Blog Archives

Just the Basics

I have had a lot of email asking about exactly how to start a storage pantry and exactly what are good things to keep in it. Most know that since April our family has relied almost exclusively on our pantry.

This sure is a hard question to answer. Every one is different. I would start by saying fill it with things your family will eat. Fill it with enough to last your family a reasonable amount of time. What that means for your family you will need to decide. For us that means about 6 months if not more.

Natural and Basic:

A good place to start. Basic flour, sugar, salt, butter and a few spices can be made into many dishes. They in the long run will take up less space than several types of boxed cookie, brownie, muffin & cake mixes. And basic ingredients are always less expensive and better quality than prepackaged foods.

A few simple spices and herbs can be made into many of your favorite premade mixes. Italian dressing mix, Ranch dip mix, bread crumbs, brown sugar are a few that come to mind and a good place to start.

Start a few basic cooking recipes, try them then change and adapt them to your liking. Keeping the recipes all in one place will save you time hunting them down. I tape to the outside of my mixes jars the rest of the recipe, this way I don’t need to look it up, and if someone else need to mix up some they will have a clue. But you will find in time you will come to know them off the top of your head, just as my grandmother and probably your’s did too. How satisfying is that?

Basic natural ingredients also allows you to control exactly what is in the food you and your family are eating. Artificial color and preservatives are not something I choose to add to our food. So why purchase boxed food with that stuff in it? 

Around here I really watch the amount of sugar in all forms my family eats. I can control the kind and amount of any thing added to our food. Want more fiber? choose whole grains instead of white flour.

So who has the time?

That’s a question I get all the time. Thinking you don’t have time is the first step to not getting it done. You will find a few minutes here and there while you are doing other things. Waiting for the potatoes to cook, mix up a jar of your favorite rub to add to them next time you bake them. Make enough (once you know you like it) to last for several uses.

No time to pull everything out to make pancakes? How about next time you make them cook extra and freeze them. They reheat well in the toaster. Daisy loves them rolled up with peanut butter, and they are better for her than pop-tarts.

To get yourself started you could set aside a Saturday morning to do a bunch of cooking and mixing, enough for the week.

cupboard-after2Consider size and space:

Where are you going to store your food and supplies? I have several storage spaces throughout my house. In the cellar, our’s is dry and cool in the summer and heated to about 60°f in the winter. There you will find my large storage pantry it’s actually two, floor to ceiling cupboards, a metal storage rack and our large freezer.

Up stairs I have two cupboards in the kitchen that is baking supplies, herbs and spices. A third to hold bulk items such as flours & oats held in manageable sized containers. And a fourth that holds the items we are currently using and a few can goods so I don’t have to run down cellar all the time.

Finding space:

Finding space to store you food can be tricky at times. You will want a cool dry space that you can get to fairly easily. You will be adding to and using from it frequently. This is why my frequently used items are in close easy reach. While the bulk of the pantry are out of the way yet still easy to get to and manage at least weekly if not daily.

cupboards A cupboard, storage shelves or even boxes will work. Look around and be creative.

I have a friend who when redoing her house dedicated an entire room to food storage. She like me keeps lots of food and supplies. Yet another friend has just as much and she hides it well. Lift up one of her beautiful side table skirts in her living room and you will find wooden boxes full of her canned goods. Look in her closet and there are packages of paper goods stacked amongst her shoes. Under her bed are boxes full of even more food all carefully hidden away, yet she knows in a moment where to go to get what she needs. Another friend doesn’t keep much other than 1 or 2 extra of anything and a single shelf above her washer and dryer works for her. She is a traveling girl with her job and her family, so she is not home much.

Start small and as time goes by you will discover space to fit your supplies, food and needs. Right now if all you can do is dedicate one shelf of a cupboard that’s the place to start and work from there.

