Food Storage Mistakes
11: Paying Too Much for Food
The number one reason why people pay too much for their food is because they impulse buy. That impulse may be triggered by some slick mail campaign from one of those companies that prides itself on instilling fear, or it may be caused by a lack of planning and discipline. However, paying too much for food also happens because of a lack of education.
I look at my food supplies as my own personal Wall Street—except I have a success record for coming out ahead a thousand times more often than Wall Street ever will. Why? Because of the nature of the commodity and my discipline in sticking to my price points.
The nature of the commodity, food, has NEVER decreased in value since food commerce began. That can’t be said about gold, silver, or any other investment that Wall Street pushes on our retirement fund managers. And guess what, because it’s a necessary requirement to for us to LIVE, it never will decrease in value. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t leverage our useless dollars and beat the system. I successfully do so two different ways 1) Coupons and 2) Sales.
Picture my pantry like it’s the floor of the New York Stock Exchange—except that I’m the only one yelling and carrying on, screaming “buy, buy, buy” at no one else other than the cat and three dogs. I essentially have a “Buy” order for everything consumable in my home. As soon as a product hits that Buy level, I buy and buy and buy. More importantly, I refuse to buy UNLESS that price point is met. I never, ever pay full price for anything consumable for the same reason that so many Americans buy used vehicles—they don’t want to lose a significant portion of their investment simply by driving the car off the lot. When the rare occasion arises in which I pay full price for something, I consider that a Panic Price. But if I stay focused on my goals of being self-reliant, I make the abundant advertising and marketing campaigns subsidize my food costs. They do so in the form of sales and coupons. When I snag ground beef at a killer price of only 88 cents a pound, I bring it home, can it, and put it on my shelf. Then, when I take it off of my shelf 2 years later, it’s STILL only 88 cents a pound—a phenomenon that is not likely to happen with your food costs any other way. By applying these strategies and controlling them (instead of them controlling me, like you see on TLC’s Extreme Couponing) I’ve been able to purchase soups, pastas, fruits, meats, baking supplies, hygiene products, and medical supplies at or below 1960 prices! Boy, don’t you wish you could do that with other things in your life?
12: Making Food from Scratch
Continuing along with the previous mistake, let’s take the whole “paying too much for food” to the next level. I can make two mouth-watering loaves of bread, a hearty, satisfying pizza with meat, veggies, and cheese toppings, a batch of oh, so fabulous Key Lime Cheesecake Rolls, and a small braided dessert bread that I usually give away to a neighbor for a whopping total of…ready for it…$4.32 cents. OR I can spend $4.32 on a single loaf of bread at the grocery store that won’t even begin to compare to my bread in taste, texture, and nutrition. The trick isn’t using coupons in this case, it’s going back to the kickin’, old school skillz and making it all from scratch.
Do I really need to tell you how much better food tastes when you make it yourself? Believe it or not, you can make your own mayonnaise in a matter of minutes and once you’ve done so, I doubt you’d EVER go back to the stuff in the jar that contains sugar, corn syrup, or chemical preservatives you can’t pronounce. I once had a young receptionist work for me who wasn’t sure what plant pickles came from. Why? Because creating something fabulous from a bunch of base ingredients is just unfathomable to us, but the truth of it is, it’s MUCH less expensive, it tastes better, it’s significantly more nutritious, AND more impressive (as in the multi-layered German Chocolate Cake I made from scratch the other night) AND you can actually reclaim control over what you put into your body this way. If you think about it, none of the cooking shows would be interesting if everything was made from a box or a microwave. Can you just picture it on The Iron Chef?
“Chef Rob rushes to the freezer to pick up the Hungry Man frozen entrée of chicken and dumplings. Brilliant, Chef Rob.”
But wait; it looks like Chef Suzanne is going to trump him as she opens a can of Veg-All Mixed Vegetables AND grabs a frozen Marie Calendar’s Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! This is going to be a nail biter, Folks! Will she be able to thaw the cake sufficiently to please the judges?!”
