just defrost, bake and we'll have bread for the week without all the work.

The baking powder will be used in pancakes and quickbreads for breakfasts. It might also be used in baked desserts. You start to get the idea.

I'm still on the fence about lunches. I need to plan one for Saturday and one for Sunday. I'm leaning toward something that can be cooked in the slow cooker.


AnnMarie said...

How do you store all the flour? I'm looking into joining a buying club (thanks to a link you made to the main club page I've found one at my place of work!)...but I can't figure out how I'll store 50 pounds of flour! i've been storing the 5# bags in the freezer--I like to put them inthere for bug killing, and I have the room. But I don't think I'd be able to put an entire 50# bag in (I'd never be able to lift it back out, either).

Will you share your bacon tofu recipe?

sadie said...

Hi Katie! I love your list!! Oh the possibilities!! I keep my flour in the fridge too. We had a little bug issue,so now I am extra careful. I am just putting Red Lentil Loaf in the oven. I am loving it already. Does it freeze well? I would love the tofu bacon recipe as well. I am also making spelt bread, a yeast free version. Do you use spelt at all? I love taste and texture but it is a little pricey. I am thinking about tweaking the recipe and combining the spelt with whole wheat and soy flour. It is really quick to mix up. If you would like the recipe let me know.

Katie said...


Don't try to put a 50 pound bag of flour in the freezer, you'll break your spine. Early in my food coop days I put a 50 pound bag of flour into our chest freezer and it was an unbelievable nightmare to get out.

I put the word out among friends and family that I'll take food grade containers that they don't want. My mom is a huge consumer of those big containers of pretzels that warehouse clubs sell. Everytime she finishes one, it makes its way over to my house. Also in my area, there is a gourmet farm store that gets a lot of deli products in big containers. They put these out for anyone to take, and we do. I have a formidable collection of large containers. That having been said, I can't fit them in the freezer this time of year. My solution is to put them in the coldest parts of the house, usually our unheated garage. This has worked well for us. I've also rotated containers through the freezer, letting each stay for about two days, to keep the bugs at bay.

I have to mention, especially when it somes to flour, we'll easily use 50 pounds in two months. One of the biggest challenges when you first begin using a food coop is figuring out how much you will use in what length of time.


We had bugs once too, in a 25 pound bag of rice that I never had the chance to take out of the bag. It was gross and now I'm religious about getting the stuff into airtight containers.

I've never tried spelt, I'd love to see your recipe.

I honestly don't know if the Red Lentil Loaf freezes well. I haven't tried yet. If you do freeze it, let me know how it goes.

Amy said...

so, I checked out your co-op and unfortunately live WAAAY outside the service area.(Central Arkansas)
Have you any resources or contacts that could help?
I would also like the bacon tofu recipe as well. Bacon is one of the things my DH misses most.

Katie said...

Hi Amy,

Check out its a food coop that services your area. I don't have any personal experience with them but they are listed in Co-op America's National Green Pages.

The bacon recipe was posted on Thursday January 26, 2006. You can just pull it up in the archives.