How to pay for it all:

Some choose to take a bit from savings or save a bit each week and when enough is saved make a big purchase to start off. Others choose to purchase a little each week as their budget allows. You will need to decide how you want to do it. I wouldn’t suggest going in to debt or borrowing money to do it. I also personally wouldn’t take money from my savings either.

It also will depend on how you do your shopping. Do you go every day, once a week or once a month? If you have your pantry running well daily trips will become a thing of the past.:)

I personally do my shopping once a once a month, but I miss many of the sales this way. I watch the sale fliers and only make purchases for my family around the sales.  I keep a list of things we are running low on and I also know how much of something our family uses until that item goes on sale again. I keep a list of what we use, where it was bought and how much it was.

Should I happen to find a GREAT sale (this doesn’t happen so much any more) I will buy a few extra that my budget will allow. Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale, make sure you will use it before it goes bad,  and that your family will like the food. You don’t want to throw away food you didn’t eat.

bulk cupboardRotate:

Rotating your food supplies is pretty simple. The oldest to be used first is in the front. When I add something new I will take all of the same off the shelf, check the expiration dates and put the ones expiring soonest to the front to be used first. 

Some times this is tricky to find the information and you have to learn how to read the codes. Some packages or cans list a best by date. Some have a code printed on the can lid or bottom.  Most times it’s in a MM/DD/YY format. Sometimes it’s so small it’s hard to read, a quick note on the top with a marker solves this problem.

How I organize it all:

Large pantry: The large pantry is actually two cupboards in the cellar. They hold the bulk of things we are not currently using such as canned and dehydrated goods, extra spices and herbs. Things we will use that haven’t been opened yet.

Bulk storage: Is divided into 2 areas. One that is food and these shelves are in the cellar. In this area are the large buckets of things we use a lot of such as flours, sugar, oats, rice, gallons of vinegar, dehydrated foods. Also there are things like bottled water in gallons, bottled juice for long term storage.

In the second area these are stored in the out shed. Non food things like emergency supplies, lamp oil, lamp parts, candles, matches, first-aid supplies, duct tape, stored seeds, cans of gas, propane, rolls of plastic, batteries, paper goods. Things we do use but also well stocked up on. Things that are ok if they freeze, the shed is not heated.

Spice cupboard: Is in the kitchen and holds all the spices and herbs, flour, sugar, salt, home made mixes. When one of these smaller containers needs filling I go to the large pantry and fill them.

Large freezer: This stores all the frozen meats, breads, cheeses, veggies and fruits. Anything that won’t be eaten soon and in large quantities.

Small freezer: Is in the kitchen and stores small packages of things I am currently using. If I open a jar of sauce and don’t use it all here is where I store it until gone. Canning jars work well for freezing although they can waste space if not full. Some times I use plastic freezer bags. Here is where I store all the opened frozen packages and small portions, and meals I have premade, they are handy for a quick meal. This is my working from freezer. I have written about it here.

I will choose to can or dehydrate items before freezing them. If the freezer breaks or we lose power the canned and dehydrated items will still be safe. Also our freezer isn’t a big, big one, I would say medium size. This was done by choice.

cupboard

How to store things:

Bulk items such as flour, sugar, oats, rice, beans are put into large food safe plastic containers and stored in the bulk food section. Most of these items I can’t buy loose in bulk so they come in paper. I keep the food in the paper and use the buckets to keep out things like moisture, light, bugs…The paper keeps my food from contacting the plastic. They are food safe I just don’t like the idea of it and the buckets stack nicely. A quick look at the label and I know whats in it and when it was put in there.

Home canned jars, I remove the rings and can stack them two high with a piece of cardboard between them.  This was a consideration I thought of and planned for when the cupboard was built. The cardboard adds stability and keeps the glass from being banged when the jars are picked up and set down.

Bulk herbs and spices either from the health food store or my own garden are stored in quart canning jars. The jars are lined with brown paper to keep out the light. Again a label and a date and I’m happy.

