Last week I posted about the rising food costs and how we are changing some things to avoid a rising food budget crisis. While not all of us can have huge gardens, a milk cow or goat, chickens, pigs and such, there is always more that we can do to cut costs. Sometimes it takes more time on our parts, more time spent in the kitchen baking, canning produce you buy from a local produce stand or any number of other things.
For me, spending time in the kitchen is something that I love to do. Making bread is not a chore for me, baking cookies, canning peaches or making tortillas. Sure, it's work, but I'm not one that is turned off by a bit of effort to save some money to trim our budget. There are some things that I make that don't even save me much money, but it's worth it just to avoid buying what someone else has made...and the added items that ALWAYS end up in my grocery cart while picking up those items. Doesn't that just drive you nuts? You go to the store for milk and bread and end up spending twice as much on things you "forgot" you needed. In reality, MOST of those "needed" items are not really needed at all. You could easily do without them.
One thing that I thought about in reading comments left on my last blog entry about this subject was that not everyone CAN grow everything. I know I can't. Tomatoes are a favorite here, but something that I have struggled to get to grow well here. This year, I'm going to try a few "tips" I have read about, but I'm not going to count on growing enough to provide us with our needed total for the year. This is something that I watch for at local farms and produce stands. Even canning tomatoes that I've purchased from someone else is better than relying on an unsteady market to always have them on hand. Honestly, if I didn't can them myself, I'd be stocking up on canned organic tomatoes somewhere else...like Costco or where ever I could find the best price. Buying in bulk is what keeps me from having to shop all that often.
Network with local farmers, or others that are able to grow what you can't. Find a neighbor that has chickens, trade with them or buy eggs from them. Raise a few broilers for your freezer, or find someone that does...worst case, buy in bulk when chicken goes on sale. The key is to look at what you CAN do and work with that. For my family, I don't want the GMO food, the poorly raised meat full of hormones and the fillers that they feed the animals. So, we choose to raise most of our own...often at no better price than I could get on sale, but much better product for our time and money. I like knowing where my food comes from and NOT supporting a food industry that likes to play God...or feels that they know best what is "good" food.
I could easily go on and on about what you "could" do, or what we do here. Everyone has to work with what they have, make choices based on preference, limitation and availability in your area. The key is that you CAN do something, even if it's just a few things here and there. Not everyone can be self sufficient in their food needs, but for my family, that is a goal. My encouragement is to do what you can do. Trust in the Lord for what you can't...He's never let us down...we have always been provided for. We just feel that there is always more that we can do to be better stewards of what the Lord has blessed us with!
If you are feeling lost as to where to start, you know you need to cut back on spending, you can't grow a huge garden, can't raise a cow or a pig...start by looking at what you buy now. Can you make your own bread? What about skipping the frozen dinners? Make more of your meals from raw ingredients, not prepackaged mixes and such. I have found that many of the products I thought I needed....BBQ sauce, syrup, pancake mixes, bread, buns, tortillas, even chocolate syrup....can be made at home from things I already had in my pantry! Start by looking at what pre-made foods you buy now and try to find alternatives. It doesn't take a total change in every area of your menu, but most of what you "think" you can't make is easily made from scratch with ingredients you already have on hand. Sure, it may take a bit more time, but planning can help solve much of that problem. I'll be trying to share many of my family's favorite recipes, things that I make all the time that help me avoid the grocery store. If you are looking for something specific...leave me a comment and I'll see what I can find. :)
We are all in this together...and many hands (or minds) can often make light work in a tough situation!