Since Sarah Polk, wife of President James K. Polk, hosted the first traditional White House Thanksgiving dinner featuring a turkey, the turkey has remained as the symbol of our Thanksgiving celebration. Once put forward as our national bird (somehow just wouldn’t be quite the same as an eagle), the humble turkey began in this country as a wild bird is now the main star of holiday dinners. The average American consumes 14.7 pounds of turkey per day, with some attempting to eat their quota on Thanksgiving Day.Read More
What? How can there be after-holiday sales now? Quite simple, my Frugal Friends: Halloween has become one of America’s biggest spending holidays which means that retailers load up on all sorts of Halloween merchandise that goes well beyond costumes for the wee ones. The merchandise extends throughout the store and if you shop smartly this week, you are likely to snag great deals on all sorts of items that will help you be better prepared, more organized, stock your pantry and have money left in your pocket!Read More
The pumpkins are being carved and right next to the row of Halloween costumes are Christmas ornaments! Yes, it is that time of the year when budgets, bodies and emotions can all come crashing down from the weight of Holiday-mania! Preparing ahead (a recurring theme here), a bit of planning and a good dose of self-control can yield a holiday season with more happy memories than post-holiday mania. Try these time, energy, emotion and money saving tips this year!Read More
⋄ Provident Living Pointer ⋄
The warm casserole, a colorful salad and a loaf of homemade bread all delivered by loving hands—do you see it in your mind’s eye?
The preparation of meals for others seems to be interwoven with our role as women and as compassionate human beings. All of us have most likely either prepared or received a meal in a time of crisis, after a new baby or during a move. To do so expresses our concern for others and often fulfills an immediate need. With food and fuel prices rapidly rising, it is wise to think about how we can fulfill these warm-hearted desires in a more economical manner. To that end, I present to you…Read More
In today’s culinary world of fast-food, prepared foods, ‘take it and make it’ nearly prepared foods and the explosion in frozen dinners, it is easy to become totally reliant on food that is prepared by others. Not only are prepared and restaurant meals higher in sodium, fat, sugar and calories, they are a steady drain on your budget. In an age when we are seeing grocery bills climb daily, it is not only frugal but nearly mandatory to re-examine the cost vs. benefit of the way many of us prepare our meals. And as our economy declines, we may all be faced to return to the ways of our mothers and learn to cook!
Researchers at Arizona State University compared the hourly rate we as consumers are affectively paying for many ‘convenience’ food. They purchased food in the non-shredded, cubed, etc. form and then calculated how long it took to prepare the food into its ‘convenient’ state. This calculation was then translated into an hourly wage that you, the consumer, are paying someone else to perform a simple task. For instance, shredded cheese costs you over $49 an hour as vs. buying a block of cheese and shredding it yourself. Cheese sticks? More than $43 an hour! In addition to paying someone else an exorbitant rate for a simplistic task, these ‘conveniences’ usually utilize the lowest possible grade of the product, then add coatings, inhibitors and other ingredients to extend their life and usability. The researchers also found that many ‘convenience’ foods such as pre-chopped, frozen, throw in the pan entrees save very little time (as little as 10 minute), while adding tremendously to the over-abundance of sodium, fat and sugars.
Even if you are willing to trade dollars and health concerns for the ‘value’ of convenience, you should still acquire the ability to easily prepare a wide variety of foods that result in a nutritious, wholesome and affordable meal for yourself and your family. Many adults today are lacking in these basic skills and that lack of education hampers one’s ability to not only live providently but to survive a wide variety of emergencies.
If you fall into the ‘heat and toss’ category, consider beginning now to learn the fine art of food preparation. You need not achieve the status of gourmet cook, but simply learn how to easily and economically prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner from fresh ingredients. At least once a week, prepare each of these meals using no pre-packaged/half-prepared foods, raw ingredients including a variety of meats and vegetables, a carbohydrate such as rice, potatoes or pasta, and fruit. In a huge hurry? Scrambled eggs, toast and fresh fruit should take no more than 10 minutes to prepare and serve. No time to clean up? Use a nonstick pan that is dishwasher safe and paper plates. You will be eating a meal that is nutritious (more so if you omit some of the yolks), cheap, fast and much healthier for you than a trip through the drive thru! If you are running out the door, slap the eggs on the bread (or a tortilla), wrap it in foil and eat as you walk to the car.
