Sad as it is, I have to post that in many cases it is now less expensive to purchase prefab, processed foods. Up until the past few months, it was still less costly to cook from scratch. In my area it is officially not so anymore. I can now purchase 20 lbs. of processed potatoes from the freezer section for approx. $5 less than fresh in the produce dept. I haven't had the courage to compare the price of instant or dehydrated to fresh yet. Potatoes aren't the only fresh produce to cost more than their processed counterparts. They are simply the example I have used here.
While it is my sincerest hope that groceries in your neck of the woods haven't reached such a state, if they have, don't despair. There are still ways to reduce costs while providing nutritious meals. Here are a few of our newest favorites along with some tried and true standbys.
- Always, always, always compare costs between stores within your area. However, don't go too far afield. Fuel expenses quicly outweigh food savings.
- Research. Research prices in non-grocery type stores. Check the local dollar store, discount store, pharmacy, and other markets not usually connected with groceries. Many stores are now carrying canned goods, baking supplies, and other grocery items. Often their prices are much lower. Just be certain to check sizes. Sometimes prices aren't as great as they seem; the size of the product may be smaller.
- Don't forget markets that were previously too pricey. Health food stores may now be comparable, or even less expensive, than your traditional grocer.
- Plant a garden. Yes, I know it is everywhere, but it is still good advice. If you live in a warm climate, please take advantage of being able to grow produce year round. It will save you a bundle. Not only will your homegrown produce be healthier, any extra abundance you grow can provide you with valuable items for bartering or selling.
- Consider swapping your garden excess for someone else's. Maybe you have squash running out of your ears while someone else in your community has an overflow of fruit. Make their day and yours by swapping out.
- Can, freeze, dehydrate any and everything that you possibly can find.
- Forage. Yes, forage. Find out what the laws are in regards to foraging in your area and then hit the road. We have some of the most beautiful, luscious fruit ready for jelly making and all of it was free of charge. It pays to keep ears and eyes open. Ask. What's the worst you will hear? No?
- When foraging, don't overlook supposed weeds. A number of weeds are super greens. Lambsquarter out powers even spinach. Nettles are a meaty green. Consider harvesting seeeds from these greens to plant and grow inside for harvesting throughout the winter. We are all for healthy greens all year long. Always know exactly what you are picking and never eat without confirmed identification.
- Be willing to barter. Do you possess a skill? Ask local farmers/ranchers/others if they would be willing to trade your skill for some of their product. Homemade bread can be exchanged for organic eggs and/or milk. Typing, word processing, editing, musical instruction, art instruction, photography, and many other skills have bartering potential. Don't take yourself for granted. Do what you do and let it work for you.