Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fill your pantry-an insurance policy

I am a believer in keeping my pantry as filled as I can afford. It really is an insurance policy. If you can learn to buy in bulk when things are on sale you can be able to buy only sale items.

For example: Last year we bought and canned chicken breast when it was at the lowest price we had seen it, in this case it was 1.79lb. I canned enough to last at least until the next sale. In our case the best price came a whole year later. This time I was able to purchase boneless, skinless chicken breasts for 1.48 a pound. Of course I canned at least another years worth.

I buy flour in 25 or 50 lb. sacks and store in icing buckets I get for free at bakeries. I make bread often enough that I don't worry about bugs because I go thru it fast. Flour seems to go on sale about every 3 to 4 months. At least the price I call a good one. This time I purchased 25lbs for 4.99. This is about the best price I can find.

For my whole wheat flour, I bought a few bushels from a neighbor who grows organic wheat for Bob's red mill. I paid what they got from Bob's. It was much cheaper than buying from the store of course. I then froze and refroze the wheat. It now sits in the basement in 5 gallon buckets. I usually grind 5 to 10 lbs. at a time and store in the extra fridge we have in our garage.

My favorite price is free or close to free so I use coupons.

A couple of days ago I went to United in Guymon for some salad. We like spinach in our salad so I picked up 2 packages of Dole spinach and one package of Cesar salad mix. I noticed they had a recipe booklet in a little rack, I looked at it and sure enough there was a 1.00 coupon in it. United doubles coupons up to 1.00 so that meant I could get 2.00 off per bag. United will only double one like coupon per transaction so I just made 3 separate transactions. I saved 6.00 and paid 2.00 total including tax for 3 bags of salad. Not quite free but pretty good.

I realized I sure could have saved even the 2.00 if I were to grow my own salad mixes. That is why on my side bar I have it listed to plant that. After my initial cost of potting soil and seeds, all of my salad will be free. My favorite price.

This year we all need to plant as much of our food as we can. It may mean a couple of tomato plants, some lettuce and a pepper or two but anything you can grow is more than you had before.

In times past nearly everyone had a garden and I think we need to get back to that. Food doesn't magically appear in the grocers.

Anyway back to my original post.

I buy only things my family likes and we will use. If we never eat sardines even free sardines are not a bargain. Unless you have a friend who loves sardines. Why be a waster?

Another good thing to keep on hand are several kinds of dry beans and rice. Both store well and are good dishes for yummy meals.

I tried canning dry beans but the process was so long, soak, cook and then can it was more time then I wanted to spend. What I do now is soak, cook package into meal sized freezer bags and freeze. When I canned the beans we ate them so fast it wasn't worth the time and bother. So I just cook about 3 to 4 meals worth and freeze. I try to have navy, black and pinto beans frozen for a variety of dishes.

On my birthday a couple of years ago I received a very nice rice cooker. At the time it seemed silly. I started using it and now I love it. Don't buy the cheapo kind get a good one. I have used my rice cooker on mission trips to cook many things. I even took it to a craft day recently filled with canned stew items and it was a hit. I used canned beef, potatoes, carrots and then added beef stock and some barley. We gobbled it up.

Do you have pantry stocking ideas to share?

1 comment:

loves2spin said...

I also try as hard as I can to keep a fully stocked pantry. That way, I can buy at the best price, when things are on sale, or when they are plentiful and the prices are lower. We keep a big garden and preserve as much as we can, and share the extra with out neighbors. Since there are only the two of us now, when I cook I often cook a large batch of something and then freeze the extra in meal sized containers. That saves lots of time. I pick wild blackberries and make jam with those, and elderberries and freeze those for muffins and also to make elderberry tincture to help fight colds. We also are blessed in having an unheated greenhouse and in August (zone 5). In August I plant things like onion sets, radishes, turnips (for greens) mache, leaf lettuce, kale, Italian dandelions, swiss chard, carrots. Inside of the greenhouse we have some raised beds inside of wooden frames and in the summer we take the plastic off the greenhouse altogether, but as the weather gets colder in the fall, we put the plastic back on and then when the weather gets really cold, we put wire wickets over the beds and cover them with floating row cover for another layer of protection from the wild swings in temperature. We can harvest nice fresh organic things all winter! I also like to plant a lot of kale in the spring and when the cold weather comes, just put some clear plastic over it and weight it down with bricks or rocks. I can pick kale all winter and into the spring. Also, if I plant carrots and parsnips in the spring, when fall comes and there are some left in the ground, I put on a good layer of straw or leaves or hay and put a tarp or plastic over that and I can dig those things all winter and into the spring too. That really helps. I don't have to buy much fresh food at any time of year when things are working properly. We got the basic idea for the greenhouse for Elliot Coleman's book "Four Season Harvest." And the gardening techniques from "Square Foot Gardening" have been very helpful too, although mainly we just filled our boxes with the "Mel's Mix" described in the book. I have used the square foot gardening techniques very successfully when I had limited ability to garden due to health concerns, but now we are back to what my dear husband calls "dirt farming." :D I admire what you are doing! We live in the country and I keep milk goats and so we have plenty of milk and I have learned to make cheese and brew kefir. It is such a blessing.