- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 10 crushed Oreos
I bet you’ve seen recipes like the one above…
but is it REALLY a RECIPE?
Or just CONVENIENT?.
Or does it make you want to rant:
“That is NOT a recipe!”!
One of my homesteading goals is to one day say, “Everything I eat is made from scratch.” Nothing from a box, and minimal store-bought goods.*
I started out thinking if I quit buying anything in a package, it would not be there to easily eat, and I would make the effort to prepare home-made meals every time. I just ended up skipping meals, and that’s not smart for someone with wavy bloody sugar levels. Quitting cold-turkey was not the answer.
So, I got smarter, listened to what other people were doing, and one by one organized foods ahead of time that my husband or I could just whip together:
- Meatloaf, chicken breasts, diced chicken;
- Tomato sauce;
- Sliced sweet potatoes coated in coconut oil;
- Garden veggies: carrots, corn, green beans, parsnips, diced onion;
- Soups and broths;
- Whole/sliced fruits & freezer jam (strawberry, raspberry, pear, grape, plum);
- Zucchini carrot cranberry “sunshine” muffins for breakfast;
- Chocolate pumpkin muffins for dessert;
- Pear and plum kuchen (a cake heavy on eggs and fruit);
- Burritos with fresh tortillas and various fillings (egg, bean, meat, etc.);
I first tried a vegetable mix by canning several vegetables together. When my mom and I were heating up the pressure canner, we realized that corn took over twice as long as green beans or carrots in processing time. Whoops!
By freezing instead, the foods maintain freshness and color. The only inconvenience is that it must thaw out. If using plastic, the bag can be ripped off and the veggies quickly heated up in a pan of water. If you want to avoid plastic for many of the above items, try glass jars topped off with water, and frozen (at an angle to prevent breaking).
If you have the fruit and vegetables and time, home-canned goods are perfectly delicious & tender. Dried fruit lasts a long time and makes a great treat when your sweet tooth flares up. We also save a lot of money by not having to buy orange juice. Cherry, pear, apple, and grape are fun alternative juices.
Don’t underestimate your location: I kept onions, garlic, and squash stored year-round in Maryland. Here, in cold Washington, our basement keeps above freezing, stays dry, and works well for storing onions, squash, apples, garlic, potatoes, and seeds. Cheese can easily be aged in a refrigerator if sealed in a coat of wax (we shred and freeze softer cheese, like Mozzarella).
Outside, we bury our carrots for year-round sugary treats (cut off green tops, layer with 1 foot mounded dirt, then a thick layer of straw, and cover with a tarp. Dig up as needed. The further into winter, the sweeter they get!) Everyone that tries my dad’s carrots says they are “The Best!”
Stock up on products that you will use over a long period of time. The more variety of foods prepared, the more variety my family enjoys. Sauerkraut, pickles, mustard, brined feta and kefir all last indefinitely.
I never have to buy cultured milk products now, because I can use milk kefir to make many products, just by straining the kefir to desired thickness. (Extras always go to the happy pigs.)
- When baking, make a double/triple recipe and freeze the extra in small portions. For example, make a triple batch of muffins and put 5-6 muffins in each quart freezer bag. Mix two batches of cookies, bake one, and roll the other into a log sealed in waxed paper to freeze for fresh cookies later. That way you can take out enough for just a few days and have more variety in your diet;
- If you do not trust your hens for winter egg supply, stock up on baked goods for the freezer while you have the eggs to make them! I have been told eggs can be frozen, but we have not tried that yet. (We froze a bunch of foods with eggs in them, and you know how that goes…prepare ahead and then find out your hens don’t slow down laying!)
- *Regarding foods purchased: Our zone 5 climate obviously does not grow certain products such as coffee beans, lemons, or coconuts and we do not have the acreage for a wheat field. Therefore, we try to buy those products responsibly by purchasing fair trade, organic, local, & heirloom.
I hope you can take from my family’s ideas to come up with some ways of preparing more foods for your household.
Likewise, if you have some great ideas on how to simplify food preparation, please comment and share with us!