Thursday, October 29, 2015

What buying eggs at a wholesaler looks like


My usual day to hit up Cash & Carry for their twice-monthly specials is Friday. However, this week, I really wanted one particular item. It wasn't in their Hot Sheet, or other weekly specials. every Monday, when I check the Hot Sheet online, I also do a "search" on a couple of items on which I'm watching the price, lately milk, canned pumpkin, and eggs. This week, until Nov. 1, the 15 dozen case of eggs are price-reduced to $26.95, or about $1.79 per dozen.

After seeing this price reduction, I immediately went to the USDA egg report for the week. (Yes, a super-geek like me reads the USDA egg report.) Wholesale egg prices in the US have steadily dropped since their high in August. If the bird flu turns out to be a non-issue this fall and winter, then we can expect egg prices, retail, to follow this drop in price. However, historically, egg prices climb again towards the first of the year, peaking in December/January. That doesn't mean we can't see loss-leader sales on eggs nearer the holidays. that can certainly still happen, but will likely have "limits" imposed.

So, at $1.79 per dozen, I am wanting to stock up on enough eggs, as I can, to tide us through the holidays, and at least util February, possibly into March. Easter in 2016 is March 27. The week before Easter, eggs are often a loss-leader at a few of my local stores, this last year at Walgreen's and Target. If I can buy and freeze eggs now, while the price is low,\ for me, I can avoid having to buy eggs at peak prices later.

That was my thought process earlier this week. I have noticed that I am not the only shopper at Cash & Carry watching prices closely, this fall. I have missed a couple of really good deals because I went too late in the week (and they don't do rain checks). With this knowledge, I got everything together to do my shopping there a couple of days earlier -- Wednesday morning, instead of Friday.

As is my usual practice when there is a great deal on an item in a store, that I want to make sure I get, I made a beeline to the dairy walk-in. Sure enough, 1 case of these eggs left.  Glad I went on Wednesday.

A case of 15 dozen eggs is often called "loose pack". Contrary to how that sounds, that doesn't mean that a bunch of eggs are loose, rolling around in the bottom of a cardboard box. Eggs are place in egg trays, 2  1/2 dozen per layer (like when you buy a 5-dozen pack of eggs at the supermarket), 6 layers deeps in a cardboard box way too big to fit on any of my refrigerator shelves.


To handle all of these eggs, I get out my supply of used egg cartons.


And begin transferring eggs to cartons, one at a time. I mark the sell-by date on one of these cartons, as I'll be disposing of the large box when I'm done, here.


The sell-by date on these eggs is Nov. 5. However, the USDA assures us that eggs are still safe to eat weeks beyond the sell-by date. They just won't be as fresh, which matters most with dishes like poached eggs, as the whites thin and don't hold their mound shape in simmering water as neatly. But the eggs are still edible, still delicious, still function as eggs should in cooking and baking.

Plus, you all know that I freeze eggs, to use months later. From my last batch of frozen eggs (around Easter) I recently found a container in the freezer containing 6 beaten eggs. I used those in a quiche last week, and they were still fine. That's 6 months of storage in the freezer, and still good.



I'll begin working on freezing these eggs some time next week.


33 comments:

  1. That's a good price on eggs these days. Glad you got to the store early enough to take advantage of it.

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    1. Good morning, live and learn,
      My last purchase of eggs, at the beginning of the month was $1.97 a dz in a 5-dozen box. What are egg prices like in your area? I did read that east coast poultry farmers were urged to take precautions for this fall, with the bird flu virus.

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  2. Prices around my area were about $4 per dozen for most of the summer and fall. A man a work runs a "hobby farm" on the side and has been selling eggs for $2 a dozen. Brown eggs, and fresh and large. I have been buying those all summer and fall. Now I noticed that egg prices have fallen to $1.79 in the store. I have heard that eggs in the store are probably "old" in the sense that they have been sitting around somewhere for a while before actually getting into a store for sale. My question is "Best price or freshest eggs?" I have also heard that the bird flu became an issue yet again and I kind of expected the prices to remain at around $4 but they went down instead so not sure what's happening with that.

    We have cut our egg consumption unintentionally and for now I might just buy eggs from the hobby farm at $2.

    Alice

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    1. Hi Alice,
      for summer, here, grocery store prices have been around the $2.89 mark per dozen, when buying just 1 dozen at a time. I did find 5-dozen boxes for less per dozen, and the price really varied from one store chain to another.

      As for "old" eggs, I don't know how long a processor has before they are required to package eggs, but I do know that they have to date stamp the eggs, with a sell-by date no more than 30 days past the packing date.

