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.


Posted on July 14, 2009, in Food Storage, House Budgets and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thank you for the lovely visit today Karyn. Can’t wait for you and Daisy to see Howling Hill!

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