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We all have urgencies when it comes to food. We think about price and nutrition, flavor and environmental costs. Most of us are concerned with the impact of our food choices on our local economies and, if you are reading this blog, you are also aware of the need to prepare for the future with a deep pantry. This leads to questions about how to store food for a time when it might be difficult to make purchases in the customary way. These urgencies makes planning how we shop far more complicated than simply picking up a grocery circular and making out a shopping list.

Yesterday, our pigs went to freezer camp. They have one bad day in their life and yesterday was it. We pick the meat up on Wednesday, some ready to be brined and smoked, some destined for our home freezer and some ready to be canned. A good deal will be moved on. Our pork is traded for free-range chicken and grass-fed beef. We gift some to our kids. Most will feed us through the long, dark winter and right through until next fall when the cycle starts over. I spent the morning canning apple cider so as to free up space in the freezer. The canned juice isn’t as good as the fresh cider but we don’t always get what we want.

I’m putting in a bulk order this afternoon. I need nuts, cinnamon and more canning jar lids. These are all things much less expensive when bought in bulk and there is a dramatic reduction in packaging. Later, I will spend some time on menu planning. One of the most responsible things we can do with food is to address waste. Careful planning does that. Roasted chicken on Monday is a chicken stir-fry on Tuesday and chicken soup on Wednesday. In between, bits of meat are added to noodles and leftover vegetables for lunches. This works because meat plays a supporting role in our meals. We eat less of it, filling in with extras like home-canned pickles and fruit, bread and lots of potatoes.

We didn’t learn to eat this way overnight. It was a process and there is still a learning curve. Recently, I got together with a small group of friends to exchange information on the most frugal ways to get food. We often shop together and put together a Facebook messaging group for contacting each other if we find a deal. We can split a case of toothpaste or a large box of dried fruit. Recently, we bought potatoes and got a group price on seconds. We just found a great deal on EverCrisp apples and by buying as a group made out even better as the orchard was delighted to get rid of so many at once.

I look forward to hearing from my readers. I want to know what you’re cooking and preserving and how you are saving time and money. What are you doing that’s fun and interesting and worthwhile?

I debated about posting the photo above. We all want to put our best face out there and obviously, my basement food storage isn’t “pretty”. But I want to be honest with my followers. I’m not perfect and neither is my storage. I work with what I have and what I have is a rather dark, musty basement. This is it, in all of its cobwebbed glory.

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