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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Frugal Kitchens 101 - The Rising Costs of Food

Frugal Kitchens 101

A few days I followed a thread on a forum I participate on regarding the rising costs of food.  Some were reporting an increase in a box of cereal from $2.89 to $3.59 so on that box the price increased by 60¢ almost overnight.  Similar increases are being reported across North America.  According to one article I read, there is a predicted food shortage as a result of changing weather patterns, natural disasters and rising oil prices.  On the Canadian front, food insecurity has been a topic I have addressed a couple of times on my Canadian Perspective blog.  Food insecurity is growing in Canada.  More Canadians are going hungry with the largest sector being singe moms with children.  With the ever rising costs of food now is the time to make those frugal food choices that will enable you to continue to ensure your own food security.  This weeks Frugal Kitchens 101 discusses ways in which you can increase your food security.

  • cook from scratch - By far the greatest increases in food costs will be seen in heavily processed foods.  This will widen the price gap between whole foods and those already prepared or partially prepared for you.  Avoid buying any processed foods you don't really have to especially if you are on a bare bones food budget. 
  • watch the global food market - Certain foods will increase in price due to their adverse local growing conditions.  Avoid these foods if at all possible during the actual crisis.  However, if a potential problem is announced (eg. recent rice shortage scare) make an informed decision as to whether to stock up a bit on that particular food. 
  • grow what you can - The first bit of frugal advice when trying to curb your food dollars is to grow whatever you can.  The problem is this takes a bit of planning as the food will take a couple of months or longer until you can harvest You do not need a huge garden to supplement your diet with home grown fruits, vegetables and herbs.  Most herbs will grow nicely indoors on a sunny windowsill.  Leafy greens, strawberries, tomatoes and peppers can be grown indoors as well.
  • raise your own - There is a growing trend of families where permitted raising backyard chickens mainly for their eggs.  Many more are raising rabbits as a meat source because there are few restrictions as to where you can raise them.  Some enterprising families are keeping bees where permitting and have even turned backyard swimming pools into small trout farms.  Before you even think about doing any of this, any type of raising your own must be researched fully so you understand exactly what is involved.  If your lifestyle is such that you are gone most of the day or you go on extended vacations, raising your own likely is not for you.  In the case of chickens and rabbits, if you are not close enough to a feed lot, feed may simply be too expensive to make raising your own worth your while.  Another thing to consider is chickens that have stopped laying become a liability in that they are costing you money in feed and you are getting nothing out of it.  That is time for the chicken to go into the stew pot but slaughtering a chicken and prepping it for the stew pot is a bit more involved and not something everyone is comfortable doing.  The same goes for rabbits.  However, in times of food shortages and rising prices it may be necessary to overcome this
  • preserve what you grow and raise - Preserving the excess bounties of your garden and the animals you raise is an easy way to line your pantry shelves with good, wholesome food ready for use when you may not be able to afford to buy food.  Preserving includes: curing, drying, freezing, fermenting and canning.
  • establish a pantry - Ideally aim for a one year supply on all foods your family enjoys.  Initially focus on those foods that have a long shelf life and are inexpensive to buy in larger quantities: dried beans, split peas, dried pastas, rices, flours, sugars, grains (eg. oatmeal, bulgar, couscous,  salts, preserving supplies (eg. Pomona's pectin, citric acid, Morton's Tenderquick).  Add in smaller quantities of the powdered extras like: cheddar cheese, peanut butter, butter, eggs, honey, and milks.  From there start stocking with home canned or commercially canned fods and extras.
  • establish a network - Establish a network of family, friends and neighbour with whom you can share in food acquisition, preserving and in time of need a helping hand. 

1 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

All very good tips!