LocalHarvest Newsletter, December 23, 2017|
I Ain't Got No Dough, But I Got Fresh Bread
Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter, and Seasons Greetings to you all-
There are times in most people's lives when their bank accounts dwindle towards
a painful void. The holidays often contribute towards that depletion (buy this,
buy that, check off everyone on your list, travel, etc). Thankfully, my family
doesn't expect much from me. I'm pretty good as setting the bar low ("wow, you
sent us a card- thank you so much!"). It's OK- I have come to peace with the
fact that my handwritten cards are the best gift I can give, along with
plentiful hugs and "so good to see yous".
This winter, the funds depletion seems more acute than ever, but I won't bore
you with the details why. Suffice it to say, I must get creative to feed my
family through this winter. I am thankful for the opportunity to clear out my
pantry of random bags of things from the bulk section and eat through as many
jars that I put up over the summer. What are some other ways to stretch those
food dollars through the wintertime?
To be clear- I do not spend all my time laboring in the kitchen, I have a busy
life just like most of your. Secondly, I am not a gourmand or a very talented
cook. My family gets fed, we eat healthy, and once in a while my food even
tastes good! Thus, the following suggestions are only things that I am willing
to do myself.
- Buy a box of cabbages and make a huge vat of sauerkraut or kimchi.
- Toss diced-up root vegetables (think potatoes, carrots, turnips) with some
apples, onions, olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast them until slightly browned
and fork tender.
- Buy whole grains and dry beans from the bulk section (or order by the 25lb
bag). Then once a week, cook a big pot of grains or beans with a pint or two of
stock that you made for great flavor and boosted nutrition. I then have
plentiful cooked beans that I can add to tacos, burritos, scrambled eggs, or
throw into a pasta salad over several days. You can even save the bean cooking
liquid and add it to soup. Leftover grains make a great "fried rice" with
scrambled eggs, perfect for a hearty breakfast.
- Pull that dusty bread machine out of the closet and start using it again.
It costs me about .80¢ to make a loaf in my bread machine, while my favorite
bread in the store costs around $4.99.
- Buy bones or save the bones from meat you eat to make your own stock.
- Save all your vegetable trimmings, keep them in the freezer until the time
comes that you will be making stock. Use them to add flavor and minerals to
- Render animal fats. Either buy bulk bags of fat, or cut if off of
roasts/chops that maybe have too much on them for your liking. Save up the fat
in the freezer until you have enough to render in a crockpot. Another way to
use fat is to trim it off a piece of meat you are eating and instead dice it up
and lightly render it to sauté some greens in.
- Ground meat is cheaper than steaks, chops, bacon, etc. But it can get
boring just making burgers all the time. Some ways that I mix it up include
getting creative with the meatloaf (mixing different kinds of meat or adding
lots of vegetables to it), making meatballs, sautéing with vegetables and
serving over brown rice or quinoa, adding canned tomatoes, peppers, and onions
for taco night, or making different variations of shepherd's pie. Instead of
buying linked sausages (I'm not a big fan of the casings anyways), I buy ground
meat and mix in my own spices to make bulk sausage. It's not only cheaper but
helps me avoid things like preservatives, excess salt, and sugar that are
sometimes added to sausage.
- I really try to stay on top of food waste most of the time, but especially
when my budget is lean. If the cauliflower is starting to brown, just trim off
the brown bits. Pull off the wilted leaves of lettuce but eat the rest. If your
broccoli has gotten floppy, use it in a cream of broccoli soup instead.
- All leftovers get eaten, even if I am sick of them. If that pot of beans I
made on Sunday evening is getting boring by Wednesday, I will put the rest into
pint size containers and throw in the freezer for later use. Then when I am
making a soup or taco night, I just thaw out a container of already cooked
beans rather than having to resort to using more expensive canned beans. I
still always keep a few cans of beans around for emergencies or exhausted
According to Shannon Hayes, author of "Long Way on a Little",
you can pinch pennies and still enjoy delicious and nutritious farm-fresh
foods. Her book is full of recipes for using all parts of the animal, making
stock from bones, rendering fats, creative re-use of leftovers, and more. This
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Ground Pork,
is courtesy of Shannon. It is simple to make, gluten-free, and looks gorgeous
on the table. Use it for a fun weeknight meal or to bring to your next holiday
supper and wow your friends.