Food Storage Less Complicated

Though every year I make more and more things from scratch, there is still too much to store in my pantry and too much to shop for. It is emotionally and physically bogging me down. Think of how much food you bring home each week and multiply that times three months, or twelve months, or two years. The advice is to store all you presently eat for three months and then the very basics for a year and even better two. Two years I’ve found is best as there sometimes are crop failures or low yields from one year to the next in my garden. I can always put less in the garden if my storage is high.

Visually put all your three months food in a room. How big would that room have to be? How would you organize it and do you have room for it? Yes, you can use closets, under beds etc. for long term storage but short term needs to be handy.  I’ve gone from having a large room to a closet smaller than our walk in clothes closet for storage and a poorly designed kitchen. See my conundrum? Yes, I could and do store a little in the crawl space but two years worth of all we presently buy? The inconvenience of the location would make it prohibitive. You see why we need less complicated food storage.

Sometimes my oldest daughter comes with me to help with the shopping so I can make it home without having a melt down. I have major sensory overload, but our daughter too needs fewer stressors in her life so I need to find another way. My mind is turning to ways to simplify the process and increase my food storage at the same time as it is at a all time low.  How do I uncomplicated? I’m thinking that the fewer things I have to buy simplifies though they would be in larger amounts. Less searching, more bulk shopping, which can be done online would be easier and save time since it comes to my door and I can better control my budget too.

  •  I began a couple years ago to narrow the amount of things we use. I eliminated packaged spice mixes except powdered ranch dressing. Can’t find a home mix I like.  Rather than having lots of different foods on my shelves and in my freezer, I have narrowed my recipes to ones that use fewer items as a whole. That means rice, potatoes, dried beans, and the vegetables we like most.

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  •   I use more substitutes from basic items for items I rarely use  like allspice, instead mix nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. All frequent use items. I mix up my own chili powder from a mix of dried peppers, ones I’ve grown, or fresh ones I buy from the store and dry. I blend a little at a time to keep in a jar for the intensity begins to wane once powdered. Hence, the preservatives in the store product. That means I can use less spices in my recipes to get the same punch of flavor. My next move with these spices will be to buy some whole that I can’t grow myself like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg so they store for a much longer period of time. This will equate to buying them less often and without the fillers and de-caking agents manufacturers use and you pay for. I now have a grater and a pestle to process them. Grow more herbs to exclude the middle man and keep a living storage is my goal as living, populating stores are ever producing.  Having green plants around me in the house cleans the air and livens my soul. There is something healing about leaning over the counter and harvesting while the wind howls and the snow pummels the house. This year was the first time since moving that I did not grow plants during the winter months and I feel the emptiness inside.
  •  I plan to make more things like corn syrup which isn’t good for you. I don’t use it much so why not make a substitute? Spruce Eats suggests: 1 cup sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water, 1 cup honey, 1 cup light molasses, 1 cup maple-flavored syrup (pancake syrup), 1 cup agave nectar, 1 cup brown rice syrup.

For dark Karo syrup substitute 3/4 cup light corn syrup plus 1/4 molasses. I have a fair amount of recipes I use molasses in and only one for dark Karo syrup. Now I’ll go even further an make my own corn syrup substitute and add molasses. I’ve worked with even making my own baking powder which is of course single action, not double. Being about to substitute or make my own being a key to simplifying.

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 The last two years I’ve bottle six boxes of tomato off the fruit truck. I’m hoping one more year of this and I will have enough to ease off as I build up my own stores of fresh from the garden. I finally have found a few tomatoes varieties that will grow well here. (A living food storage.) Overwhelmed by the mountain of tomatoes to process, this past fall after quite a few jars of lovely creamy red tomato sauce, I skipped the process of removing skins and seeds and just blended the tomatoes. No one has said a word about using the sauce in pizza or spaghetti so why bother removing the skins and seeds? For my next move, I’m going to use the sauce to make my own ketchup and BBQ sauce. I figure a couple pints at a time should do and the one can go in the freezer for emergencies, the other in the fridge. This way I won’t have too much of one thing or the other as tomato sauce has myriads of uses. The ingredients are basics I have on hand and could just increase slightly for storage.

