Practical Tips to Using Your Stockpile
Greetings from the HillTop!
Although it’s not been a ridiculously cold winter like expected thus far, winter still does not make me want to venture outside. Especially if it means venturing out to the grocery store. My family has been working on through a pantry challenge this month. With all the canning, freezing, and dehydrating our family does, we need to make sure that we utilize what we preserve so that we do not waste it.
I have been meal planning weekly, being sure to incorporate what is in our stores. It is forcing us to try new variations to our meals and get creative in how we are utilizing what we have. Our goal is to only spend between $100-200 each month, for January and February. If we can push it longer, all the better. That money allows us to buy milk, cheese, coffee (must have coffee), or anything else in the perishable realm.
If you are checked out my last blog Shopping From Your Own Pantry to Save Money – Part 1, you saw some of the easiest items to preserve for your pantry. With food costs going up, preserving food has been making a comeback. After the pandemic, the idea of stored food or a stocked pantry increased. While these are great practices, you still need to use the food, or it can go bad.
So, how do you do that?
What do you have in your pantry? Shopping from your own pantry requires you to have knowledge of what you have available. Some people keep a list of what they have stored. Personally, I simply just go look. My pantry, while stocked, is not overly large. I can simply see what is in it. When meal planning, or looking ahead for the week, simply look what you have available.
If something is not available, what can you substitute? This is a necessary question when utilizing your stores. You may run out of a certain vegetable, what else could you add in? No fresh garlic, how much powdered garlic could be used? Normally a meal uses chicken, could you substitute with beef or pork? The ability to be flexible helps you to use stocked items even when a recipe does not call for it.
If you had a prolific crop, do not serve it every night until it’s gone. Your family will not be pleased. We had an ample crop of beans the year before last. I tried to make sure they were only in rotation once a week. Otherwise I got complaints from the kids.
How can I use this? Look for new ways to utilize the item(s) you preserved. We had canned peaches we needed to utilize, and not everyone is my house eats canned peaches straight up. I started baking with them, peach muffins, peach pound cake, and peach bars. My daughter is not a fan of peaches, but baked goods with peaches she’s happy to eat.
How much should I preserve? Know your limits of how much you really need. I made this mistake this year with butternut squash. Our family likes butternut squash, and it stores really well. My seeds germinated really well, leaving me with extra plants, so I planted them. We had a BUMPER crop. I gave some away, and while we are using them, I think my chickens will get a good many too. Knowing how much to preserves takes time.
How can I use this? When I first started having garden extras to preserve, I preserved them anyway that seemed easy. That was not always the best. I needed to learn what would make them most valuable in our kitchen. Sometimes, one vegetable gets preserved in multiple ways. As our family grows, our needs and amounts change.
Gardening and preserving has become a large part of my life. As a stay-at-home mom, it is one of, if not, my largest financial contribution to my family. Therefore, not using what we grow, and preserve would be a waste of money and time. The tips above will help you use your stocked pantries. Using your stocked pantry will also help you save money, which is our goal!
Our pantry challenge has been going well. In three weeks, we have yet to repeat a meal and we are staying well within our budgeted amount. Our goal is to save between $500-600 between January and February. We have not determined what we are going to use that money on yet, but again, we are saving money as a family. This challenge has brought some entertainment with my son grading my nightly meals and lively family conversations about what vegetables mom hid in the meal.
While it may take time to get to this point, you can save money by ensuring that you utilize what you preserve. Make sure to drop a comment below on what your family favorite meal substitution is or your favorite preserved item is.