Sunday, November 30, 2014

Pantry Challenge #33 ... 2014

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So, with this past week being Thanksgiving, did I get anything pantry related done other than using from it ... what about that vitamin c powder that has been on my to-do list for way too many weeks?  Is it still there?

Read on to get the answers ...
 
My to-do list from last time:  

Start canning pinto beans … Yes! Got this huge project started! It will be interesting to see how many jars of canned beans I get out of this 25 lb bag.  This week I canned 11 quarts! I used hog jowl scraps/cubes that I had frozen earlier in the year for seasoning.  I also added a pod of dehydrated cayenne pepper that I dehydrated earlier in the year to each jar.  We like our pinto beans seasoned up this way!
Finish grinding up pork skins …Yes!  I added a quart and a half to the freezer part of my pantry.  I don't care for this chore, but I do like the convenience of having them ready for use when needed!
Make vitamin C capsules … Yes!  I made 120 capsules!  Aren’t you proud of me!!!!
 
In Addition ….

Remember when I shared with you about roasting fresh peanuts in the shell and remember that I told you that we would eat our fill of them then I would bag up the rest and freeze them?  I did that this week too!  I added 4 one-gallon bags of peanuts to the freezer part of my pantry.
I ran across what looks like will be a good series on ‘the pantry’ over at Blue Bird Nesting.  I’m looking forward to reading each entry as she publishes them.
We did some ‘Black Friday’ shopping at CVS and Walgreens. Here’s what we got:
CVS … 12 cans tuna and 2 bottles of Dawn dishwashing detergent …paid $8.72  (saved … $14.71 using coupons, ECB’s and taking advantages of sales.)
Walgreens … 2 bottles Dove shampoo, 1 Listerine Dental floss, 4 Gear deodorants and 2 packages of ponytail holders … paid $10.63 plus have $9 in rapid rewards for next shopping trip (saved $28.98 using coupons, RR’s and taking advantages of sales.)
The specific area of my pantry that I’m focusing on restocking for the months of November and December is baking supplies.  This time of year most stores run sales on their baking supplies, so it’s a good time to do some replenishing.   Here are the items I will be watching sales for:
Butter … I added 2 more pounds to the freezer part of my pantry.
Sugar-free chocolate chips
Coconut oil
Olive oil

In other news:
I used up two of the fall candles I’ve been burning since the weather got cooler but instead of throwing the jars away I cleaned them up and turned them into containers for q-tips and cotton balls.  (That's them in the picture at the beginning of the post.)
My hair needed trimming so I got my husband to do it for me. 
Someone ask me if I would do some Thanksgiving baking for them and ordered two cakes to be picked up on Wednesday.  I was thrilled to get the orders and set about getting the job done.   I already had most of the needed ingredients on hand so I didn’t have to go out and buy much.  My well stocked pantry came through for me again!
I took advantage of JoAnn Fabric’s Black Friday sales and purchased a bolt of pellon and a bolt of muslin.  Both were deeply discounted plus they were offering free shipping if purchased within a certain time frame.  I also purchased adult size t-shirts that were on sale for $2 each.
Since December is typically a very busy month I set down and, using a ‘fill in calendar’ on my computer, made out a menu for the entire month.  I then took that menu and made out a grocery list.  I’m all set to do our grocery shopping for the whole month in one trip.  Thankfully, I don’t have to buy much!
Remember last week I told you that I had dropped my cell phone for the second time in 6 weeks and that the second drop had finished it off.  Well, we got it replaced this week at minimum cost to us and lowered our cell phone bill in the process!  Win! Win!
My husband’s birthday was Thursday … on Thanksgiving Day.  I baked him his favorite cake and we had his favorite meals all day long.   I’m so glad that both of us are content to celebrate our special days in ways that don’t blow our budget.
I stitched up a travel size envelope style pillow case for my little granddaughter.
I finished stitching up a doll quilt I’m making for a doll we’re giving the same granddaughter for Christmas.  I’m also stitching up a little diaper bag, outfits and diapers for the doll.  In addition, I’m stitching her up an apron to go with the kitchen set she already has.  I’m having so much fun! 
We purchased a Christmas scene puzzle to start putting together throughout the month of December.  It was on sale and I had a gift card.  We will enjoy working on this puzzle throughout the month of December.   We like doing simple things together.
Shortly after my husband had headed out to run an errand one day my phone rang … all I heard was one of my favorite Christmas songs … Dominic the Donkey … it’s our tradition to start listening to Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving and this song came on the radio before my husband even pulled out of the driveway.  Knowing that it was one of my favorites he called me, put his phone up to the radio and let me listen.  Another simple thing that brings us joy!
I opened up my Christmas gift 2014 tub this week and started shopping from it for this year’s gifts.  (I shop sales throughout the year and add to it.)

