Friday, December 19, 2014

Preserving Fresh Foods On A Budget

We all know that locally grown food is best for us, in so many ways.  I know that there have been many times have I fallen back on what is convenient, but not always what is best for my family.

As my family and I continue on the road to healthy eating, I have collected a few ideas.  Some of them we have tried, and others I have read or overheard at the Farmer's Market.  

1. Buy a bread maker.

Or you might be able to borrow that one from your friend that sits on a shelf collecting dust.

As I am writing this I can smell the honey whole wheat bread that baked while I was sleeping.
I dump the ingredients in before I go to bed and hit Start.  We wake up to the smell and taste of fresh homemade bread!  You can also use the bread maker to make jam.  It comes with a really nice recipe book.  There are also tons of recipes on Pinterest.  We have a KitchenAid Convection Bread maker.
My aunt gave it to us, and it has been a huge blessing.

2. Buy fresh produce.

Buying locally grown food does not have to be expensive!  Last Saturday I purchased: 13 ears of corn, 2 tomatoes, 5 zucchini, and a ton of green beans for $14.90, at a local market.

Maybe you like the idea of buying local, but you don't have $14.90.  Maybe you want to put back some healthy food for your family, but you don't see how you can buy fresh and pay the electric bill.

Have you tried:

* Bartering

Find a friend, neighbor, family member, that is growing something you would like to have.  For example you might have a knack for sewing.  Offer your talent or ability in exchange for the food.
You say, "I will whip up the curtains for you in exchange for some of your lovely tomatoes!"

Or maybe you just stocked your freezer with a side of beef.  You have a ton of hamburger, but no money left over for other good food.  Offer some of your hamburger for some of their produce.  You get the idea. Be creative, and just ask :)

* Farmers Markets

Go to the grower and ask them what they do with the food they don't sell at the market.  Ask if they would be willing to sell the remaining amount to you, at a discount price  Farmer's Markets are a great way to build relationships with others that are interested in a lot of the same things you are!

You can also get really wonderful baked goods, local honey, handmade soaps and lotions and so much more.

* Craigslist, Newspapers, etc.

Keep an eye out for locals selling their produce.  Often times gardeners are faced with a surplus, and they will sell it cheap, or give it away.  This is a good place to keep a lookout for free plants, as well.
We were able to get flats of free seedlings this Spring.  My husband saw the ad in the classifieds.

Two summers ago a local church had an ad in the newspaper.  Every Saturday they had tables set up of free produce for anyone!  Just show up!

* Keep A Look Out

Ever drive by a house or farm that have fruit trees brimming with fruit, and the next time you drive by it has all fallen to the ground neglected?  Walk on up to their front door, and politely ask if they aren't enjoying the fruit of their trees, can you?  It may just be a matter of the owner not having time to mess with it.  You could even offer to pick it and then split it with them.

Well now that your counters are brimming with all of your fresh produce, the odds you will be able to eat it all before it goes bad, are slim.  Letting it rot, not an option, especially after all the hard work to acquire it.  But, just like everything, preserving food can be expensive.  Here are a few ways to save money:

1. Just ask.

The odds of someone you know having canning jars, a water canner or a dehydrator are pretty good. It might be tucked away in the attic, but remember this kind of thing was done often for generations past.

Moms, Grandmas and Aunts can have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to food preservation.  They often times have all the tools, too.  I think unfortunately we bypass this treasure trove of information for something more glitzy.  But, you can't beat the knowledge of someone who lived through the great depression when it comes to stretching the family meal!

2. Thrift Stores, Garage Sales, Craigslist

One persons junk is another persons treasure.  Take advantage of it.

3. Look around your own house.

You can air dry herbs yourself or dehydrate fruits and vegetables in your oven.  I have even put some things out on the porch on really hot days to dehydrate.  Freezing can be a quick and easy method of preserving!

Running to the store and putting cans and boxes in your cart, can seem like the only option.  But, you can't beat scooping up a hand full of fresh berries and popping them in your mouth, or passing out fresh carrots to the Littles for a snack.

What ways do you put fresh food on your table? 


  1. Hi Channon! I'm visiting from JES's link up :) Thank you so much for sharing these helpful tips. I hope you have a beautiful week!

    Hugs and blessings!

  2. This is 'move' week for us, but just packed 15#'s frozen raspberries in the cooler for a 1 hour trip. Will make jam's and things for Christmas gifts. You bet we'll plant more bushes next spring! Love the Tipnut link. So many good ideas there. Meeting you through Linkup Monday's....Deedy

    1. Raspberry jam, yum. I love the fact that you packed them and took them with you. You will have such joy passing out your Christmas gifts :) Thank you for stopping by!

  3. Very useful list! Your ideas are great! Another thought would be to offer to barter some canned product for some of the fruit off the trees. Our neighbor has tons of lemon trees which they share with us. We return the gratitude with canned marmalade. Every year they bring us fruit now :) Please join us again next week on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

  4. Thank you, JES! I bet that would be delicious, and so fresh. Great idea :)