One thing for sure, I’m all about eating good and saving money at the same time. While the headlines scream almost daily about rising food prices, our food budget at HA has been going down every year since we combined our households back in 2007. At the same time, we have been steadily improving the quality of the food we eat. How do we do that?
One way we save is by growing a lot of our own vegetables and fruit. That saves us quite a bit of money, though it’s hard to put an exact price on the true value of what we grow. While we do have farmer’s markets that offer a variety of locally grown goodness, nothing beats homegrown for freshness and flavor!
Another way we save money is buying in bulk. We have a local natural foods store and a co-op that sell a variety of grains, beans and baking ingredients in bulk. One of our new favorites is this 4 grain cereal that is a mix of rolled oats, wheat, barley and rye. It makes a great hot cereal, plus it can sub for rolled oats in our homemade granola and granola bars.
Another thing we do is buy in quantity. This week I bought a 15 pound bag of white basmati rice. Now, we try and eat as many whole grains as we can, but we haven’t banned things like white rice entirely. And we do like the delicate flavor of the white basmati. It’s certainly not local, but then there aren’t going to be any local sources for any kind of rice for us here in the Midwest U.S.
We do keep a good supply of brown rice on hand, but it has a much shorter shelf life due to the oils present in the germ and bran layers. We try and use up brown rice within six months of purchase. On the other hand, white rice keeps for a very long time. When stored in a cool area in an oxygen-free sealed container in can keep for up to 30 years.
This rice won’t be around that long, probably more like 3-4 years. But by buying it now we have locked in 2011 prices, and we have added to our supply of on hand food items. I’m not necessarily worried about TEOTWAWKI, but earthquakes and storms are common in our area, and it pays to be prepared.
I cooked up some of the 4 grain cereal for breakfast this morning, adding some dried apples, cinnamon and a splash of maple syrup. It didn’t last long at all – maybe five minutes!
We won’t be totally immune from rising food prices, for sure, but our strategies should help to minimize sticker shock when we go shopping for food items.