Though there are various ways to save on meals, a good start is to reduce waste. Wasting meals is something most people are often guilty of, without even knowing it.
Whether it is not closing the package properly and allowing moisture to get in, or having good intentions and not cooking or eating all those vegetables and fruit you bought – food spoils. And depending on where you live, pests in the pantry may be the biggest waste culprit.
There are storage options that you can consider, some of which are more economical than others. You can learn and practice better meal management and educate the whole family about storing fresh and canned foods properly.
How much food to store depends on several factors, including your household budget, whether you often get unexpected guests, and the size of your family. If you live in a remote area, you may need to keep a larger stock on hand to avoid long grocery trips.
No one can argue that buying bulk can save you money in the long-term, but only if you can safely store the extra quantities and avoid waste. Whatever amount of food you decide to store, you should store it safely in proper storage containers.
When it comes to emergency planning, you should have a good stock of non-perishables on hand for every member of the household, for several days if need be. This is extremely important for those with special dietary needs.
Some like to plan their grocery budget for a whole year to better manage their expenses. A family can calculate how much rations they need in a year with a food storage calculator you enter your family’s information into.
For those that put up food from their own garden or enjoy the abundance of locally-grown farms, canning, home preserving, or drying foods may be the best options and these tips can help get you started. Glass jars are a great way to preserve fresh produce.
They are versatile, easy to wash, transparent, and useful for a variety of dry foods. These include flour, sugar, rice, pasta, dried legumes, fruit or nuts, as well as cookies and treats.
Canisters can be handy on the counter and suitable for smaller amounts for short-term use. The main thing to remember when buying glass or ceramic jars is that the lid should be secure to provide an airtight seal, keep moisture and pests out and that the opening is adequate for easy removal of contents.
Choose plastic containers that are freezer and microwave safe if applicable. Always consider the opening, and ensure that it is adequate for easy removal and that the lid is snug and secure.
Not all plastic containers are water-tight, which would be preferred for lunch bag soups or stews. For long-term storage, storing in vacuum-sealed bags or containers is preferred to keep meals fresher longer and to avoid waste from freezer-burn.
It is important for emergency or disaster kits to have on hand at least three days of water for each family member. Buying bottled water may be the most convenient, but if you are using plastic containers to store up water, they should be BPA-free, stored in a dark, cool location and remember to refresh your stock at least every six months.
If you buy plastic, choose only BPA-free products for personal water bottles, toddler cups or baby bottles. Stainless steel bottles are recommended for water bottles, because plastics can break down especially when exposed to heat and sunlight.
Glass is the preferred choice for baby bottles. Glass canning jars can be used to freeze, but you have to allow at least an inch for expansion and it is not unusual to have an occasional broken jar.
There’s a tendency to keep herbs, spices, dressings, condiments and dips forever, without thought as to how old they are. Herbs and spices should be refreshed periodically as they can become stale and ineffective.
Adhere to the expiry dates shown on prepared bottles and jars, discard and replenish your stock. Breads or buns stored on top of the refrigerator or on the counter can dry out quickly and increase the clutter in your kitchen.