      I've cooked with eggs that were well-past the sell-by date and never had a problem. Old-timers will tell you that eggs, if kept at the proper temperature, can keep for many weeks. What I don't know is whether or not eggs lose any nutritional potential with age.

      So, what I've read about the bird flu for this fall -- poultry raisers are being urged to increase precautions already this fall, there is a vaccine available for poultry, which from what I've read, it will be used judiciously to protect flocks, and there is currently pressure on the FDA to allow eggs set aside for hatcheries, which are in excess, to be released for sale to "breakers" (eggs to be pasteurized and used in things like cake mixes).

      As for egg prices dropping, part of that is people just stopped buying eggs as much when the prices soared. Supply/demand. Eggs are perishable and have to be sold. Best way to do that is allow market forces to drive down prices.

      I'm really glad you found someone selling eggs for a low price in your area, over summer. And you got high-quality eggs while saving money, plus supported a local business.

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    2. $2 for fresh farm eggs is a great price. People with backyard chickens in my neighborhood are selling them for $5. (I get them FREE from my sister)

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    3. Hi frugal spinster,
      now that's a great deal for you!

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  3. Lili, funny you should mention the "loose pack" moniker. The first time hubby brought home one of these boxes, I'll admit, I was a little confused about what I was going to find inside! ;)

    As an aside, with "older" eggs, while they aren't as good for some uses, aren't they easier to peel when you hard-boil them? Seems like I have heard that. Sara

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    1. Sara, yes!! Older eggs are much easier to peel when hard-boiled!

      I did not know this until a few years ago. My parents started keeping chickens and gifting us with eggs. The first time I hard-boiled those farm fresh eggs and tried to peel them was an experience! It took forever as I could only peel a tiny piece of shell each time.

      I mentioned it to my parents and they told me it's easier to use older eggs for hard-boiled. That was a lesson I took to heart. Lol.

      Angie

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    2. Hi Sara,
      it does sound like there will be eggs rolling around at the bottom of the box, doesn't it?

      I've had the same experience with hard-boiled eggs and peeling. Fresh eggs are really hard to peel.

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  4. Lili, good deal on the eggs. Glad you were able to stock-up! Thanks for explaining about the loose pack. Now if I find a loose pack, I won't be imagining loose eggs rolling around in the box.

    You mentioned that Easter in 2016 is March 27. I had been meaning to look at a 2016 calendar...glad you mentioned that. I'm already planning how much butter to buy at the Thanksgiving loss-leader sales. Knowing when Easter is helps me know how much to buy. I usually do well with my butter supply when getting through the period from Thanksgiving to Easter. I always seem to run out of butter from Easter to Thanksgiving. I need to stock up more on butter at Easter 2016.

    Angie

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    1. Hi Angie,
      That is how I plan, by calculating weeks between holidays. I don't always get it right, but I save money overall. With the eggs I currently have, it will be a bit of a stretch to make it to Easter, but if we're careful with not over-doing it on egg dishes, 15 dozen (plus the 2 dozen I still have) should come close to getting us till March.

      The hard part about stocking up on butter, using loss-leader sales at holidays, is there's that very low limit of 2, often imposed. I can only make so many passes by the store, or get so many family members to shop with me, limiting how much I can stock up. Frustrating.

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    2. Angie, what are egg prices like in your area right now? Have you noticed a price drop in recent weeks?

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    3. Lil, my Kroger hasn't had any limits on the loss-leader butter sales...yet. I hope they don't start implementing that. It would be difficult to stock-up with a limit of two! The problem I did have is that Kroger didn't have much of the butter left in stock when I shopped. I price matched at WalMart to finish stocking up.

      I think eggs are starting to come down a little. I've seen eggs on sale recently for $1.99 per dozen with no limit. The non-sale prices seem to be between $2.69 - $3.29. I haven't noticed any 5 dozen packs at Kroger or WalMart here. I will pay closer attention next time.

      Angie

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    4. Also, Angie, you might find 3-dozen packs, instead of 5-dozen. I've been seeing those, as well at some stores. Shrinking packages, but same (or close to same) price.

      Oh, wow! No limits on sale butter. That's a blast from the past! 20 years ago is when I remember being able to buy almost any loss-leader item without a limit, in my area. Good thinking to go to Wal-Mart to price-match, to finish stocking up.

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    5. I truly don't see limits on loss-leaders at my Kroger. Maybe it's because it's a small town? We only have a Kroger, WalMart, and a Save-A-Lot.