Don’t have a clue what to cook or how to cook it? Check out your local library for standard cookbooks such as The Joy of Cooking, which teaches everything from how to boil an egg to making creme brulee. The editions published during WWII include dealing with limited quantities of common items such as meat, flour and sugar. Some of their recipes, tips, techniques are available online at www.thejoykitchen.com.
Your first attempts at true ‘from scratch’ cooking may seem cumbersome and frustrating. Cooking, like any skill, requires practice and repetition to achieve ease and consistency. Keep trying, keep experimenting and don’t hesitate to ask for advice!
For experienced cooks, refresh your skills in a new area. Try cooking with food storage items, making your own yogurt or cooking meatless for a week.
Any skill you develop that provides your family with more economical, health-conscious food is one to treasure!Read More
One of the first steps in establishing a Prepared Pantry is to gather together and maintain at least a 30-day supply of food. This 30-day supply should include 2 weeks of food that you could eat with little or no cooking. If you have a 30-day, work to extend it to a 3 month supply of foods you normally eat. No matter which goal you are working to achieve, the basic guidelines of smart shopping, wise storage and rotation will all apply.
First, you should store foods that are ‘shelf stable’, which means that they do not require refrigeration until opened, have a fairly long shelf life and are not terribly temperamental about moderate changes in temperature. Though most foods store best away from direct sunlight and in temperatures less than 75 degrees, many shelf stable foods are not as finicky, at least in the short run. It is never a good idea to invest money in food that will only spoil before you can eat it! When purchasing food, be certain to check the expiration dates. While some foods, such as dry beans, have a stable shelf life, ‘sale’ items and discount stores often sell product that is closer to the expiration date. Most shelf stable foods are still edible beyond their expiration date, but lose quality, flavor and sometimes nutrition.
Some ideas of foods that store for at least three months (most store for a year) include: (items in italics could be included in your 2 week supply)
- Canned/bottled goods—protect from freezing and extreme heat– soups, fruits, vegetables, stews, chili, meats, beans, juice, canned milk, vanilla and other extracts, broth and soup stock, oil, vinegar (less fragile with regards to temperature), salad dressing, pickles, ketchup, mustard, peanut butter, jelly & jams, honey, icing, shortening, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, prepared spaghetti sauce
Dry goods—rice, flour, baking soda, baking powder, pancake mixes, cake mixes, misc. baking mixes, powdered milk, yeast, salt and seasonings, oatmeal, cereal, sugars (white, brown, powdered), candy, chocolate chips, pasta, macaroni and cheese type ‘dinners’, dry soup mixes, ramen noodles, jello, pudding mixes, gravy and other mixes, taco shells, parmesan cheese, baby formula (every family with an infant should store at least one can, even if baby is breastfed), instant breakfast mixes, granola bars, pretzels, some tortilla chips, some crackers including graham crackers, some cookies, egg powder, artificial sweeteners
Freezer—meats–cooked and raw, cheese, most baked goods, vegetables, fruits, ice cream – nearly anything you can freeze has at least a three month life. The one exception may be fresh crab meat.
You can calculate a 30-day supply by simply preparing menus of simple foods for 3 meals a day x 30 days, listing every ingredient. Do not forget to calculate that in many types of emergencies you may not have electricity and you may be eating all of your meals at home. Now, make a master shopping list and you are ready to shop! With that master list, you can watch for sales, take advantage of markdowns and end up saving money!
A good guideline to follow for a 30-day supply for two average adults should include:
- 10 lbs of rice
10 lbs of pasta
10 lbs of oats
9 lb of fresh meat for freezer
10 lb of canned meat
10 cans of tomato sauce
or spaghetti sauce
10 cans of fruit
10 lbs of sugar or honey
1 bottle of vanilla extract
5 lb of dried beans or 10lb of canned beans (mix & matching is good)
1 lb of salt–salt is cheap & can be used for many things, so stock up even more
2 lbs of peanut butter
1 box pancake mix
5 lb of flour
1 jar of yeast
10 cans of soup or stew or chili
15 cans of vegetables
1 bottle pancake syrup
2 lb of powdered milk
1 lb of baking powder
1 lb of baking soda
1/2 gallon of cooking oil or shortening
1 large jar jelly or jam
1 lb parmesan cheese or other shelf stable cheese (or cheese in freezer)
1 lb crackers
2 lb raisins or other dried fruit
10 cans of tuna or other canned meat
cinnamon and other spices
1 jar mayonnaise
As always, plan according to your family’s needs, tastes, health concerns and budget!Read More