Seriously though, from a nutritional standpoint nowadays it’s becoming more and more important to control what’s going on our plates. Even when ingredients are listed on our foods, the government initials are allowing numerous omissions on the labeling or at the very least misleading labeling. Individuals with serious allergies to wheat, peanuts, and other ingredients that can trigger anaphylactic shock are to the point now that they simply can’t trust anyone else to cook for them.
Learn to make it from scratch and you’ll find peace coming your way in more ways than I can possibly share within the confines of this article.
13: Prepare to Share Your Food
It’s kind of counter-intuitive to think that a person who rarely has guests over for dinner now can actually bank on the possibility that they will in more trying times, but it’s true nevertheless. If there ever comes a time in which food is a precious commodity, you can PLAN on needing more than what you’re presently planning. As such, I suggest that you ignore any so-called expert advice that would suggest you need X number of pounds of grains for men and active women and only a smaller percentage of that X for infants and children, etc. The reason being is because the one thing that I’m certain you can rely on is that you will be thrown a curve ball, that when it comes to food, you could always use a little more. So when you’re calculating how much you need, do so based on the most ferocious appetite that you already cater to because someone, someday, is going to show up on your doorstep and you’ll want to feed them.
Case in point; my folks appeared out of nowhere one weekend. (Really, Dad? No notice when you’re flying from Ohio?). All of the sudden I had to come up with something fantastic for dinner (as Dad wouldn’t expect anything less from me.) Thank goodness I don’t know how to make a meal that would only feed two. Instead, when I make a great dish the leftovers either get claimed by my husband as his for the rest of the week, or they get canned for later use, or they are frozen for later use. Sometimes this later use may be when I do not feel like cooking anything or when I get a call from the gal in my church who’s coordinating meals to be brought over to the infirm. Either way, I’m ready for the everyday events, and as such I’m prepared for the more serious events as well. You’d really be surprised how quickly these little extras add up. After our first year of marriage with me cooking sporadically due to the travel necessary with my work at the time, I had a year’s supply of ready-made meals just by following this strategy.
Think of it this way. On average American households throw away $500 worth of groceries per year. If I preserve our leftover food right away for the long-term, instead of waiting for the leftovers to go bad as a result of my husband’s case of Appetite Fatigue, then that can translate into at least $500 worth of meals that I can accumulate throughout the year without any extra money coming out of my pocket. Based on the strategies I’ve shared earlier, that $500 can go a long, long way towards feeding delicious, comforting food.
14: Throwing Food Out Too Soon
I wish people would understand that expiration dates, warnings, and a whole lot of well-intentioned guidance with regards to viable shelf-life of our foods is very, very wrong, misleading, and in some cases, suspect. For example, there have been numerous DECADES of homemakers canning foods and “putting them up” for years at a time and yet if you read the panicked guidance of a certain chef which shall remain nameless, she’s have you believe that canned foods aren’t safe to consume further out than a year from the date of canning. Additionally, the instructions on the outside of the box of canning jars actually state that foods are to be canned for only 1 year’s time. This in spite of the fact that this nation’s “greatest generation” was raised on homemade canned foods. Forget the fact that a homemaker is more likely to be more attentive and mindful of safely canning foods at home than a minimum wage worker who oversees hundreds of thousands of canned products in a manufacturing plant. I can assure you that the mothers and grandmothers who can their foods care more about the health and well-being of those who would eat it than does the blue collar worker who’s distracted with burgeoning debt, increasing social unrest, and a host of other problems working for just enough pay to make it until the next payday, right?