My thoughts are on condiments and how I can buy fewer of them. We use only the basics as high quality food does not need lots of sauce. It has its own full bodies flavor. I started to fuss with making mustard which is also medicinal and I use a little in a few recipes but I wasn’t successful. I need to try again as mustard grows here, I tried it, and it is great for the soil. One day in the future we will have bees again and I’ve made vinegar from our apples so it could be all be homegrown. Mayonnaise is also on the learn to make list. Eggs and oil are basics in my food storage. If I can make mayonnaise, then I can make tarter sauce which my husband wants every five years, also Miracle Whip. I’ve been playing with using and creating a variety of of substituting them in recipes. The more you can do, the more options you have.

I sometimes buy a box of brown sugar on sale but I can easily add molasses to white sugar to give me brown sugar. I can make powdered sugar by putting granulated white sugar in the blender but it isn’t of the same quality so as little as I use, I’ll just buy it. I use little because I make more cakes from scratch and they are the snack cake variety that is so…. good without frosting. I prefer fruit, rather than frosting, with my cake anyway.

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  • Create less need for the store is part of my plan.
  • I want to store more foods in the dried form. Dried foods are easier to process and if we go solar then it uses less energy. They take up less space in the storage closet and last longer than canned.
  • Create a food storage with foods that have a greater versatility. More is not better, just more complicated.
  • Create less need for items that are not essential.
  • Create a diet that revolves around foods we can grow in order to have a living food storage. (One that just keeps growing, replenishing our stores.)Dry more foods as they take up less space, use less energy to process, and last longer.Learn to substitute and make it myself.
  • Buy less from the store but when I do buy, buy in bulk to take advantage of sales that take you to the next big sale. I do this pretty good.
  • Learn to cook from stores, things we can best produce ourselves. This has meant finding new recipes along with adjusting the ones I have. My main focus needs to be substituting rabbit for chicken.

5 thoughts on “Food Storage Less Complicated

  1. J > You might find it helpful to consider how businesses that have to hold stock to fulfill orders ; or inventory (eg a railway/railroad company holding spare parts for their locomotives) addresses the same problem/dilemma. Amongst other actions, they reduce the number of variations, which is equivalent to you making cumin seeds stand in for two or three other hot spices or seasonings. On another note, we’ve found that the quality of home preserves deteriorates a lot after a year, especially so if storage conditions aren’t ideal. The need to rotate stock means everything we eat from stores is less palatable and nutritious. Ironically, the things that keep best are those that are worst for our health, being saturated with sugar or salt! And limited storage narrows the range of foods available. That’s why we decided we would limit our storage to 1yr max, some things less. But then our climate is more steady and consistent than yours, making harvests more reliable. We wish you well with finding the right balance.

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    1. Our storage areas stay very cool for most of the year so it keeps well. It is indeed the less complicating of things that we need most. We plan on doing the same to our garden, growing less variety than first planned.Thanks for the tips.

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  2. Although I do not lack space for storage, I try to rely more on fresh food from the garden. Of course, it is of better quality, and is much less effort than canning things. I have never been very proficient with scheduling; so we often get surpluses at times, and shortages at others. I have canned such large volumes of some items that some of it eventually gets discarded for being too old(!). When tomato products start to dissolve the lids, that is a problem! Better scheduling would definitely be more efficient.

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      1. Yes, but I need to improve the technique to even out the availability of it all. There is almost nothing out there not because the cool season vegetables finished earlier than expected, and I have not started the warm season vegetables because it is supposed to be too early. I sort of suspect that winter will not be back this year. There has been no rain in a month, and none is in the forecast.

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