I started decorating for Christmas this week using what I have.

Here are some things I didn’t do …
I deliberately chose to stay away from any and all ‘Black Friday’ sales unless it was something that I had specifically planned to purchase.  (Earlier in the week I sat down with the sales flyers and my need list and mapped out our ‘Black Friday’ shopping.)

Here’s my pantry to-d0 list for next week:
Continue canning pinto beans
Grind up another bag of pecans and add them to the jar I keep in my refrigerator all the time.

Now it’s your turn, what pantry related and/or frugal things have you done since we last talked?

Patsi  ... a.k.a grandmommie pat


 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pantry Challenge #32 ... 2014

Almost all the leaves have fallen off the trees and Fall is finally here!  Today is a rainy cool day, the kind where you just want to curl up with a good book and lose yourself in it … but it’s also the week of Thanksgiving which means there is no time for losing yourself in anything except the kitchen.

For all A Working Pantry’s USA readers, I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with lots of yummy food, fellowship, family and friends!

My to-do list from last time:  

Make vitamin c capsules using the vitamin c powder I purchased last month.   No Comment! 

Watch grocery store ads for sales on ham and pumpkin.  I’m hoping I can find some good deals on this next week! 

Juice lemons and freeze the juice in ice cube trays.  Done!  The last few times we’ve purchased lemons at the store there has been a problem of them ruining quicker than normal so my solution is to bring them home, wash them in vegetable wash, zest them, juice them, freeze them in ice cube trays and store in a freezer bag until used. 

Juice limes and freeze the juice in ice cube trays.  Done!  The last few times we’ve purchased limes at the store there has been a problem of them ruining quicker than normal so my solution is to bring them home, wash them in vegetable wash, juice them, freeze them in ice cube trays and store them in a freezer bag until used. 

Zest the lemons mentioned above.  Done!  I let them dry naturally and now have a half pint jar full.

Make Kefir milk.  Done!  I have another gallon sitting in my refrigerator ready for use. 

Divide and repackage bulk bacon we purchased last week.  Done!  I added 20 packages of bacon to the freezer part of my pantry.  We eat a lot of bacon! 

Divide and repackage bulk sausage we purchased last week.  Done!  I added 7 (1 lb) packages of sausage to the freezer part of my pantry.  We eat a lot of sausage too! 

Start another batch of cider fire. Done!                                                                                              

Grind up pork skins.  Half Done!
 

In Addition ….
One day we were in another town a couple of hours away and as is our usual custom, we hunted down a Sam’s Club (we can eat a meal really cheap at Sam’s Club).  While browsing around in the store waiting for our food to be cooked, we came across something our local Sam’s Club doesn’t have … 25 and 50 lb bags of pinto beans!  (The price per pound was cheaper on the 25 lb bag than it was on the 50 lb bag … it pays to watch the unit prices.)  We purchased a 25 lb bag and brought it home.  Can you guess what I’ll be canning over the next several weeks in and around the holiday festivities!
I washed and cleaned the ginger I harvested last week, used part of it in the cider fire I made and stored the rest of it in the refrigerator for future use.   (After the initial washing where most of the dirt was removed by hand, I did the final wash using my dishwasher, without powders and rinse aids added, of course.)
I harvested 3 heads of broccoli from our fall garden.
I chopped/ground up enough pecans for another quart jar of chopped pecans.  We use chopped pecans when making waffles, pancakes, in baking, as toppings, etc.  It’s so convenient to be able to open the refrigerator door, pull out the jar, measure out what you need and then put the jar back in the refrigerator.  This saves time when you’re baking and only takes a few minutes to ‘chop’ up a whole quart using a food chopper or processor.  They store well in the refrigerator too!
After I finished making cider fire, I had fresh horseradish, ginger and jalepeno peppers left.  So … I took the horseradish, made sure it was completely dry and wrapped it in plastic wrap.  I had 3 pieces left over so I put all 3 individually wrapped pieces in a freezer bag and put them in the bottom drawer of my refrigerator.  They should last quite a while there.  I made sure the ginger was completely dry, put it in a freezer as well and also put it in the bottom drawer of my refrigerator.  I’ll be looking for ways to use it or preserve it in the near future.  And finally, what did I do with the jalepeno peppers?  I sliced them up into approximately 1/8 inch rings, filled snack bags, put the snack bags in a freezer bag and added them to my freezer for future use.  Waste not, want not!
I had to buy eggs from the store this week!  That really hurt!  Our chickens are molting and are barely laying!  There sure is a difference in ‘home-grown’ eggs and store bought eggs!

