Storing food well = cooking cheap

Why do I rattle on about storage the way I do? Is it because secretly I’m a survivalist waiting for armageddon to get out my stash of machine guns and rampage through downtown New York saving my friends?

No, though that would make a cool movie.

The reason is because stored food = money saved. Americans visit the grocery store several times a week, and yet they eat tons of canned and frozen expensive food. They also eat a ton of takeout.

You can cook more cheaply – but only if you can stock up on basics. And for cooks who only cook for one or maybe two – which has been me my entire life – it’s hard to stock up on basics and go through them quickly enough to justify buying them. I had friends who bought a fifty-pound bag of rice once to save money. By the time they got to the end the rice was pretty stale. (Yes, even dry rice eventually goes stale.) Not only was it not particularly appealing to eat, it’s not really good for your body to process those too-old foods.

So storage to me is the tightrope we all walk. We need to buy when tomatoes are on sale – but not when frozen dinners are. And we need to use up the food, pretty much within the year, when we do get it. (Canned foods last longer but frozen foods don’t last as long – a surprise to many people who think a freezer is a stasis machine and that foods put in there last forever. Nuh uh.)

I’m on this dehydrating kick because it allows me to store fruit and veggies cheaply and easily and without much power usage. But the impetus was simple: I got more veggies each year than I could use, and if I could save them, I would save money into the winter on my food budget by eating food I’d already GOTTEN earlier in the year but hadn’t yet eaten.

This required me to clean out a corner of my house for some shelving for storage, and spend $26 on jars at the hardware store. (Glass stores better than plastic for long-term stuff, and it’s way cheap.) That’s not that undoable. I’m hoping to cut my food budget in the winter by quite a bit, and eat local cheap produce on top of it.

Storing food AND THEN EATING IT is my goal.

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