Monday, January 9, 2012

Now is the time for enjoying the food you put up for the winter

Runzas or Cabbage Pockets
  Were you busy like us this past fall- harvesting and preserving food from your garden? We were blessed to be able to get produce from our garden, honey from our bees, pick berries in the woods, buy 1/2 of a local grass fed beef, freeze some fish and chicken which we helped to butcher, glean a bunch of potatoes and buy a lot of local grain economically. Obviously we are pretty well stocked up with food!

   Even with our good amount of stocking up I can still struggle with the "What to make for supper?". I can have trouble thinking of anything to make that sounds good. It can sound very appealing to go to the grocery store and just buy something easy to fix. Something that is maybe a bit processed and partly made already.

    It can also be quite easy to get stuck in a rut in my cooking style. For example- I tend to use a lot of hamburger and cheese in my dishes. The hamburger we have quite a bit of right now but I realize now that I need to be careful with how much I use of it as we ran out over a month early (before the next beef was ready) last year. As far as the cheese is concerned- we don't raise it nor do we have an economical place to purchase it so I think it would be wise for me to use a little less. My goal is to cook with a little more variety.

  One of the very important tools for use what we have (before heading of to the store to purchase anything) is to menu plan. Before I menu plan I try to take stock of what we do have in our freezer, pantry and cupboards and as much as possible I try to create a menu using those items. When you plan ahead it is not nearly so hard to work with the unprocessed ingredients.

 My tips (besides Menu planning, which is the biggest help in my opinion) for using what you have on hand are:
  • Browse cookbooks for ideas. I recommend looking at cookbooks that focus on whole foods (like Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living) or look at Ethnic Cookbooks. The normal modern American cookbook uses a lot of already processed foods so that doesn't help me a lot in using up the bounty from my garden.
  • Don't be afraid to create your own recipes. If you have cooked for a while just think back to things you like and then don't be afraid to make adjust the idea according to what you have on hand. We have had some pretty yummy meals using these principles.
  • Don't be afraid to substitute things in recipes. If you don't have what is asked for see if you can either do without it or use something that you do have.
  • Adjust your ideas of what you like and need. We enjoy having a variety of fresh fruit but this winter we have been trying to focus more on using the apples, applesauce and berries that we have on hand.
Here is our menu for this week:

~Apple Coffee Cake and Yogurt
~Raspberry Pancakes
~Scrambled Eggs and Toast
~Hash browns and Eggs
~French Toast
~Pumpkin Muffins

Main Meal (For lunch we generally eat leftovers and I try to make enough so that we have them):
~Ham and Bean Soup and Cornbread
~Tandoori Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Fruit Salad
~Creole Cheese Potato Puffs, Little Hamburgers and Salad
~Chicken Jambalaya and Broccoli
~Hamburger Rolls and Corn
~Teriyaki Steak, Green Beans and Fried Potatoes

I do need to buy butter this week as well as maybe some milk and eggs but otherwise I think we won't need to do any shopping. Our normal food budget is $360 a month but I am hoping I can keep it down to $250 this month. Shopping under budget for much of the year allows us to be able to buy beef at the end of the year.

Do you have any tips for using the stuff that you put up for winter rather than going out and buying other food?

I am linking up to:
Good Cheap Eats' Pantry Challenge
Homestead Revival's Homestead Barn Hop
Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday


Netta said...

Wow! Your freezer & pantry are so impressive! I agree with you on "substitute," and "create your own recipes." My family laughs that I never make the same recipe twice cuz if there's something around that needs to used up then it's going to be added to the recipe.
Happy New Year!
(If found you from Menu Plan Monday on OrgJunkie)

JoannaTopazT said...

Sounds like we are on the same page. I just wrote in my Menu Plan Monday post about eating down the pantry/freezer, and I created tonight's Corn Chowder (in the crockpot) meal by combining recipes from a couple of different cookbooks -- and using the last of the CSA potatoes.

Angela said...

I agree, your pantry is impressive. I'm not a canner, but I always admire those who do. My mother-in-law sometimes passes along her canned pickled beets, which I love.

I'm working on menu planning as one of my goals for the Pantry Challenge!

Melissa said...

My latest cool discovery which is definitely going to inform how I plant my garden this year is that you can use pumpkin or squash puree in tomato based dishes a lot like a thickener. I like to add tomato paste to all my dishes (to thicken them and to jack up the tomato taste) but now - ooh - look out now.

Momma Marketer said...

I love seeing pictures of other people's pantries. Especially ones with lots of home-canned things in them, I just think the jars are so pretty.
I'm also focusing on using up what is in the pantry this month, I cleaned ours yesterday and would up throwing out quite a few things that had expired. I really dislike wasting food that way.

Christy said...

This was the first year I have canned and I am struggling to use all my beautiful, hard work cans of goodness. I am afraid I will run out - silly I know. I just don't want to run out! You are right - now is the time use it!


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