The specific area of my pantry that I’m focusing on restocking for the months of November and December is baking supplies.  This time of year most stores run sales on their baking supplies, so it’s a good time to do some replenishing.   Here are the items I will be watching sales for:
Butter … I added 12 pounds to the freezer part of my pantry this week.  These 12 plus the 4 I purchased last week give me a total of 16 pounds thus far.  Aldi’s is running a special on butter from now through the holidays for $2.29/lb.  This is much cheaper than I can find it anywhere else so the goal is to stock-up a year’s supply.
Sugar-free chocolate chips
Coconut oil
Olive oil

Here are some other things I did:
I’m working on earning another $5 Amazon gift card from swagbucks.
We’re having some unusually cold weather a lot earlier than is normal for our area, so this week we prepped the wood stove for use and started using it.  This will help us keep our electric bill down this winter and stay warmer too!
I’ve started working on my physical and spiritual goals for 2015.  This is something that I need time to think and pray about so I usually start the process this time of the year.  I’ll add them to the blog when I get them made as a possible tool of encouragement for you and as an accountability tool for myself.
I continue working on the goal I set earlier in the year of writing out the complete book of Proverbs.  I only write out 5 or so verses four or five times a week in a notebook I set aside for this purpose.  This week I finished up chapter 23 and started on chapter 24.  I really like this method, it allows me to think and ponder on each verse as I write them out gleaning nuggets of wisdom from God’s Word as I go.  In fact, I like this method so much that I’ll be choosing another book of the Bible to do the same way for 2015.
We received the information on how much our health insurance coverage will cost us next year this week … it is a bit over a $400/month increase from what we’ve been paying per month this year.  We will be taking a close look at our expenses and asking God to show us areas we can cut to meet this increase. 

Here are some things I didn’t do …
I really, really, really like the frosty the snowman hats that are used as tree toppers on Christmas trees.  Did I mention that I really, really, really like them and have wanted one ever since I saw them used as a tree topper the first time.  This past week I had the opportunity to purchase one … at 20% off … We were doing some Christmas shopping and I had it in my hand headed to the check-out … did I mention that I have wanted one of these for a very long time … my dear husband gave me his blessing on buying it … I really, really wanted it … and then I remembered the financial goal we have of staying within our allotted Christmas budget.  So, what was it that I didn’t do … I didn’t buy that hat!  I didn’t buy something that I really, really wanted!  I chose instead to deny myself something that would bring temporary pleasure in order to stay within our Christmas spending budget and consequently move us closer to our long term goal of becoming debt free.   Do you sometimes find it hard to stick to financial goals that you make?  Proverbs 23:12 says to ‘apply your heart to discipline and your ears to words of knowledge.’  Discipline is not easy when we allow our ‘wanters’ to get in the way of what we know is best, is it?
I dropped my cell phone this week for the second time in a 6 week period and this time it finished it off.  Instead of rushing out and purchasing another one, we’re taking our time and exploring our options.  This is one area where we feel we can cut our expenses so we want to take our time and prayerfully make the best financial choice for us. 

Here’s my pantry to-d0 list for next week:

Start canning pinto beans
Finish grinding up pork skins
Make vitamin C capsules

Now it’s your turn, what pantry related and/or frugal things have you done since we last talked?

Patsi

 

This post linked to:  Homestead Barn Hop #186

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pantry Challenge #31 ... 2014

Writing just once a week instead of daily is really working well for me; it is allowing me to find the balance and peace in the blogging world that I had lost.  Thank you for understanding my need to pull back and for all the encouragement you’ve given me.

Since there is so much that I want to share with you and since I’m only writing once a week now, starting with this week, I’m going to be stretching my writing to include some non-pantry doings.  Read on to see what I mean.  I hope you like the additions ... and the new header!
My to-do list from last time:  

Plant garlic.  Done!  I planted 79 cloves of garlic.
Make vitamin c capsules using the vitamin c powder I purchased last month … hmmm, do I even need to say anything!!! 