In addition, we also have the “best buy” dates, “expiration dates” and all kinds of dates and lot numbers on our food nowadays that practically threaten an international pandemic if we have the temerity to use a food product past any of these dates. In our rationale we assume that such dates are crafted for the safety and well-being of the consumer when in fact such dates are only relevant to the consumer in terms of how soon can we be convinced to purchase the product again. These dates have NOTHING to do with food safety. The USDA has no such guidelines for the labeling of foods with expiration dates. After all, think of all of the foods you purchase that don’t have any date on them such as those bananas and strawberries you bought that went bad faster than you could consume them. You didn’t see any “expiration dates” on those, did you? Expiration dates only serve the purposes of protecting a company from litigation, ensuring you get their best foot forward with regard to taste, and ensuring that you’ll throw it out and repurchase soon. After all, in order to put a proper expiration date on a food product, the manufacturer would have to know exactly HOW you’re going to protect that product, right? We all know that heat, light and humidity dramatically affect the shelf-life of a food, and yet we don’t see different expiration dates for Atlanta Georgia than we see on the same food product in Kenai, Alaska, right?
I’ve been doing this long enough that I know that I can go a long, long ways out beyond the “best buy” date even on the foods which have a reputation for going bad quickly such as brown rice, nuts, and herbs. It’s all just a matter of controlling the environment in which I protect them.
So, keep this in mind as you’re utilizing your hard-earned purchases. Control the environment for your foods so that you can control their shelf-life. Don’t let some guy behind a desk make that decision for you. Your pocketbook will thank you.
15: Rely on Your Own Research
This goes along with the previous point. There are SO many SAFE and HEALTHY ways nowadays to protect and preserve and grown your own food, etc. thanks to even better technology and the application of old-fashioned tried and true techniques. Unfortunately though, the application of many of these techniques rub others the wrong way either because they have a financial interest in you doing things their way or it threatens their ego that’s buoyed up with their formal education. And, I’m sorry to even be able to say this, but the fact is there is opposition to the applications of wisdom in our food simply because of political issues. This is a very, very serious component that will affect how you become more self-reliant in this area of your life. Nowadays the food you eat serves only one of two purposes—it will harm your body, or it will help your body. That being the case, don’t you think it’s important that YOU rely on YOUR own research and conclusions rather than investing in the tripe of others?
I frequently am berated for my villainous acts of canning butter, waxing hard cheeses, preserving eggs with mineral oil, and yes, heaven forbid, canning meat. And don’t even get me started with the criminal act of drinking raw milk and using it to make other dairy products. But understand that when I do so, it brings me a great deal of peace, knowing that what I’m providing for others and my own health. I do so after a great deal of research (Mental Preparedness) and as listening to my gut (aka Spiritual Preparedness). The fact of the matter is, those who have taken it upon themselves to ostensibly protect us are imperfect. Unfortunately they tend to be imperfect more often than accurate if you look at history. (Remember when cigarettes were actually recommended by doctors? Remember when palm oils were vilified by the canola oil industry? Remember when all fat was bad for you? How about the fact that a chemical maker is NOT being required to go through FDA approval to impact your food but Cheerios is having to sue just so that they can continue to say that their cereal is good for your cholesterol? Oh, how about the whole “a pound of fat weighs more than a pound of muscle…hello! They both weigh a pound!) Unfortunately time will reveal many more dogmas that we’ve taken hook line and sinker which were perpetuated with ulterior, and even sinister motives. Supplements will soon be vilified as will nearly any other alternative health care that’s not administered by a doctor. (One man is actually being prosecuted for sharing his story about how he cured his own cancer. He’s not telling anyone else how to do it, he’s simply sharing how HE did it for himself. The FDA and the annual 50 billion dollar cancer research industry doesn’t take kindly to that, though.)
I frequently hear the question “do I need to wax the cheese that is already waxed in the grocery store?” My answer is always YES because that’s not even cheese wax on that brand. It’s nothing more than a marketing aesthetic to make them stand out and be associated with a more “pure and wholesome” kind of cheese. But more importantly, my answer is based on this principle: “Do you really want to trust someone else with preserving the food that your family will rely on long-term.”
When it comes right down to it, no one will be more motivated to care for your family’s nutrition and comfort needs better than you. So put the time in, establish baselines that you’re comfortable allowing others do for you by doing a little research, and then do what you need to do to be absolutely certain that you’re doing what’s best for those you love. That’s how peace comes and that’s what we’re all preparing for, right?
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