It is the time of year, once again, when I find myself busy preparing and putting up food for the cold winter months that lie ahead for us. For a number of reasons I find it comforting to have a nice supply of food stocked up in our pantry and freezers, not the least of which is simply peace of mind.
When the weather turns cold the higher heating bills tend to dig into our monthly cash flow more than usual. Needing less from the grocery store during those months means we'll feel the pinch a little less. I also appreciate that I won't need to shop at all when the weather gets nasty and road conditions are iffy.
As fruits and vegetables are in season and ingredients go on sale I've been able to make jam, salsa and pickles for the pantry. A good buy on strawberries last spring ended up as sliced berries for the freezer and a batch jam.
Early in the summer I bought whole wheat and all purpose flour in bulk when it was on sale. I put it away in our chest freezer for long term storage. I saved ice cream buckets to store it in, to keep it fresher and make it accessible. Lugging those big bags in and out isn't much fun.
I also purchased a 25# bag of oatmeal on sale last spring. Storing it in canisters and ice cream buckets makes it easier to store and access in our pantry. As sugar has gone on sale I've purchased it and put it away in our pantry too.
We grew our own cucumbers this year and along with enjoying them fresh I was able to make a small batch of bread and butter pickles. Jalapeño and bell peppers went into our homemade salsa. I found the other ingredients we needed on sale. I've also slice up jalapeños and pickled them to enjoy with meals later on. A friend gave us a nice bag of cucumbers and I sliced them into spears and put up seven jars of dill pickles.
When boneless skinless chicken breast halves went on sale for $1.69 a pound I bought 25 pounds to freeze and put up. I laid them out on a baking sheet and froze them for three hours. I then removed them, placing them into two gallon storage bags. It took me an entire day to get them done because of limited freezer space to place the baking sheet but it was a great project to do while I also worked on others. I set the timer on the stove so I didn’t get sidetracked and forget about it. I ended up filling two of the two gallon Ziploc bags with chicken.
I bought 10 pounds of pork sausage and 10 pounds of lean ground beef on sale at Cash & Carry. The sausage was $2.00 a pound and the ground beef $3.10 a pound. I used my great grandmothers scale to weigh it out in 10 ounce portions which is the perfect size for our little family. I ended up with 16 packages of each meat, 32 total, which I put into individual labeled sandwich bags and then all 16 fit perfectly inside a 2 gallon storage bag.
As I find cheese on sale I buy and portion it in two cups per bag. Then I place the labeled bags all together in a larger bag and freeze. When I'm ready to use the cheese I take out a package, place it in the refrigerator and thaw. It thaws out perfectly every time.
Case of tuna at 39¢ a can
Canned goods, oils, spices, beans, rice and pasta are all other items I buy in quantity as they go on sale for really good prices. Any chance I have to save additional money using coupons I take full advantage.
|$1.88 a bag|
I recently added 10 pounds of potatoes and 10 pounds of onions to our supplies.