Shelf Life

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!

4 grain cereal

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.

bag of rice

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.

4 grain cereal with cinnamon and apples

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.

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6 Responses to Shelf Life

  1. meemsnyc says:

    These are great strategies for saving money. We also buy in bulk, buy bags of rice, and for the first time we bought a 10 pound bag of flour. I kinda laughed when we brought it home because I kept thinking, how am I going to go through a whole 10 pound bag, well, I’m now more than half way through it, so it gets used and it’s half the price of buying the 1 pound bags! I love that you make your own granola. Yummy.

    • Villager says:

      We go through a lot of flour here too. I’m still working on getting a good source for buying it in volume. It is readily available here in bulk, and I get some of it that way.

  2. Mike says:

    We love our basmati rice too, ours is brown rice though. I was amazed at how much longer white rice can be stored compared to brown, I had know idea…30 years, amazing. So one of our favorite ways to eat basmati rice is with little chunks of fried gold nugget squash…you will have to try it sometime if you have not already, it’s really good that way.:)

    • Villager says:

      We like the brown basmati too. We get it in bulk. I’ve never tried it with the Gold Nugget squash though. I’ll have to talk to the chef about that! 😉

  3. I read some of the warnings about food prices going up yesterday. I already get angry walking around a grocery store seeing a loaf of bread for $5 or milk for $3.50. The staples are so expensive already. It did make me think though that once the greenhouse is up, it will help pay for itself that much faster. Definitely motivating to grow what we can, and to be diligent about preserving our harvests as best we can too.

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