I do store some paper goods, I know ghasp! These are in long term storage, paper plates, towels, aluminum foil and even plastic wrap. These are part of our emergency supplies. If the power is out and I don’t want to start the generator I use these, it makes clean up much easier. Also I think in my mind that in a long term emergency these will be valuable and traded for things I may want. (hey, I can’t help it I think about these things.) I also store bathroom paper and tissues, for the same reasons and I play with poop all day I just can’t bring myself to force my family to use cloth. Although it’s a great idea, I don’t need the extra work. They are all stacked on the shelves and I know quickly if any thing needs replacing.

So where do I find all these glass and plastic storage buckets?

Well many of the glass gallon jars, the kind pickles or relish comes in bulk from our local country store. They were just this relish, mustard and pickle jars. They saved them for me. The food safe containers came from the same store, they get premade muffin and cookie mixes in them for their bakery section. (and people think they are homemade) A local donut shop is another good source as well as the grocery deli. Their salads and things come in large buckets. Ask them to save them for you, lately though the grocery has started selling the buckets for $2. each, it’s worth it when I need more.

I also bring home glass jars from our town’s recycle center. This is a great place to find them, they are clean and the labels are already taken off. I have my friend’s and family save them for me. Here in the US glass jars are fast becoming a thing of the past, more and more products are now put into plastic containers. I can’t tell you the last time I saw a glass mayo jar on the store shelf. Even the organic mayo is in plastic. geesh!

Look in yard sales, thrift stores for canning jars. You can buy replacement tops and rings. Although this year the canning jars I see in the yard sales aren’t cheep any more. People realize they are in demand this year.

Keep track of it all:

One other thing I do is keep lists of everything in the different storage areas. When something is running low I will add it to my shopping list and replace it within the next few trips. I use clip boards with a pencil tied to it, and use the √ off system. One check for each item. 7 checks is 7 containers.

I used to try and keep this info in my home binder but found that I never took the time to go to it to update my lists. Now there is a list at every storage area. And the shopping list hung on the fridge.

Some weeks every thing on my shopping list isn’t crossed off, so I simply keep it on the list until I can cross it off.

Would you share with me some of your tips and storage solutions?

Canning Basics

pickels

Home canning or preserving can be a very rewarding task. Once you know the basics it’s pretty easy and very safe if you follow the recommendations and don’t take short cuts.

It may seem like lots of work to start with but come winter, and around here they come soon and last forever, opening a jar of home canned goods is a nice reminder of the summer past and a comfort to know the food you prepared is wholesome and nutritious for your family.

 

sauce

Pizza sauce and a jar lifter

Canning jars are made by several manufactures here in the US. The most popular are the Ball, American Harvest and Kerr brands. They can be found at any local hardware store, farm store or even the grocery or department stores.

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Pints and Quarts are the most popular, but don’t rule out other sizes as they make nice gifts. There is also the option of regular mouth or wide mouth styles. Regular mouth are smaller in diameter at the top while the wide mouth are wider. To me I prefer the wide mouth, they are easier to pack food into.

Years back all sorts of glass jars were saved to use for canning, but sadly today the USDA doesn’t recommend it. Don’t toss theses jars out they can be used for other things as well.

Before using your jars each time you will need to first inspect them for cracks, deep scratches and nicks. Any that you find can’t be used safely for canning but will have other uses for storing things like leftovers or dry goods, so don’t toss them out unless badly damaged. Chipped jars will not seal and cracked or deeply scratched jars may burst in the canner making a mess you won’t want to clean up.

 

Lids and Bands

Today’s jars here in the US are all a 2 piece system- a flat metal part known as a lid and a screw top band to secure the lid down. You can reuse the bands if they are not bent or rusty. Don’t reuse the lids for canning , the USDA tell us they will not seal properly and your food will spoil and make you sick. 

