Going Back to Basics

Hi everyone! Sorry for not posting recently. It has been a week filled with family emergencies, unfortunately. LD, Tasha, and I are ok. Just busy with family.

Anyway, in between all of the craziness, LD and I have started a new home campaign. We are trying to remove as many convenience items from our kitchen as possible and replace them with items we have made ourselves. Essentially, we are making our own pantry. It is amazing how much a little work can save you in terms of money.

Did you know that you can get dry beans, cook them, drain them, and then they last in your freezer for up to a year? A pound of dry beans costs just over a dollar at Target and then take a little over an hour to cook. The cooking isn’t even hands on time. Just stir every ten minutes or so! So you can cook them while you are doing your homework, or paying your bills, or just watching tv! So easy. Plus, that pound bag makes about 5 cups of beans or the equivalent of 5 cans. So, after cooking we put all of the beans into sandwich bags labeled with the date and separated out into “can equivalents” and put them into a gallon size freezer bag labeled “Black Beans.” We made about 9 “cans” for just over $3 but we bought local and organic beans. Still overall we saved over $3 on that amount of beans. We also didn’t add any salt so they now aren’t sitting in loads of sodium. We also did the same with chickpeas so we have them on hand the next time we make a stew or hummus. Yes, we also make hummus ourselves which saves us about $3 per container equivalent.

We also started making potato chips ourselves. The recipe for those is super easy: Cut potatoes into 1/16″ thick slices with a mandolin, soak in salt water for 5 minutes, dry them, add a little olive oil, spread them out in a thin layer on a cookie sheet, and bake. They taste fantastic!! My dad couldn’t seem to stop eating them when we were at his house. We got a 10 lb bag of potatoes for a dollar and used half of the bag for potato chips, they made more than one of those big bags you get at the grocery store for about $2.50. It is amazing how much you can save when you make things yourself!

LD also made some tortillas himself. We have been turning the store bought tortillas into tortilla chips for a while now, but now we can go from the homemade ones. It really is amazing how little you need to make these: flour, butter, water, baking powder, and salt. All of these are pantry staples. The process for these takes about 30 minutes, but would go faster if we had a pastry blender.

We cannot wait for the summer to start so we can get some fresh produce from the area farmer’s market and start making our own salsas, bouillon cubes, jellies, apple sauce, vegetable broth, etc. We even want to start making some dog treats for Tasha! It would help with that whole allergy thing as we are in complete control over what would be in them.

There are some kitchen gadgets we are excited to get soon: dehydrator, pressure cooker, food mill. As these items aren’t common in most kitchens, but we can use them to make so many more things! Our own instant rice, instant mashed potatoes, jellies, pasta sauce, and then can them! By this time next year, we want to only be buying a handful of items from the grocery store: olives (because they aren’t easy to get around here), dry beans, flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, milk, and margarine. Soon, we will try our first batch of fresh mozzarella! I’m so excited! I wonder how much money that will save us.

If you live in the area and want to come join us this summer for some canning. Let me know!! It will be so fun!!!

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About Danielle Beranek

Life can get away from you when being young, married, and still fairly fresh out of college. Taking on a pet, student loans, going back to school, and soon a new house is enough to leave ones head spinning. For me, life is crazy, but only on the outside.
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