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Monday, October 20, 2008

Scratch Cooking VS Couponing Revisited

Funny--I was thinking again about Scratch cooking vs. couponing and I googled to see what has been said on this subject and my own post on the subject came up first. Too funny. After I wrote that post I had a little bit of head bumping with Moti over at Jewish Simplicity. He and I have a few areas of disagreement but I have to admit--I could do better with the health aspects of my cooking/shopping. He does have a point there.

I asked myself, what is it I most like about 'semi-scratch' or using the coupons?

Convenience

Cost is second, since I use sales and coupons I can get convenience pretty cheap, flavor third--it does taste OK usually. What ends up dead last though is healthfulness.

I do know better but I have a sort of rebellious streak in me that likes to do it my own way. If someone tells me something is bad for me, I'm the sort who will perversely eat it. I also got in the habit of using more convenience foods when I had a full time job several years ago. Now I only work part time, and perhaps that is going to be the way it is. I may not find a suitable full time job in the near future.

Traditional scratch cooking is not quick. HOWEVER-- you can have convenience with scratch cooking--if you work ahead. Since I have several days off each week and often work short evening shifts I have time on my hands that could be put to use doing some small batch canning.

I think small batch canning is the way to go-- a smaller pressure canner can do a small batch fairly quickly and you have some variety in the pantry without too much work or exhaustion fighting with a giant pot on the stove.
It mustn't be too small though. It is not safe to pressure can in a canner that won't hold at least 4 quart size jars. There must be room in there to allow for pressure to work. Smaller pressure cookers are not 'canners'.

I noticed yesterday that when Hubby decided to boiling water bath can his little 1/2 pints of hot sauce he didn't use one of my big old canners, he used a stock pot. Much smaller and less mess and work--and he had this done before I got home from shopping and the mess picked up. It was 'short work'. That too made a light bulb go off in my little head.

It doesn't have to be a 'big production'.


Small batch canning could be a way to take advantage of a backyard garden or even of great deals at the grocery store. It could actually work in tandem with my Grocery Game style of shopping as I do get a head's up on my list when produce and meats are at their lowest price.

Freezing convenience foods can also be a great way to add convenience,save money and get great taste and healthy foods.
I think where I may be headed is toward re-organizing my food storage. Probably a little at a time.

Perhaps in time the freezer could be filled with homemade vegetable mixes like the ones I often buy with coupons at the store.

Asian stir fry, spring vegetables, summer blend, seasoned green beans, soup mix... etc..


Perhaps the pantry cupboards could have home canned convenience foods:

soups, chicken, ground meat, gardinera, pickled pepperoncini...


I could do my usual 'semi-scratch' cooking but my convenience foods could be homemade. I know home canned gardinera and pickled pepperoncini--which are both ingredients in a favorite recipe of mine-- would be much less pricey than store bought.

Small Batch canning of 'value added' foods-- convenience type foods-- would be a great money saver I think.

I am not ready to go off my Grocery Game again right now-- even if I start now to do small batch canning it will be quite a while before I can use home canned convenience foods to stock the pantry. Perhaps by time by this time next year I could be doing much less grocery shopping. It could happen. And, giving the nod to my friend Moti--I'm thinking yes, it would be more healthful too.

I don't have a pressure canner anymore. I am looking at them and doing some research. I think the Y membership idea I had a few days ago is probably going to go the way of the too pricey idea.

I just can't see it. I think what I am going to do is continue my daily walking but add in lots of stretching and some light weight work. Summer comes early here and I'll be able to get back in my own little semi-frugal pool then. :)

Purchasing a small pressure canner is probably a far more cost effective idea. I can easily shift things around to afford that, without hurting my budget and it will pay for itself. Actually if I keep a little cost chart maybe I can track how long it takes to 'pay for it'. I like that idea.

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