Watch grocery store ads for sales on turkey, ham and pumpkin.  I’d like to be able to add some of all three of these to my pantry.  My hoped for sale price for the turkey and ham is $.99/lb.  Last year I was able to find turkey at $.79/lb but with the way prices have increased, I’ll be surprised if I find turkey that low this year.  My husband reminded me that we had 2 turkeys stored in the freezer at a friend’s house (I totally forgot about them … can we say out of sight, out of mind!), so I won’t be buying anymore this year.  We’re not big turkey eaters anyway, so the 2 we have will be plenty.  Update … Never say never!  I was at Walmart in another town later in the week walking through the grocery section when I found Riverside turkey's on sale for $.46/lb. There were no strings attached, no coupon was required and you didn't have to buy a certain amount to get this price. Even though I already have 2 in the freezer and even though turkey is not our favorite meat ... I bought 2 more. I paid between $6 and $7 for each ... I just couldn't walk away from it! Anyone else ever done anything like that????
I had a coupon for $.75/2 cans of Libby’s pure pumpkin so I added 2 cans to my pantry.
In Addition ….
I cooked a roast for dinner one night for my husband and I … it was good … but it was way more than we could eat in one meal and we really weren’t in the mood to have it again within the week.  So … what did I do … I slipped it into a freezer bag and froze it (I labeled it so I would know what kind of meat was in the bag.).  When the weather gets a bit colder, which seems to be forecasted for the near future, I’ll take it out, thaw it, chop it up and make a pot of soup!  What do you do with leftover roast?
I harvested the 3 pots of ginger I have been growing since spring.  I was really pleased with the yield this year. 
Remember last week when I told you that I had frozen some stuffed peppers?  Well, this week I needed to work outside for a good part of the day so before I headed out I reached in the freezer and pulled out a gallon bag of stuffed peppers.  I opened the bag and took out the number of the individually wrapped stuffed peppers I wanted to cook, closed the gallon bag back up and returned it to the freezer.  Freezing stuffed peppers this way gives me the option of using what I need when I need them without having to cook the whole package.  How do I freeze stuffed peppers?  I make a mixture of ground beef, ground pork or whatever kind of ground meat I have, add ground up pork skins, shredded cheese, seasonings and chopped onions.  I mix it all up real good and then stuff the bell peppers that I have blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes.  After the peppers are stuffed, I wrap each pepper individually using plastic wrap, then I fill a gallon freezer bag with the individually wrapped peppers, close it up and add it to the freezer.
We were bargain shopping in Food Lion one day and saw that 73/27 ground beef was on sale for $3.49/lb.  We talked about how expensive meat had gotten and then I remembered something … I had a rain check in my little coupon holder in my purse for 73/27 ground beef for $1.99/lb from Food Lion.  We scooped up 4 packages with a total weight of 16.58 pounds and headed for the check-out.  Instead of paying $66.04 … $3.49 on sale for it, we paid $33.66 … $1.99/lb using our rain check.  That was a major savings!  Never underestimate the significance of a ‘rain check!’  We brought the ground beef home and I vacuum sealed sixteen 1+ pound packages of ground beef and added them to my pantry.
On the same bargain hunting trip we went into Walgreens, right next door to Food Lion, and found Vlassic Kosher Dill Spears (24 oz. jar) on clearance for $1.99 per jar.  The regular price was $3.98 per jar.  We purchased 3 jars.
We were able to get a rain check for Libby’s corned beef from Walgreens this week as well.  They were running a sale on it for $3.39/12 oz can and they were out … so, we requested a rain check!  I put it in my ‘carry in my purse’ coupon holder along with my other rain checks and coupons that I use.  We love corned beef and cabbage and since our cabbage will be ready to start eating from our garden soon, having these rain checks will make it more economical to purchase the corned beef for this meal.
I entered more receipts onto the Walmart Savings Catcher program … thus far I’ve not saved/earned any money using this program.
The specific area of my pantry that I’m focusing on restocking for the months of November and December is baking supplies.  This time of year most stores run sales on their baking supplies, so it’s a good time to do some replenishing.   Here are the items I will be watching sales for:
Butter … added 4 (1 lb) packages
Sugar-free chocolate chips … added 6 bags to my pantry this week
Almond flour … I’m removing this from the stock-up list because after doing inventory I discovered I have enough to get through the winter months.
Coconut flour … I’m removing this from the stock-up list because after doing inventory I discovered I have enough to get through the winter months.
Coconut oil … added 2 (15 oz) jars
Olive oil
Stevia … I’m removing this from the stock-up list because after doing inventory, I discovered I have enough to get through the winter months.
Here are some other things I did:
I got all of our winter clothes out of storage this week.  In addition to washing and putting them away I also checked to see what, if any, additional clothing we would need for the winter months.  I am happy to say that we won’t need to purchase anything!
I cut buttons off of clothing headed for the rag pile and/or trash. 
We planted several maple tree seeds that we got for free in a big pot.  Hopefully, in the spring they will come up and we’ll be able to grow our own maple trees. We love maple trees especially in the fall when their leaves start turning.
I finally got accepted by Pinecone Research to do surveys for them.  I am excited about this as I’ve been trying for quite some time to be accepted into their program.  I won’t get rich, but every little bit helps!
I finished earning enough swagbucks for another $5 Amazon gift card!  Now I have $10 in Amazon gift cards.
I used a 60% off coupon at JoAnn’s Fabric to purchase a yard of silk fabric.  The final cost to me was $2.15.  My oldest daughter has ‘hinted’ that my sweet little granddaughter needs a silk pillowcase.  Guess what I’m going to be stitching up with the silk fabric???? 
That same granddaughter is having a ‘kitchen themed’ Christmas this year so I purchased some Doc McStuffins fabric using a 40% off coupon to make her an apron and some cute little cup cake fabric to make her some pot holders and oven mittens.  I used a 25% off coupon for that.  (Doc McStuffins is one of her favorite characters right now!) 
Here are some things I didn’t do …
I didn’t buy the magazine that I wanted or the same book that I’ve picked up twice in the last couple of weeks at the same store thinking it would be a good book to read.  (I did put that book on my Christmas gift list though!)
I declined a shopping trip to one of my favorite stores because I knew it would be hard for me not to spend money there.  Sometimes you just have to stay away from temptation!
Here’s my pantry to-d0 list for next week:
Make vitamin c capsules using the vitamin c powder I purchased last month.
Watch grocery store ads for sales on ham and pumpkin.  
Juice lemons and freeze the juice in ice cube trays.
Juice limes and freeze the juice in ice cube trays.
Zest the lemons and limes mentioned above.
Make Kefir milk.
Divide and repackage bulk bacon we purchased last week.
Divide and repackage bulk sausage we purchased last week.
Start another batch of cider fire.                                      
Grind up pork skins. 

