There’s very few of our day-to-day bills we control. The price for electric, phone, the mortgage, fuel, etc. are set by others. We can control how much we use/buy, but not the price paid per unit. We are responsible for our frivolous spending and the food budget, which is why I think most people start trying to control their finances with the food budget.
Given these possibilities:
- 1) We may not have $ available at some point in the future, or very little.
- 2) We don’t have sufficient land to raise enough to support us, even if we clear cut, raised chickens, etc. It would be nearly impossible to grow/produce enough food here to feel us year round.
I came to this uncomfortable truth:
- 3) I need to get our bills/debt down and make as much $ as I can ASAP.
One way I intend to do this is to lower our dependence on supermarkets.
Two main ideas/facts occurred to me.
The first and easiest step is to reduce the amount of waste. Did you know Americans throw out about 40% of the food they buy? [Want to save a large chunk of your food bill? Stop throwing food away.]
The second was to reduce the most expensive foods we buy. Seems obvious, right? But it isn’t meat, chocolate, or even coffee! Frequently, per pound, the most expensive stuff we buy are spices and/or condiments. I can grow or make many of these cheaper than I can buy them at the supermarket.
So I’ve grown more herbs & spices this year. The tarragon, oregano, chives, thymes, parsley, mints, and argula were successful. The basil had problems I don’t understand, the cilantro did so-so, as did the lemon balm, sage, and dill.
Chamomile was a flop, I’ll try it as a house plant. It was spindly, produced few flowers, then died. The stevia did well enough that I’ll bring it indoors as a houseplant this winter. We’ll see how it likes it indoors!
The lemon verbena became a BUSH, a wonderful surprise for an herb I’ve always sort of nurtured along and gotten very little. It will be mulched deep with the sincere hope that it will overwinter successfully and come back next year.
I’ve been drying herbs all summer, so I won’t buy parsley, basil, oregano, sage. That’s a win. The house pot pourri, which I’ve always made from whatever we had is strongly lemon this year: lemon thyme, lemon verbena, spearmint, lemon balm. Our sheets will smell yummy!
The condiments I haven’t done so well with. I haven’t made anything like the chutneys, jams (well I did, but we ate it), etc. that we will use year round. And frankly, I don’t have the patience for large-batch food processing. I get tired of standing in my kitchen, my feet hurt, and I stop being careful.
So the next piece is to put food aside monthly: can, freeze or dehydrate in small batches, year ’round. I have a monthly “in season” list for produce, meats, cheeses, etc. I have recipes in a data base by when their main ingredients (or most of them) are in season. I just haven’t put the two pieces together.
I need to.
I have a watermelon I bought to make jam with 2 weeks ago that needs to be used before it becomes compost! That will do both things: reduce my food waste & put a condiment aside for winter. Can’t you imagine how yummy watermelon jam will taste in December when it’s bleak and snowy outside?
Do you have money-saving strategies? I’d love to hear about them!