Over the years, as my cooking has evolved into an amateur professional level my shopping and sourcing skills have advanced that way as well! It took me a lot of years to evolve this practice and I wanted to share it with all of you. I’ve always been price conscious when I shopped but with the recent inflation surge, I’ve been even more aware of prices. With that in mind I’ve been more inclined to shop at the local restaurant warehouse. It’s a great way to get quality products and at a “reasonable” price.
Pros, Cons & Tips and Tricks of Depot Shopping
- You will get better quality ingredients than you’ll get at your local supermarket
- You will pay a cheaper price per pound for meat and seafood food!
- You’ll be able to get products you can’t find at your local supermarket. One thing I love are long plated big bone short ribs. (Picture below) Also if you want to break these in half, you’ll need to add a food axe saw to your kitchen gadgets.
- You’ll be able to find cheap high quality kitchen pots, and pans. Sheet pans and nonstick fry pans are a must!
- I also bought a catering food storage cooler here that I love. I use it to travel with food for vacation and pack with ice packs. I also use it for a sous vice container when I am sous vide large cuts of meat. Check out the pic below.
- Can be logistically overwhelming… at first! But in time once you know where you are going it is much easier to navigate.
- You need a tax ID to shop, or you need a great friend to lend you their depot card (luckily, I have a good buddy that gave me a duplicate he had years ago. It still works, Thanks Zig)
- You need to buy in bulk and in large quantities for the most part but there is no minimum spend to check out. If you already shop at Costco or BJS you should be familiar with this, and it should not be much of an issue. I’ve heard the depot described as a Costco on steroids!
- Can be very crowded at times and you may need to wait on long lines. This can be overcome by finding the right store and going at the right time. I sometimes have flexibility during my workday and can go off hours. I’ve found mid-week around 2pm is a great time to avoid crowds. Typically, this is when chefs are back in the kitchen prepping for dinner service.
- When buying meat in bulk you’ll want to have some butcher skills and some meat will need to be broken down to smaller portions. If you have no desire to do this, then the depot is not for you.
Tips & Tricks
- Grab a cart always.
- Scan your card when you get there. (If you don’t it will delay the check-out process)
- Know if its cash only! Jetro is cash and carry.
- Bring reusable big bags or boxes to carry your stuff in
What to buy
- Meat, big cuts of Strip Loin, Rib Eye, Long Bone Short Ribs, Skirt Steak, Pork Racks!
- Canned Crab Meat
- Frozen Yellow Fin Tuna
- Big bags of Frozen Fruit
- Flour for big bakers (Yea that’s you Sweets!)
- Dried pasta and beans
- Plastic wraps and foil
- Mixing Bowls, storage containers, serving utensils