Now it’s your turn, what pantry related and/or frugal things have you done since we last talked?  

Patsi
A Working Pantry

 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pantry Challenge #30 ... 2014

Let me just start off by saying ‘I love getting your comments and last week’s were especially encouraging.’  Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to share and encourage me … it goes a long way in my ability to keep on keeping on!

My to-do list from last time: 

Watch grocery store ads for sales on turkey, ham and pumpkin.  I’d like to be able to add some of all three of these to my pantry.  My hoped for sale price for the turkey and ham is $.99/lb.  Last year I was able to find turkey at $.79/lb but with the way prices have increased, I’ll be surprised if I find turkey that low this year.  Still watching and waiting!

Preserve the peppers we harvested by making stuffed peppers for the freezer, chopping, dehydrating and grinding some into powder and chopping and freezing some for soups, omelets and casseroles.  Done!  I added 16 snack bags of quarter cup increments of chopped bell peppers, 4 snack bags of half cup increments of sliced bell peppers and 1 pint of chopped and dehydrated bell peppers which I’ll ground into powder when I’m ready to use it.

Can sauerkraut that has been in the works for the last 6 weeks.  Done!  I added 14 quarts of sauerkraut to my pantry.

Make vitamin c capsules using the vitamin c powder I purchased last month.  Nope!  I was all set to get this job done when we got a phone call from a neighbor/friend who had a medical emergency requiring surgery.  I will get to those vitamin c capsules eventually!!!!

In Addition ….
I ran out of salad dressing right in the middle of making a bowl of cole slaw … however, I didn’t have to run to the store or substitute something else or make it from scratch.  What did I do?  I walked over to my closet converted to pantry and pulled another jar off the shelf!  (We found it on a really good sale for $.99/jar several months ago and added several to our pantry.)  Taking advantages of sales is just one way I keep my pantry well-stocked.

