Best Ways to Use Your Bulk Buys

Bag of groceries on the counter
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Buying in bulk can save you money, but if you don’t use up what you purchase, it’s so not worth it! I’m Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien and I’m here with fun ways to use five popular bulk food.

Oats

If oats are only used to make your morning oatmeal, then it’s time to expand your oats horizon. Pick up a large container of either steel-cut or old-fashioned oats (or both!). Unlike the instant kind, these two are packed with good-for-you nutrients and fiber.

Yes, oats are great for breakfast, especially overnight oats for busy folks. But have you thought about using them for dinner? You’re going to be obsessed with this recipe.

Shrimp & Cheesy Oats Bowl
Entire recipe: 334 calories, 10.5g total fat (4g sat fat), 687mg sodium, 30.5g carbs, 5g fiber, 1g sugars, 28g protein

1. In a medium-small pot, bring 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil.

2. Add 1/4 cup steel-cut oats and a dash of salt, and return to boil.

3. Reduce to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until thickened.

4. Meanwhile, cook 1 slice of center-cut bacon (or turkey bacon) until crispy, either in a skillet over medium heat or on a microwave-safe plate in the microwave. (See package for cook time.)

5. Add 2 tablespoons shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, 1 teaspoon light whipped butter (or light buttery spread), and 1 tablespoon chopped scallions to the pot. Cook and stir until hot and melted, about 1 minute.

6. Transfer oatmeal to a medium bowl.

7. Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat. Add 3 ounces (about 6) raw large shrimp (peeled, tails removed, deveined), 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon onion powder and a dash of black pepper. Cook and stir for about 4 minutes, until cooked through.

8. Add shrimp to the medium bowl. Chop or crumble bacon, and sprinkle over shrimp. Top with 1 tablespoon scallions.

You can also make a savory oat bake if you're looking for something different.

Meat

You can find fantastic deals on beef, chicken, and other meats when you buy big portions. But what if you don’t have an entire football team coming over for a steak dinner? Have no fear. Meat freezes well, and it can easily be defrosted for many dinners to come.

A great way to use up a ton of protein at once (an essential macronutrient) is to cook it in a slow cooker. Make a recipe like this one over the weekend, and you’ll have dinner and even breakfast (it’s great tossed in omelettes) for days!

‘Cue the Pulled Pork
1/6th of recipe (about 2/3 cup): 220 calories, 6g total fat (1.5g sat fat), 637mg sodium, 16g carbs, 1g fiber, 12g sugars, 24g protein

1. In a slow cooker, mix 1 cup canned tomato sauce, 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cider vinegar, 2 tbsp. plus 2 teaspoons brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons garlic powder. Season 12 ounces raw lean boneless pork tenderloin (trimmed of excess fat) and 12 ounces raw boneless pork shoulder (the leanest piece you can find, trimmed of excess fat) with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and add to the pot.

Top with 2 cups roughly chopped onion and lightly stir.

2. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours, until pork is cooked through.

3. Transfer pork to a large bowl. Shred with two forks—one to hold the meat in place and one to scrape across and shred it. Return shredded pork to the slow cooker and mix well.

Condiments

Sauces, salad dressings, and other shelf-stable condiments are things you'll need time and time again (like in that pork recipe I just shared!), and they also have a long shelf life. Buy in bulk, and you’ll save serious money.

If you are someone who eats salads often, look at condiments as an alternative to your usual salad dressing.

I’ve been known to toss ketchup, mustard, and BBQ sauce (not all at once) on top of my salads. And of course, these three are musts for grilling season (and yes, you can cut calories at a barbecue!)

Another perk of having these condiments handy is that they can be used in recipes to help meat stay tender. I present this recipe as Exhibit A.

Turkey & Veggie Meatloaf Minis
1/9th of recipe (1 mini meatloaf): 142 calories, 5.25g total fat (1.5g sat fat), 494mg sodium, 9g carbs, 1.5g fiber, 4g sugars, 14g protein

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 cups of a 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups, or spray them with nonstick spray.

2. Grate 1 small onion into a large bowl. Add the following ingredients to the bowl: 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 1/4 pounds raw lean ground turkey, 3 cups bagged broccoli cole slaw (roughly chopped), 1/2 fat-free liquid egg substitute, 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Thoroughly mix.

3. Evenly distribute turkey-veggie mixture among the muffin cups and top with ketchup, 1 teaspoon each.

4. Bake until firm with lightly browned edges, 30 to 35 minutes.

Protein Powder

Protein powder isn't cheap, but it's an amazingly versatile ingredient that can be used for way more than smoothies. Once you know your preferred brand and flavors, you can confidently buy a jumbo-sized tub. Just check the expiration date and make sure it's good for a while from the date you purchase it.

I use the powder all the time to up the protein when I bake muffins and cakes! Combine protein powder with half a banana, 2 tablespoons almond milk, and an egg white for a healthy morning pancake. And I even use it in these incredibly low-calorie ice pops.

Clean & Hungry Shamrock Shake Pops
1/6th of recipe (1 pop): 22 calories, 0.5g total fat (0g sat fat), 34mg sodium, 1g carbs, <0.5g fiber, <0.5g sugars, 3.5g protein

1. Combine the following ingredients in a food processor or blender: 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 ounce (about 6 tablespoons) vanilla protein powder, 1/3 cup spinach leaves, 1 packet no-calorie sweetener, 2 to 3 drops peppermint extract, and 1 cup crushed ice (about 6 ice cubes).

2. Blend until completely smooth and uniform, stopping and stirring if needed.

3. Evenly distribute into a 6-piece popsicle mold set, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top. (Pops will expand as they freeze.)

4. Insert popsicle handles. Freeze until solid, at least 3 hours.

Frozen Fruit and Veggies

Fruits and veggies are amazing, both in terms of taste and nutritional benefits. But they do tend to go bad quickly. That's why frozen produce is a healthy eater's BFF. It's typically frozen at peak freshness, so it's just as delicious and nutritious as fresh fruit and veggies. Plus, it’s usually less expensive!

If you’ve got the room, keep a solid stash of veggies in your freezer for easy side dishes, omelette additions, stir-frys, etc. Something I use at least a few times a week is cauliflower rice. If you can find this in bulk, grab it. It will come in handy, for sure.

And get some frozen fruit for smoothies, yogurt topping, and more (like these three berry-licious recipes). Here’s a fun recipe that calls for frozen peaches, but sub any frozen fruit of your choice, these 47-calorie treats will find their way into your home on a weekly basis!

Personal Peach Pies
1/12th of recipe (1 mini pie): 47 calories, 0.5g total fat (<0.5g sat fat), 55mg sodium, 10g carbs, 1g fiber, 4.5g sugars, 1g protein

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.

2. Place a wonton wrapper into each cup of the muffin pan. Press it into the bottom and up along the sides.

3. Lightly spray wrappers with nonstick spray. Bake until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a nonstick pot, combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1/2 cup water and stir to dissolve. Add the following ingredients: 3 cups finely chopped peaches (thawed from frozen), 2 tablespoons brown sugar (not packed), 1 packet no-calorie sweetener, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and a dash of salt. Set heat to medium. Stirring frequently, cook until peaches have slightly softened and mixture is thick and gooey, 6 to 8 minutes.

5. Remove from heat, and stir in 1 tablespoon of room temperature light whipped butter (or light buttery spread).

6. Spoon peach mixture into wonton cups, about 3 tablespoons each.

HG Tip: If you're not serving all of these the same day they're made, don't add the filling to the wonton cups. Store the cups at room temp in a sealable container or bag. Store the filling in the fridge in a sealed container, and fill the cups right before serving.

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