The USDA Economic Research Service recently published their 2014-2015 Food Price Outlook, and it basically says what we all have probably already noticed at the grocery store, and that is that food prices are rising.
While the USDA ERS states that food prices were relatively flat in 2013, we are noticing the crunch this year as the prices are increasing at a historical norm (about 2.8% per year since 1990), but meat prices will continue to rise due to the Texas/Oklahoma drought and the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (pork).
So I have been trying to be a bit more diligent about preparing for the price increase. While I may have to increase our grocery budget this year, but I am going to do all I can to try not to have to increase it too much.
This summer we focused on getting fresh produce in the freezer, whether it was homegrown, purchased from a farm, or on sale at the grocery store.
It is important for me to let you know that this has been a very busy summer for us, but I have managed to put up a record number of items in the freezer, and I even canned some jelly and peaches. I must say though, that the pictures of these events went away in a very unfortunate wet cell phone death (not so frugal, but never fail I made do with a free used phone).
The first thing I have been putting in the freezer is tomatoes. Yes, I do freeze them whole until I have enough tomatoes and/or time to process them. I will be cooking these down for tomato sauce that I will freeze in freezer bags.
We then made a trip to a fairly local fruit farm and were able to pick 25 lbs blueberries, 46 lbs peaches and 2 lbs blackberries. After eating blueberries fresh, adding them to yogurt and making muffins and pancakes, I froze the rest in 2 cup portions in freezer bags. I froze them on a cookie sheet before putting them in a bag, which allows me to use less than the entire package, as the berries do not stick together in the bag.
We also ate fresh peaches before canning peach halves and freezing peaches in 2 cup portions in a light simple sugar syrup.
The enormous blackberries were a blessing after spending several days picking tiny small berries in the wild around our house. My arms looked like I got in a cat fight after picking the wild berries, but they were very good in blackberry cobbler. I also used some of the big blackberries for a cobbler and then froze the rest the same way I froze the blueberries.
All in all this was a great family fun trip. We scored the berries for $1.70 a pound and the peaches for $ .99 a pound.
I did manage to blanch the okra and freeze it in bags for future use. I had heard that you can freeze the okra without blanching it (makes it easier to cut without it falling apart), but I have not tried it. Has anyone done this? Do you have any okra suggestions for me? I am pretty new to okra, but have found it easy to grow.
Our next project was to deal with 145 ears of corn. What was I thinking when I asked hubby to order 1 bag of corn, and he insisted we get 2! Crazy I know. After my back recovered from shucking, blanching, cutting the corn off cobs and packaging for the freezer, I am really glad we purchased all that corn. This cost us $40 for the 2 big bags.
Now our freezer is looking much more prepared for the months to come. I’m not done yet, I have a few other things up my sleeve to get this freezer stocked, and I plan to share those with you guys as they come around.
What are you doing in response to the rising grocery prices? Have any ideas you want to share?
making a habit out of living frugal…..
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