You can however reuse the lids if you are just going to store dry goods or leftovers in the jars. I put an X on them with a marker so I know they have been canned with, if they don’t already have writing on the top. I like to write on the lids the contents of the jar after they have cooled from the canner. That’s me though, others use a label on the side of the jar, I don’t because I hate labels, they are a pain to me to get back off the jar when washing them.

If I intend to give the jar as a gift I make a little tag, punch a hole in the corner and use a string to tie it to the jar just under where the band screws down. Or I make a round label to fit the lid and cover up all the writing. Either way works nicely.

lids

all ready to move to the pantry

Bands and lids come in 2 sizes just like the jars, regular and wide mouth. When you purchase new lids be sure you have enough plus a few extra of the size you need. More than once I have opened a new package of lids and found one or two that are damaged. Either they are missing part of the metal when they were stamped out or the rubber on the inside is badly nicked or missing. CHECK THE LIDS before putting them on your jars.

 

Sterilize your jars and lids

You will want to wash your jars, lids and bands in hot soapy water then rinse them well.

Next set them in a deep pot and fill it with water the jars too, to cover them by at least 1″ above the top of them. Set the pot to boil and continue to boil for about 10 minutes. This is know as sterilizing your jars. You can also do this in the dishwasher if you have one. Wash only the jars when sterilizing them and not with other dirty dishes. Leave them where they are until you are ready to fill them with what every you are going to can in them.

The lids should be placed in a small pan of boiling water and left there until you are ready to use it. They make a nifty tool with a magnet on the end to fish them out of the hot water one at a time. A good investment, but me I just quickly grab one and get burnt every time.

If your jars are going to be processed for 10 minutes or more there is no need to sterilize your jars, but they do need to be clean.

canning1The canner

There are many brands of canners on the market. Both the water bath canners and pressure canners. But if you are starting out I would suggest using a water bath canner until you get comfortable with how the whole process works then move on the investment of a pressure canner.

Water Bath Canners

A water bath canner is basically a large enamel coated pot, very deep to hold the jars while processing them. There are racks made to lift the jars in and out of the boiling water. But any large pot will work as long as you can cover the jars with at least 2″ of water above the top of the jars and the water won’t boil out all over your stove. It will also need a cover.

If you don’t have a rack, that’s okay too, you can use a round cooling rack or even a folded towel on the bottom. This will keep the jars from banging on the bottom of the pot and cracking them.

A 23 quart water bath canner can hold 7 jars at a time. You will be limited to what you can process in a water bath canner. Jams, jellies, tomatoes, pickles, some fruits and relish. Basically high acid food. You can not can veggies, meats, stews, broth or simular items in the water bath canner, you must use a pressure canner. 

 

Pressure Canners

Now, while it is true that all foods can be processed in a pressure canner, and this will save considerable time because they come to a boil quicker, can hold more jars and processing times can also be quicker.

 Some might not want to or have the means to purchase such an expensive piece of equipment as a pressure canner.   Not that there is any thing to be afraid of or worry about with a pressure canner as long as you follow the instructions. They are very easy and versatile. A good investment for the homestead. You can also cook entire meals in them.

If you do decide to purchase a pressure canner don’t skimp on the size or quality. Buy the best and largest you can afford. The All American Pressure Canner is about the best I have found and have been recommended to me by many seasoned home canners and homesteaders alike. They will last a life time if taken care of.

canner

A water bath canner with lifting rack

 

Your cooking pot

This should be another large deep pot with a fitting cover. Again enamel coated or stainless steel. Aluminum will react with many foods. You also want this pot plenty deep enough so the contents won’t boil over onto your stove top. I use a double bottom stainless steel stock pot.

 

Other equipment

Lots of clean dry kitchen towels to wipe up spills and used damp to wipe the rim and sides of jars before adding the lids and bands. Also for setting your processed jars on when they come out of the canner to cool.

