Smart, Frugal And Tasty: Preserving Your Food
There are so many ways to preserve food for future use that are easy and cheap. Whether you shop at the grocery store for great loss leader deals, grab a bushel of something at the local farmer’s market or pick your own berries from the backyard, you can stretch that savings and make it last throughout the year. Americans have gotten out of the habit of preserving their produce by letting mega food conglomerates do the work for them. In fact, preserving has become almost an unknown event in many households.
1. Canning: The thought of pretty jars lining a pantry shelf, filled with homemade jams and jellies is heart-warming to many. Whether you use them as inexpensive gifts or a staple at your breakfast table, homemade is cheap, easy and fun. Recipes are everywhere on the internet. Pick an easy to make jam first and invite a friend over for moral support. You can move your way up to more time-consuming jellies, vegetables, salsa and even homemade pasta sauce. A few hours spent in the kitchen can feed your family frugally all winter.
2. Freezing: Obviously, stocking up on extra meat and storing it in the freezer is something most of us do. Think outside the (ice) box. Jalapeno and Banana peppers are cheap at the Farmer’s Market and can be easily stored in a zipped top bag for use all year. If you are nervous about canning, you can even try a recipe for Strawberry Freezer Jam that requires no effort. Don’t forget you can always make a double batch of homemade soup and put the other half in your handy freezer for a quick, low cost meal on a busy day when you don’t have time to cook.
3. Pickling: Save the taste of summer abundance by pickling a variety of vegetables. Cucumbers, cauliflower, green beans and even watermelon rind all make great tasting pickles. You can even create your own specialty relishes, like sweet pickle relish or a spicy corn relish. In fact, homemade sauerkraut is so much better than store bought. If the thought of a small science experiment makes you hesitant, test the waters with pickles made in your refrigerator. Just mix and chill.
4. Dehydrating: You are probably picturing the preservative-laden, plastic wrapped jerky collecting dust at your local gas station right about now but homemade jerky is amazing. The flavor is remarkable, you control the seasonings and you have a frugal way to preserve meat and fish. Better yet, a dehydrator can be used for so many other foods. Herbs can be dried quickly for future use and fruit can be cheaply turned into fruit chips or fruit leathers for a nutritional snack.
If you haven’t yet tried your hand at any of the above methods for preserving food, think about it. It is a healthy and frugal alternative for the pre-package stuff at the grocery store and it can be a lot of fun.
If you use any of the methods above, please share your favorite method and recipe!
P.S. I’ll be posting some of my favorite resources & recipes soon so keep an eye out