      Also, our loss-leaders may not be quite as spectacular as those in bigger cities. For instance, at Easter 2015 I was hearing that butter was $1.99/lb limit 2 at Kroger in bigger cities. At my Kroger, it was $2.50/lb with no limit. Still much better than the regular $4.00/lb, so I stocked up!

      I have seen limits of 2 on loss-leader items at my Rite Aid. Usually these are extremely low priced health/beauty items or laundry detergent and not food items though.

      I'm going to WalMart to grocery shop on my lunch hour today. I do need eggs and I'm curious to see if they have larger packs that I haven't noticed before. Maybe it would provide a little savings...

      Angie

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    6. Hi Angie,
      I'm curious if your Wal-Mart has the larger packs, too. In my local stores, I find them on the bottom shelf of the egg cooler.

      At your Kroger, can you do the Free Friday download offer? A free item every Friday. Here's the link:
      http://kroger.softcoin.com/programs/kroger/freefri_r2/?banner=Kroger&origin=freefri

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    7. Lili, here is the report from my Wal-Mart trip at lunch:

      I did find the 5 dozen packs of eggs! They were on the top shelf of the dairy case. It was $11.66 per 5 dozen pack of large white eggs. So, that works out to $2.33/dozen. The same large white eggs were priced at $2.86 in the 1 dozen carton.

      Also, some interesting dairy finds: 1 gallon of whole milk was $2.39. This is down quite a bit from the $2.99 regular prices that we've seen for a while. The sale prices have been $2.50/gallon.

      I found the Great Value 2 lb packs of butter for $5.68... $2.84/lb. The 1 lb packs of butter were $2.98. This is also down quite a bit. The price per pound had been $3.79 for quite some time...even just last week. I picked up a 2 lb pack because I'm down to my last stick. Not as good of a deal as I'll see next month, but the best I could find for now. I thought I would mention it...anyone else in the same spot as me might check WalMart for those 2 lb packs.

      Well, my vacuum cleaner is calling! Have a great weekend. I can't wait to read the October grocery journal post next week. :)

      Angie

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    8. Oh, I forgot to mention my Kroger does have the Free Friday download offer. I have a hard time remembering to do that. I need a system for that like I have for the survey. Thanks for the reminder. Now, the vacuum!

      Angie

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    9. Hi Angie,
      that's good info on what Wal-mart carries and their prices. I think especially good to knw is the two-pound package of butter, as very few grocery stores carry 2-pound packages in my area. I'll check our Wal-Mart next time I'm over there, to see if that's a package size the WMs in our area carry, as well.

      Sometimes we have to buy a little bit of something at a higher price, to tide us over to loss leader sales coming soon.

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  5. We must have eggs on the brain! Aldi had eggs for $1.89/dozen yesterday so I bought 2 dozen. I overheard the manager saying that he thinks egg prices will continue to fall (he's very "on-the-ball" and I trust what he says) so hopefully prices will continue to improve. We haven't purchased many eggs in the past few months due to the prices--funny to think that, no so long ago, I considered $1.89 to be highway robbery and refused to buy them. It's a sliding scale, isn't it?

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    1. Hi Kris,
      That's a good price for a 1-dozen carton. Do any of your stores sell 5-dozen packs? Have the prices on those been any lower than $1.89/dozen.

      I know what you mean, I never would have thought $1.79 was a good price. If the price goes any lower between now and Easter (before the Easter sales), I'll buy more. I don't expect we'll see 99 cents a dozen this holiday season, maybe $1.50/dozen as a loss leader. At least for my area. But I was encouraged to see the 5-dozen pack at Cash & Carry for less this week, from last.

      I am afraid/worried that turkey prices will be a lot higher this November. We'll know in a coupe of weeks, though, won't we?

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    2. Ummm, not sure? I've seen 2 dozen cartons before--I don't think the stores would put 5 dozen boxes out in a grab-and-go area but maybe they store them in a back cooler.

      I agree, turkey will most likely be a lot higher in price this November. I'm wondering if the recent health report about the carcinogens in ham will have people looking for alternatives for Christmas--the stores may see that as an opportunity to sell turkey even higher ... I have no proof of that, just thoughts I've had.

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    3. Kris,
      in our stores, the 5-dozen packs are usually on the bottom shelf in the same cooler as the rest of the eggs. Not every store carries these packs, but a few do.

      Hmmm, I don't know how much these news stories will affect people's menu planning, for this year. It could be something that takes a few years to have a substantial effect. A lot of folks have known for years that hot dogs contain carcinogens, but Americans still eat a lot of hot dogs, same with processed lunch meat. It may be too late for this for this year, but it would be nice to see a larger stock of preserving alternatives for ham, as we are now finding with nitrate-free hot dogs in stores.