A wide mouth funnel is a good thing to have. It helps get the food into the jars without making such a mess. I have seen these in both plastic and metal. Mine is plastic and after just a few short years of use it it’s starting to crack. So I would suggest to start our right with a nice metal one.

A ladle, large slotted stainless steel spoon, and large wooden spoon. For stirring and filling your jars.

A jar lifter, this is a sepecial tool with rubber on the ends to lift the jars in and out of the canner.

A kitchen knife. For removing air bubbles from the jars before putting on the lids and bands. Simply slide it into the jar to where the air bubbles are. They also make a special spatular for this task, but I never have tried one.

Good sized pieces of cheese cloth for straining jellies.

There are probably other gadgets out there for canning, but these are the basics to start with and all that I use here.

 Where to store the jars

canning

Beautiful carrot relish ready to give away. Can you see the tag in the back?

A cool, dry and dark place is ideal. I remove the bands and store the jars in the pantry & stack them 2 high. One disadvantage to the way I label my jars is there is no writing on the side of the jar to tell me what is in it, but a quick look at the top and I know. If I am going to store them 2 high I use a piece of cardboard on top of the first layer of jars. This keeps them from banging together and provides a stable base for the top layer to sit on.

Storing them in the jar box is another good way, and you will know where to put all the empty jars.

 

Where to find the recipes

Well, I would recommend you make the investment and purchase the Ball Blue Book or the Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning and Freezing.There are many great books available but this is the one I have. Or go to one of the trusted canning site and print out the recipe and put them in a 3 ring binder.

There are also many sites on the Internet:

USDA Canning Publications be sure to check out the publications link for more info.

Complete Guide to Home Canning (PDF)

Pick Your Own website- has tons of info and recipes there.

Ball Website- great info and recipes

A word of caution, before deciding on a recipe you find on the Internet, check one of the trusted guides, many recipes I have seen are not suitable for canning for one reason or another. Use good judgement and only UADA recipes until you have a good knowledge about canning and processing times. Generally speaking most foods can be canned safely if you use the processing time for the ingredient that will require the longest processing time. This will broaden you recipes and give you courage to use your own. But first start with trusted recipes, there are plenty of them.

ball jars

Antique blue Ball jars to hold dry goods in

I Have Noticed

daisy and horses

I like to read several blogs every day. Some of them I must check first thing in the morning with my cup of coffee and a few I save until just before bed.  Sort of frosting on the cake at the end of the day.

Several of them have goals for this year listed not just personal goals but goals to acquire “stuff” to make their lives easier. Sort of a want list all very practical but stuff none the less.

This is well and good, as I have my own and fencing is one of them. What I see is that these items on the lists aren’t getting crossed off very fast this year. It’s peak gardening season for most of these blogs that I read the drip irrigation, plows, rakes, shovels are all still there on the want list. So are the things like the butter churns, grain mills, generators. Those who know are not spending money on anything it seems and I like to count myself in that category as well.

I have also noticed at our local yard sales that the price wanted for anything practical is very expensive some times more than if it were bought new. Right now I can buy a case of 12 Ball wide mouth pints with bands for $14.99 brand new at the stores. I have seen them several times in yard sales this summer for almost that much and there was no negotiation to be had. I have my sister and friends looking too with no luck.

lucky

Other things too I am searching for that I have put a price limit on with no luck there either. Clay pots, seed starting trays, sewing supplies like zippers, buttons and fabric, knitting needles…All could be found even last summer very reasonable, but not now.

Last summer I bough about 14 pair of needles for 10 cents a pair and promptly gave them all away because some one liked them. That’s just the way I am…

I wonder why? Is it because everyone knows the value now? Or because suddenly they are in demand, are more families going back to the old ways of home making? While I do hear of more doing this and the following on the blogs suggest this. I tend to think its the commercial marketing here in the US pushing the idea of simple living as a new fad.  A new twist on selling everything from toilet paper to plastic storage bags.

