Missing in Action

canned foodsTo my five faithful followers, I want to extend an apology for not blogging for weeks.  I’ve succumbed to job stress, illness, and then took a vacation; all of which contributed to the lack of time and/or energy to post anything.

That said, I have not stopped scouring articles and commentaries for important information about the state of our great country.  The news has not gotten better.  However, I am pleased that the price of gas has gone down a few cents.  I’m not optimistic about the long-term likelihood of that continuing though in that we are just now heading into summer when prices typically shoot up as requirements for special mixes for gasoline come into play.  I’ve had to adjust my budget for our road trip coming up in October (we’re driving down to the famous national parks in Utah).

Our family has been working hard to set ourselves up for success in this economy with the weakening dollar.  We’re stocking up our pantry so it won’t bite the budget quite so hard as these prices start shooting up.  We’ve all heard and seen the news; I’ve even blogged many of the articles about skyrocketing prices on sugar, coffee, corn, grains, and more.  I’ve already noticed a huge increase in my typical grocery bill for staples like eggs, milk, cheese, and produce.  I imagine fresh foods will go up dramatically just because of crop failures due to these massive storm systems that have wiped out the mid-west.  I know many crops in Mexico and the southern states got hit with uncharacteristic freezes and cold weather which means fruit is impacted as well.

So, when there’s a sale on anything, stock-up.  Instead of buying one or two cans, buy four or five.  Consider starting a small garden this summer and plant vegetables like lettuce, spinach, tomatoes and beans.  I’m looking forward to having my own organic garden this year, even with my tiny yard.

I also suggest checking out the Grocery Outlet and Summit Grocery (see their website here where you can get great deals on canned goods, but be sure to check the expiration dates.  I always look for dates that are over a year out; two or more years is even better.  Remember that highly acidic foods do expire much faster, so don’t expect to find a lot of expirations out more than a year. 

One thing you have to do and is very important - rotate your foods so you don’t end up with expired foods.  A cupboard full of expired foods is just a waste of money.  However, there are some foods that I don’t worry about expiration quite so much; things like boxed macaroni and cheese, popcorn, or pasta noodles.  If they’re a couple of weeks or even a few months past, I don’t worry about it.  We’ve eaten them anyway and are still alive and well.  Our family has adopted a “hot shelf” where we place items that are either recently expired or soon to expire.  That is our go-to shelf first when planning meals.

One other thing you may want to consider is getting a freezer.  You can find them cheaply on Craigslist if you want to go the used route.  I was able to get a great deal on fresh chicken breasts, ground turkey and more and because we had the freezer I could stock up.  We’ve also invested in a vacuum packaging machine which adds extra life to our frozen foods.  Instead of chicken lasting only a couple of months in the freezer in their original packaging material, the vacuum packaging machine means I can safely keep my foods for up to a year.

Stocking up means some peace of mind for my budget.  It also means that I am not making very many trips to the store just to prepare a meal.  We now have plenty of food to choose from on any given day.

Stock up and save!

Image: xedos4 /