I opened up my ‘pantry’ of candles this week and started burning them; the weather has gotten cool enough to enjoy them.  My favorite brand is Yankee candles and right now I am burning the harvest scent in one room and pumpkin spice scent in another. I have several other scents to choose from as well.   How did I accumulate a ‘pantry’ of candles?  I watch for sales and I also put them on my mother's day/birthday/Christmas gift list.

In the midst of cleaning I ran out of my homemade all purpose cleaner.  I whipped out the ingredients, made some more and kept right on cleaning.  I like to have a spray bottle of it for the kitchen and one for each of the bathrooms.   It saves me some steps and everything is in the room where I need it when I need it.  Here's the recipe that I use:
Homemade All Purpose Cleaner
1 cup rubbing alcohol
1 teaspoon Dawn dishwashing liquid
Pour these two items into a spray bottle
Finish filling spray bottle with water
Give it a good shake and it's ready for use

We were given a five gallon bucket of peanuts in the shell that were grown locally.  We roasted them and let them cool completely.  After we eat all we want of them I’ll package the rest up into meal/snack size portions and freeze the rest.  Why freeze them instead of oven-canning or vacuum sealing them … because the oil in the peanuts will cause them to go rancid.  Freezing them will prevent this from happening.

We were given 4 BIG catfish.  My husband cut them up (they were already dressed) and froze 4 meal size packages for future use.  YEAH!!!!

I inventoried my pantry to see if I had everything we needed to get through the winter months should the weather make it necessary to have to rely on what we have on hand for a period of time.  I’m happy to say that with a few exceptions which I’ll be working on, we’re in pretty good shape.

I started collecting coupons and taking note of black Friday sale ads this week.  I’m hoping to score some good deals as well as some freebees!

I’m within just a few swagbucks of having earned enough for another $5 Amazon gift card.  This one plus the one I’ve already earned will give me $10 in Amazon gift cards that I can use toward groceries.

The excel spread sheet I created to keep up with what we spend on groceries tells me that we spent $7.20 on food last week.  We ate well all week and didn’t feel deprived at all.  This is just one of the many things keeping a well-stocked pantry does for us … it allows us the privilege of not having to go to the grocery store every week.
 
I'm re-reading some of Laine's Letters on ways she stretched her food budget.  Sadly, Laine is no longer writing and her website has been taken down.  (I have most all of Laine's Letters printed out and preserved ... so glad I did that while she was still writing.)  If you have any of her letters and want some good, basic and very helpful information on stretching your budget, pull them out and re-read them.  You won't be sorry!

The specific area of my pantry that I’m focusing on restocking for the months of November and December is baking supplies.  This time of year most stores run sales on their baking supplies, so it’s a good time to do some replenishing.   Here are the items I will be watching sales for:
Butter
Sugar-free chocolate chips
Almond flour
Coconut flour
Coconut oil
Olive oil
Stevia

 
Here’s my to-do list for this week:
Plant garlic

Make vitamin c capsules using the vitamin c powder I purchased last month

Watch grocery store ads for sales on turkey, ham and pumpkin.  I’d like to be able to add some of all three of these to my pantry.  My hoped for sale price for the turkey and ham is $.99/lb.  Last year I was able to find turkey at $.79/lb but with the way prices have increased, I’ll be surprised if I find turkey that low this year.
 
Now it’s your turn, what pantry related things have you done since we last talked?  How do you save money at the grocery store and stretch your grocery budget?

Patsi
A Working Pantry


This post linked to:  Homestead Barn Hop

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pantry Challenge #29 ... 2014


We’re under a freeze warning for tonight in our area!  That’s very unusual for us … I hope this isn’t an indicator of what this winter is going to bring our way!

I harvested a 5 gallon bucket of bell peppers in anticipation of the possible freeze as well as a gallon of cayenne peppers.  I also moved my aloe plant in from the front porch; I don’t want it to freeze.   

So, besides preparing for a possible freeze, what else have I done? 

My to-do list from last time: 

Make Miracle Healing Salve.  Done!  This is good for boo-boo’s, minor burns, etc.
Make vitamin c capsules using the vitamin c powder I purchased last month.   Hmmm … guess what, I didn’t get this done AGAIN!
Grind up pork rinds to use in low-carb cooking.  Done!  I added 2 quart bags of ground up pork rinds to the freezer part of my pantry.  I’ll use them as a low-carb substitute in recipes that call for bread crumbs.
Vacuum seal tea I purchased through Amazon's subscribe and save program last month.  Done!  I added 5 quart jars of green tea bags and 3 quart jars of oolong tea bags to my pantry.