      If turkey prices are significantly higher this year, will that alter many Thanksgiving menus?

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  6. Replies
    1. Hi Anne,
      what are egg prices in your area, these days? Have you noticed a price drop since summer?

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  7. Holy Moly! Who knew there was a USDA egg report?!? Only you, Lili! :-)

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    1. Hi Cat,
      Ha ha! Of course there's an egg report -- what else would someone like me turn to for leisure reading, late at night?

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  8. Last week I spent $2.79 a dozen at my Aldi and I live in Western Pa. None of our stores seem to have them on sale. I will be shopping at Aldis on Frday, would love to see lower prices but will be very surprised if we do. Our cost of food is high, no reduced meat or dairy ( at times a $1.00 or $3.00) off a pack of meat that is too high and ready to expire.

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    1. Hi Cheryl,
      $2.79 is about what the regular price of eggs has been in traditional grocery stores, in my area, when buying 1 dozen at a time. Do you get a price-break on a 5-dozen pack?

      Are there sales on eggs the week before Easter in PA? If so, what is the "good" sale price that week? (That's the price I go by to judge how high or low other region's egg prices are.) In our area, for recent years, 99 cents/dozen is the "good" sale price on eggs the week before Easter.

      Currently, egg wholesale prices are lowest in the Mid-west, highest in South-central US. The Northeast, as a region, is just above average price, wholesale. Egg supply is down about 8% nationwide, Sept 2015, from Sept 2014, so we won't be seeing any super low egg prices any time soon.

      Do you price Medium eggs in your area? Sometimes the Medium eggs can be a real deal.

      Are "hobby farms" allowed in your area, like what Alice has, where she was able to buy eggs from an independent, small operation?

      I know that these price regulations are just to keep farmers from going bankrupt, and give them a fair price. But it sure makes it hard for consumers to feed families at a low cost.

      Good luck!

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  9. Hi, Lili,
    I'm in the U.P. of Mich. No deals on eggs, here. We're running 2.99 per doz; 8.69 for 3 doz. Of course, i buy the three. I went an hour away this A.M. and checked a store for deals. They had a 'special' where you had to spend 20.00, and have a coupon, and you could get a doz eggs for 99 cents, limit two. I stood there a minute while i considered it; i spent 5.00 and left without eggs.
    Last week, an hour in a different direction, i stopped into St. Vinnies. They had a sign up where they were selling eggs for 2.00 a doz. I got the last two, and was thankful! I'm vegetarian, so i usually use quite a few eggs. I've cut back, though.
    As for butter, i'm down to my last pound. I've been looking for the past few weeks. With baking season starting i'm getting a bit concerned. (Plus, i do like a little bagel with my butter…) It's running about 3.49 lb. Even GFS is high priced here. That was my go-to if everyone else was high.

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    1. Hi momsav,
      Wow, a minimum spend just to buy eggs! So, your $2 per dozen was a good deal, for your area.

      Any non-traditional places to shop for eggs in your area? Like a "hobby farm"?r a neighbor who keeps chickens? Some Dollar Trees carry eggs, though they're Medium and usually only 6 per carton.

      For butter, for table use (spreading on bread products), could you make soft butter, blending your stick butter with vegetable oil? That's what I do when I'm running low on butter. I posted a while back on making soft butter:
      http://www.creativesavv.com/2014/02/making-soft-butter.html

      that's the post and has the proportions I use.

      We're just a couple of weeks out from butter as a loss leader, I'm guessing. I start to see stores advertising butter in the week before Thanksgiving (Nov. 26, this year). Hopefully you can hold out until then.

      In the meantime, if you need to bake cookies -- gingerbread cut-outs are a no-egg, low butter (1/4 cup for a large batch of dough), with the Joy of Cooking recipe. My cookbook is from the 70s, so I hope they haven't changed that recipe. A lot of online gingerbread men recipes do call for eggs, and more butter. I like my very frugal JofC recipe.And I make these cookies all times of the year, just using different cutters (I made leaves this month, and often do flowers in spring and hearts around Valentine's Day).

      Good luck

      p.s. and now I finally know what you mean by the UP! I had wondered that a long time ago, in a comment of yours.

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  10. Fantastic price, Lili. I'm thrilled for you. :)

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    1. Thank you, Belinda! I'm hoping to make these last until Easter, in the freezer, at least.

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I'm so glad that you stopped by today. Please comment, and let me know what you're thinking.