I don’t see the marketing telling everyone to cut back, but just the opposite, to buy their “whats-a-ding” because it will help them cut back and save money. The point being buy it not because you need it or will use it but because it’s a way to save money in the long run and spending right now will boost our economy.

The smaller things are a complete snow job in my opinion, I don’t need a new fangled exercises machine to save money at our gym. What I need is to not have either and get my exercise gardening, walking or taking free dance classes…anything other than that. That new machine that will collect dust in 6 weeks and end up at side of the road with a free take me sign on it next year.

I don’t need a new plastic bag vacuum system that looks like a cheap piece of you know what and the bags themselves cost more than double a regular zip top bag.

How about the new commercials from our favorite car companies, buy our car and if you loose your job in the next 12 months we will take the car back. WHAT! In my mind if you think you may loose your job in 12 months I wouldn’t be buying a new car period! How can having your new car taken back make loosing your job any easier? Then you won’t have a car at all, new or old.

Now this marketing has worked very well in our favor recently. I will start by saying we were not PLANNING on making such a large purchase but circumstances presented themselves and we took the opportunity. I am not suggesting to any one to take out a loan just because it’s a good deal intrest free or not. No, no, make due with what you have.

You might remember me mentioning a couple of months ago that our backhoe blew the motor in it. In looking around we discovered it would cost around $3,000 to repair it. Reality sunk in, that was a huge amount of money to be putting into a machine that was 20 something years old and showing signs of other problems on the horizon. Some that comes to mind are the $1,000 a piece tires it would need before winter set in this year. Then the hoses, and cutting edge. Well you get the point. We had braced ourselves to thinking this machine would sit in the yard unusable for quite awhile leaving a hole in our income.

We stopped at a local dealer just to kick the tires on a few machines, we had NO intention of buying one just seeing what was out their. Two days later I get a call from the dealer wanting to know how to get here, the driver was lost and map quest had let him down.

bee balm

The conversation was why I don’t know anything about a tractor delivery? Are you sure this is were you want to go and how do you know what my address is I didn’t even tell you what my name was?

In the end the tractor arrived in the yard, as it turns out the owner of the company did in fact already know Dick…HA no surprise there, Dick knows everyone it seems.

Well it stayed here for a few days and the guy called back, Dick how do you like the tractor? let me tell you I can give you a good deal for your machine, there is an interest free financing option going on now for 72 months…..BLA, BLA, BLA…..

Dick was like ya’ what ever, thanks for letting me clean my barn yard with your shinny new tractor….I on the other hand perked right up. Whoa! wait a second their Dickie…. This guy is offering you more for your backhoe than it’s worth with a good motor in it, it will cost you very soon big money to fix the current problem and the very near repairs it is going to need AND an interest free loan?

Yes, if you want the tractor we can go to our stash and pay cash for the thing but why not take him up on the offer, our money is better earning interest in our bank than in theirs. Not that the banks are paying good interest but it’s better than nothing. Yes there will be a monthly payment but should our needs change,  take the money and pay the thing off.

You have to replace either the backhoe or repair it, you can’t use it or work it the way it is…. I vote for a new tractor and let the expensive problems roll down the road into this guys yard. (Yes, we did tell the guy upfront about the motor.) It has a nice warranty on it should something break in the next 10 years.

So my dear readers here it is…

tractor

While we lost the capability to earn money with the backhoe part of the machine we gained the ability of a 3-point hitch. A neighbor and fellow Mason heard this news and came right over with a chocolate cake in hand his wife had made for us. :)(This is country living bribery at its best!) Dickie, love that new tractor, would you take over these mowing fields for me, BLA, BLA, BLA…. (Donna the cake was delicious and would you share your frosting recipe with me, please?)

To make a long story short, Dick has work for the new tractor coming out his ears or should I say mower….It didn’t take long for the word to get around and the phone is ringing off the hook. This due to the fact that Dick has worked in this area 50+ years people know him, his work and capabilities.

