Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bulk Food Series - Part 4, General Meal Plans and Canning

Your food has arrived, your pantry is clean and stocked, and your children are standing in the middle of the kitchen wailing “There’s no food here!!! Just a bunch of weird ingredients!!! Where are the Doritos? I want a sandwich!” Your husband is whistling the Sicily’s Pizza jingle. The nursing baby and the dog are the only ones not freaking out.

This will happen if you don’t have a plan. The biggest help is to have supper made in advance the first night. Something in the crockpot, something warm and familiar and that everyone in your family loves. Pickup day is always a lot of work and you really don’t want to cook that night. Pot roast is my go-to meal for this unless I have a chicken pot pie or a pan of enchiladas or lasagna in the freezer.

Hopefully, you have a meal plan for the following week or two or four so that you can relax over supper with your family as soon as everything is put away and then tackle the actual cooking the following day. Plan on something easy like eggs and toast for breakfast- quick to make, quick to clean, and not a lot of prep. Then decide which big tasks you want to tackle first. With a large produce order for canning, that will be my priority.

Canning: doubling and tripling jam recipes has never worked well for me so I have to do one recipe at a time. 72 lbs of berries should net me 60 pints of jam. In a perfect world, I would use only local honey, fruit and Pomona pectin but to stretch my spendy fruit, spendy honey, and spendy pectin I will also be using some organic apple juice. Jam will eat an entire day of my life but this is a once-a-year occurrence. When I’m buying jam, I’m spending about $8 per week or $416 a year. The cost of ordering berries, pectin, jars, and shipping will come to about $225. I save $190 or a savings wage of $24 an hour. Those numbers will improve the following year when I won't have to purchase so many jars. Not bad for a day’s work!

Other canning tasks: Pickles! Unlike jams, pickles can be doubled and tripled. I’ll spend another day making pickles, pickle relish, and canning grated carrots and zucchini.

One day later in the fall, I’ll spend a day making gifts and beef stock. I used to order the Pacific Naturals organic beef stock from Azure (costco only carries the chicken flavor) but then I discovered that it contains autolyzed yeast extract which is another name for a form of MSG. Sigh. I’m sure the homemade stuff is nutritionally superior but sometimes those convenience products are just so darned convenient! I plan to cook my stock down to something more like demi-glace than stock to save space. I’m also planning to caramelize enough onions to give me 12 lovely quarts of onion soup base.

Ketchup takes little time to can but a lot of time to simmer. Days and days. I’m shooting for 10 quarts this year.


AKmamaOf6 said...

Sheesh! You put me to SHAME! I gotta try this katchup thing, oh wait, WE CAN'T JUST GROW TOMATOES HERE!!! Where do you get your juice?

Don't undrestimate the fact that you're kids are learning a ton from you doing all of this too.

Steph said...


Last year I bought a case of tomatoes on sale from Azure. When they arrived they were pretty much 'done'- hence the super sale price. I ran then through the food mill and then bought a case of the canned organic tomato puree at Costco to add in. It was really easy. If I can find a second cheapo crock pot at the thrift store I'll get one of those for the simmering down part.

In the same order as my tomatoes, I also ordered 40 lbs of pickling cukes which didn't come in. That was a big disappointment. hopefully I'll have better luck this year. My tomato plants have- shockingly- survived but something is eating them and I have no fruit.