In Addition ….
I purchased a large container of spinach, much more than we could use before it went bad so I loaded up my dehydrator, dried it and ground it up into spinach powder.  I’ll add it to omelets, meatloaf and casseroles, etc.  … it’s just another way to get some of those good veggies into our diets!
I pulled a gallon of milk from the freezer to thaw and make another gallon of kefir with.  Didn’t know you could freeze milk?  Yes, you can!  Just pour out about a cup full, put the cap back on the jug and sit it in the freezer.  When you get ready to use it, take it out and let it thaw in the refrigerator.  Give it a good shake and it’s ready to use just as you would if it had not been frozen.
I also pulled a package of bread out of the freezer for our use this week.  I let it thaw in the refrigerator as well.   It was soft and fresh just like when I brought it home from the store.  Didn’t know you could freeze bread and it be edible?  Here’s how I do it …. Wrap loaf of bread in plastic wrap (don’t take it out of the bread bag), then wrap the plastic wrapped loaf in aluminum foil.  I write what kind of bread it is and the date on the foil using a permanent marker and then into the freezer it goes, preferably on a shelf so that it doesn’t get squished!  I don’t like squished bread!  When we need bread, I transfer a loaf to my refrigerator and let it thaw.  Remove foil and plastic wrap and it’s ready to eat as usual.  When you find a sale on bread, stock up and freeze it.  Then when you need bread you can shop from your freezer instead of the store.  This works for homemade bread as well!
And yet one more thing I shopped in my pantry for this week instead of the store was orange juice.  I buy the concentrate in the cans and freeze them.  (I try to stock up when I find it on sale.)  When I need orange juice I transfer a can from the freezer to the refrigerator, let it thaw and add the correct amount of water needed to make it into orange juice.
Grocery prices seem to increase each time I go shopping which means I must continually research and learn ways to be a smarter shopper.  This week I pulled from my bookshelf the book Cut Your Grocery Bills in Half by Barbara Salsbury with Cheri Loveless, as my next tool to read and study in my war against rising prices.  The book walks it's readers through compiling/making a 'supermarket survival notebook.'  I'm hoping to learn some things that will help me stretch our food budget further.
I’m halfway to earning enough Swagbucks for another $5 Amazon gift card. 
I continue to update the excel spread sheet I created to keep up with how much we’re spending on groceries.  I can see already that this is going to be a helpful tool! 

The Specific Area of My Pantry that I focused on for October was meats.  I've been watching the sales ads and checking closely for bargains.  My goal was to add one month’s worth of additional meat for meals to my pantry above our normal usage.  So, how did I do ….

11 packages of fresh catfish nuggets ... my husband had to clean and dress the fish but other than that they were FREE!

30 lbs of bacon
4 one pound cartons of chicken livers
4 sirloin beef roasts
We got hit with a larger than expected expense this month and didn’t have the funds to add as much meat as we would have liked to our pantry, however, I’m pretty pleased with what we did do.  It wasn’t a whole month of meat meals, but it was a good effort.  Sometimes you just have to do the best you can and let that be enough!

For the months of November and December my pantry goal is to restock baking supplies in my pantry.  This time of year most stores run sales on their baking supplies, so it’s a good time to do some replenishing.   Here are the items I will be watching sales for:
Butter
Sugar-free chocolate chips
Almond flour
Coconut flour
Coconut oil
Olive oil
Stevia

Here’s my to-do list for this week:
Watch grocery store ads for sales on turkey, ham and pumpkin.  I’d like to be able to add some of all three of these to my pantry.  My hoped for sale price for the turkey and ham is $.99/lb.  Last year I was able to find turkey at $.79/lb but with the way prices have increased, I’ll be surprised if I find turkey that low this year.
Preserve the peppers we harvested by making stuffed peppers for the freezer, chopping, dehydrating and grinding some into powder and chopping and freezing some for soups, omelets and casseroles.
Can sauerkraut that has been in the works for the last 6 weeks.
Make vitamin c capsules using the vitamin c powder I purchased last month.

Now it’s your turn, what pantry related things have you done since we last talked?  How do you save money at the grocery store and stretch your grocery budget?

Patsi
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