It is slower easier work for him and he just found himself back working for himself again. Geesh we just closed down all his business stuff, back to the books I will go…

One good ending to the marketing going on. Now how to convince these yard sale folks that their knitting needles really aren’t worth $6.00 a pair…or that their canning jars with the chipped rim isn’t worth $2.00 each….but I will take the whole box for $4.00… several are chipped, the bands are rusty and I can’t reuse those lids….No, no thank you I don’t need a feather-less chicken that hops on one leg at the farm. (It’s true I was offered one last weekend!)

How about you? Have you been able to take advantage of these lame marketing deals or have you found any that are good deals and actually help your family?

A Food Ladder

red peppers1The other day I received an email asking me to explain what I call the chain or ladder for the use of our food and not sending much to the compost bin or worse the trash.

I start by looking for the best, natural food our budget will allow. Certified organic is not always the option. Now-a-days organic is a label and used as a marketing tool to drive the prices of the food sky high in my opinion.

If I purchase food from producers that I know their farming methods and trust their judgement I don’t worry about it being certified. Most growers around here are pretty much organic to start with in that they don’t choose to use chemicals or artificial fertilizers ever. The use of a control spray for one reason or another is usually minimum, a natural alternative and done so under necessity.

I do my shopping from a list but our list is just items that are running low in our pantry. I do my meal planning around what is in the pantry and freezers. To me planning meals then shopping for special ingredients is counter productive. Our pantry is well stocked with the basic foods my family will eat. This allows me to shop the sales weekly or every two weeks. I generally don’t purchase any foods unless they are on sale. It’s that simple.

In my food budget I do have extra for sales I hadn’t planned on or if that is low I take money from another budgeted category such as clothing or crafting. That borrowed money will be replaced from the food budget when it is replenished at the beginning of the next month. It is a loan.

One example from this week might help you to understand my thinking a bit. This past week I was at the grocery and the woman told me to come back around 6 that night she was getting ready to pick through the produce and put them in the quick sale rack, it was the night before a new shipment came in (That is Sunday at this store). Since we were out this worked well for me that day. At 3pm those red peppers were $2.69 a pound, off the quick sale rack they were $.59 a pound. Does 3 hours make them unfit to eat, of course not. I looked them over and had another decision to make. Those peppers had been packaged on styro trays and were wrapped with plastic film…The decision is was that plastic and packaging worth the saving on the peppers. This time the answer was yes. I know my sister is saving the trays just now for a project to insulate her chicken coop. (That’s another whole story)

So I ended up with 8 pounds of red peppers for $4.72 that would have cost $21.52 earlier in the day. Sweet I thought to myself. I bought all that they had because I know peppers freeze well and we eat them fairly quickly.

A quick wash and processing and these lovely peppers went into the freezer. I cut some into slices for stir-fry, some diced and left some whole for stuffed peppers one night.

red peppers

Here comes the chain part….The tops I cut around the stem and added them to the bags of pepper dices. The stems and what little was left of the pepper were added to the bag of frozen bag of veggies for making soup stock. The seeds I set out for the chickens to pick over and later went out and put what they didn’t eat into the compost.

The other thing I could have done with those pepper seeds is freeze them and use them next time I make dog food. The chickens come first.

When I steam or boil veggies I will save and freeze the water and use that to make our dog’s food. It can also be used for the water added when making vegetable stock for stews. But I usually have enough for both.

It’s pretty simple really with a bit of though into other uses before tossing food into the trash or compost. My ladder for food is:

  • human
  • animals that produce food for us-chickens
  • animals that are non food producing-dog, cats & horses
  • compost

It doesn’t hurt to ask the grocery when their produce and meats go onto the quick sale rack and plan around that if you can. I know our grocery is Sunday night from fruit and veggies and Monday morning for their meats. So if I am shopping that week Monday morning would be a good time to go and make one trip.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 107 other followers

%d bloggers like this: