Using Your Harvest Through the Winter

Hello from our chilly HillTop!

This winter has been interesting so far, we already have had more snow this year than last year. While currently we are in snap without snow, the chill in the air is worse than six inches of snow.

Between the cold weather, shut-downs (we live in Pennsylvania and still are having varying degrees of pandemic shut-downs), and homeschooling the simple act of running to the grocery store is a thing of the past. Trying to arrange time to head to the store around Google Meets seems like it’d be easy, but with a round trip of thirty minutes and having two kids in tow, it seems harder to work it in during the day.

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you know we have been attempting to live a bit more self sufficient life these past few years. This past year, during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was wonderful to already being doing the things we were and made life so much easier.

We were able to store more food and utilize the grocery stores less this year than any other year.

Now that we are in the heart of winter, with no doubt more snow at some point, I am working through my stores of food from this past year’s harvest. Some preppers and food hoarders are saying, “What? Why? No!!! That is for an emergency!!”

Here is the thing, the food is meant to be utilized and enjoyed. We grew it to not need to rely as much on the grocery store and we are doing just that. There are benefits to using these items beyond the grocery store for you to consider incorporating more of them.

My husband and I went to a wonderful U-Pic and got so much for $40! We made applesauce and concord grape jelly for our family to enjoy. Plus, we ate fresh fruit we picked only days before. Last, the pears we got were cold storage. We had wonderful local fruit for weeks.

Looking for New Recipes

Currently, utilizing the stores of food we have is encouraging us to look for new recipes. For example, these past few years we have been canning peaches. Most of the time we simply just eat the peaches, but thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest, we are finding recipes that specifically incorporate canned peaches for muffins.

This little bit of new can easily add a new favorite into my meal listing.

Less Waste

How many of us go into growing our own food and in the beginning preserve food one way or another, with us wasting some of it? This is not just something that happens with preserving food, this happens simply when going to the grocery store. You throw food out that’s gone bad, you wonder how long that item has been in the freezer, or you open it for one recipe and never use the remaining amount.

Going to the grocery store routinely (each week or otherwise) puts us in the habit of buying the same food (whether we need it or we don’t) and typically we end up wasting. Last year, Forbes claimed “that the average U.S. household wasted 31.9% of its food.” That works out to over $1,800 a year the article stated, per household. I don’t know about your family, but I personally would rather have that $2,000.

Allowing myself less visits to the grocery store enables less waste. We eat what we have. Again, thanks to sites like Pinterest, we look for recipes that uses more of the item we bought of a single recipe.

My Children are Open to New Foods

I cannot make this claim for everyone, but it is true in my household. My kids know that regardless of what I make for dinner, they do not get an alternative. I make one meal for the family. This year I had a decent crop of butternut squash (which I love). I found a recipe (shared in Beauty of a Simple Meal) and it has become one of our new favorites. Since introducing the kids to a meal they enjoyed butternut squash in, they have had it in several other new recipes and continue to enjoy it! My daughter claims it is one of her favorite vegetables now.

All Around Healthier Meals

Like anyone else, when we preserve our food, we always have one or two vegetables that are our standout producers. Normally, that happens with tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini or another form of squash. We will make what we can, but with zucchini we freeze a lot of it. Beyond winter zucchini bread, what else do you do with it?

We find places to pump up the nutrition. For example we will add it into pastas, casseroles or meatloaves or anything else we can think of. Do not get me wrong, we add it to plenty of breads too, but that little extra helps to add a little more nutritional value.

By utilizing what we have we tend to save more money. Not only because we are using what we already bought, but we are buying less. That allows us to save our money for other areas.

We have found benefits to shopping less frequently and making sure we utilize all that we grew, preserve and buy when we do go grocery shopping. Consider cutting out one of your shopping trips this month and see how you can plan to work around it with some creative planning.

If you do not think you are ready for that, consider planting a garden this summer and trying it when you have excess food in your backyard growing. You will be amazed at how many benefits you will find.

3 thoughts on “Using Your Harvest Through the Winter

  1. carolee says:

    Sound thinking and good advice! This is the time of year that I begin taking inventory of the pantry and freezer in order to make good decisions of what to grow. For instance, in 2019 the bean harvest was so abundant the cans filled the shelves, so I ordered only our favorite seed and grew just enough beans to use fresh during the 2020 growing season, not canning any. That garden space normally used for beans grew more carrots and onions, which we’d run out of that year. This year the tomatoes went bonkers, and I have bags and bags of oven-roasted grape & cherry tomatoes in the freezer. Now I’m searching for new recipes, some of which have been super!

    Liked by 1 person

    • hilltop372 says:

      Thank you! Your food stores require planning, both in meals/grocery shopping, plus your garden layout. We had our largest harvest this year, but with two growing kids, I still don’t think it’s enough.


      • carolee says:

        I remember those days, feeding teens! It’s much easier now, just feeding two aging adults, and especially this year, with no entertaining at all! I was glad for all the surplus to give away to needing friends.

        Liked by 1 person

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