Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hitting The Pantry

Since early summer our grocery budget has been close to nothing.  At first this was quite depressing to me.  Every evening as dinner approached I would stare in my pantry like I was utterly lost....which I was.  Meals came together by prayer alone.

I had no idea how to make my 'stored goods' into 'edible meals.'

Do you?????

I learned some really important things, about myself, food storage, and the providence of the lord during this time.

At first, of course, I still made meals I was very familiar with.  Breakfast consisted of oatmeal or eggs.  Lunch and dinner was spaghetti, stir fry, burritos, chili or baked chicken.

But it wasn't long before.... There were no more oats, no more tortillas, no more canned tomatoes or sauce, no more chicken.  The hens stopped laying due to stress from raccoons.  The garden did not produce much of anything.

I learned to make new meals, (recipes below).  My family learned to be thankful for a warm, filling, simple meal instead of processed, store bought, preservative filled 'foods.'

Then a dear neighbor began providing my family with milk!  This was a huge blessing to us with our growing kiddoes.  When we had excess, we tried our hand at farm cheese.  It was a wonderful addition to our meals.

I also began to glean.  In my local area we have a great online tool, Freecycle.  I was able to ask this local email group for unwanted fruits and veggies as the harvest season was coming to an end.  I was able to get local apples from several different neighbors.  And a large quantity of zucchini was added to our pantry.

I learned a few years ago that zucchini lasts several months in storage as long as the skin is undamaged.  So I did not hesitate to take as much zucchini as was offered.  Besides, we LOVE zucchini!

Due to the timing of my pregnancy I missed my opportunity to glean local pumpkins and walnuts which were also available.

My mother in law hosted thanksgiving and gave us the left over turkey and carcass.  We were able to get many quarts of rich, thick broth canned from this.

When some grocery money was finally available my attitude towards shopping had changed drastically.  Our diet has changed drastically. But I think we are moving in the right direction.  Our meals are now more 'sustainable,' made from ingredients we can grow ourselves or get locally.  And we are so much less dependent on grocery stores.

While many families use 'meal planning' to make their grocery lists, I simply reassessed my food storage.  What had we used up, and what did we need to maintain our nutritious and simple meals?

Here are some recipes that we have learned to enjoy and now rely on.

Cream of Wheat
  Grind wheat berries until desired consistency.  I like little chunks, but my kids liked it smoother. Mix into 2 parts boiling milk and bring back to a boil until it is the desired thickness.  As it cools it will thicken more.  Season with desired spices and sweetener.

Sauteed Zucchini With Rice
  Saute zucchini slices in butter.  Add tomatoes if desired.  Add salt and pepper.  Serve with prepared rice.

Soup Du'jour
  Saute one chopped onion in butter or other fat.  Add broth and/or water.  Add any desired vegetables and meat.  Add salt and pepper.  Most days I used potatoes as a base.  My husband also liked additional onions added at the end as well because he liked them crunchy.  You can also add rice or noodles.  Think 'THICK.'

Quick Rolls
  Mix 2tbsp yeast, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup oil, and 1 1/4 cups hot water. Let rest 15 mins.  Add 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 3-4 cups flour.  Knead.  Form 12-15 balls as and place in greased pan.  Bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  This dough make delicious cinnamon rolls if you have sugar and cinnamon.

I am now planting some herb and lettuce seeds in the hope of having a little indoor, winter garden. I eagerly look forward to next years growing season.

In conclusion, I am grateful for this opportunity to learn to feed my family without depending on the grocery store.  Consider your habits and supplies now, while you can.  Consider how you will feed and care for yourself and loved ones, in the event that the grocery store is simply not an option.

You will be glad you did.

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