Jacob and I have been meaning to get out to the cannery. We really like being prepared, and although I love our Sam’s membership, they don’t sell beans or wheat. I talked Jacob into a short 3 month supply because I really didn’t want to move a year’s supply of food (like he wanted), and we have a lot of food stored, stuff we regulary rotate, that could probably help us last for 6 months. Anyway, Jacob was very excited about the idea that professionals packed our storage so it could actually last the 30 years that is claimed. I personally do not want to haul around these boxes for 30 years but I think it is wise to have some emergency food.
So we bought all this for ~$250:
The boxes constitute the minimum food necessary for 2 people for 3 months, the flour is just an add-on we needed. I must admit, I’m happy we have them. But I am also excited to start stocking up on some things that will make life pleasant for those three months, not just bearable. I mean we do have things to make bread, necessity but also yummy, and cookies, 72+ oz of chocolate chips, I think some more tomatos and sauce to go with our pasta, and some variety in vegetables, past canned peas, corn and green beans, but it’s a good start, eh?
It was a cost that was hard to swallow but it was definitely cheaper that we spend on even 2 months of food, and it gives a feeling of preparation. And although we did jump in with food storage, it was not our first time near the “water”, we’ve been buying extras of canned goods since before we were married and we did not go into debt just to gather these things we came to feel were necessities.
Although they were a bit too tall to fit under our bed, we found a home for them under my hugely tall craft table, yay! We use the half gallon mason jars to store the flour we got from Sam’s. It is perfect for our bread flour because the jar holds exactly what I use to make bread, amazing.
I’m really working hard to incorporate beans into our every day diet. Yesterday we put a can of kidney beans, warmed, on our taco salads. Oh they were so yummy! I’m really struggling with trying to figure out what to do with beans! I love chili and I have enjoyed making Cajun Red Beans Lite (I’m not the hugest fan of spicy). But what else to do with them? I still need to do some research. Everyone talks about puting them on salads but beans cold, that does not sound appealing to Jacob and I. I don’t mind cooking them with some meat and onions, maybe making a bit of soup. But I’ll have to see if I can find some more ideas. I loved the warm beans on the salad though!
Oh and btw, popped wheatberries do not equal popped corn kernals. >.<
Jacob and I love making our own pizza. I started making it with my normal bread recipe, with dough that was left over because 2 people do no need 3 loaves of bread everytime. But he was unhappy with the texture so I went searching for a good one. We love the idea of the no-rise pizza dough, as we are both pretty impatient, especially Jacob and if I’m lucky enough to get him in the kitchen I want to keep him there! I found the recipe here, but it makes two pizzas for us, so here is the “half recipe” or the recipe for one pizza pie dough.
- 1/2 T yeast
- 3/4 C water
- 1 T sugar
- 1 1/2 T oil
- 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 C flour (it’s always an estimate, especially when adding in wheat flour).
Proof the yeast in warm water with some sugar for energy. Add the oil, then mix in enough flour for the dough to not be sticky, like any bread. Then knead the dough until it is smooth. One might let it rest for a bit, but we just roll it right out on our counter then transfer it to a corn-mealed pizza stone. Top with favorite toppings. Bake at 375 F for 20-25 minutes.
One awesome thing about breads is that ingredients are always on hand (at least in my house). The toppings are where a shopping trip might be in order…or not. One day I made dough, just to realize that we were out of mozzarella cheese, oh no! But we always have a 2 lbs block of cheddar sitting in the fridge, yeah we love that cheese. I was so worried it would ruin our dinner, having that yellow mess on our pizza, but it turns out using what you have can lead to great discoveries. Cheddar, Ham, and Pepperoni are our new favorite toppings. Jacob never liked ham on a pizza without pineapple but he is now converted! Be sure to experiment explore and toss some veggies on there too.
Jacob has always been set on getting a membership to one of the nearby HUGE stores. I really feel they have no other name, they are huge, everything they sell is huge, you get the picture. So early in our marriage, before school started, I went shopping, price shopping. I walked all over both Sam’s and CostCo, we have both in the same main shopping area 30 minutes away, and wrote down the prices of the things we could possibly want. This is a very important part, you cannot forget to do this at the store you normally shop at as well, which for our non-fresh food happens to be walmart.
After price comparing, and having a bad experience at Costco, we bought our Sam’s club membership. Online we saw they had a wonderful reward for students wanting a membership: $15 gift card. Sweet. That made the price the same for a CostCo or Sam’s membership and I feel more comfortable at Sam’s, and they sell cheap gas there for Jacob. But when we bought the membership the lady claimed they just stopped doing the student membership. We bought it anyway, but Jacob complained to corporate because their website was then wrong. And they said just go back in and we will fix it. We got our gift card from Sam’s for being a student, and they had another, newer offer and gave us the money for both of them. Therefore, we only had to save about $10 this year to pay for the extra membership expense.
We really love our membership. Jacob stops there on the way home from work for gas. I love buying my meat, cheese, milk, and cereal there. Those are our best finds.
We eat a lot of meat for two people so this was an important thing to look at, Sams for some reason has the most reasonable meat. Ground Lean Beef (90/10), which is the kind we perfer, is found there cheaper than the Walmart 85/15. And as we have found out on another trip we can get about-to-expire meat even cheaper at Sam’s too.
Dairy is something else we fly through. We eat cold cereal nearly every morning for breakfast, sometimes I switch it up for Jacob and make him eggs. We discovered the name brand milk (2% is around $2.30) for a whole dollar cheaper than the Walmart brand, and sometimes milk is found closer to four dollars! We also lover our cheddar. They sell the big 2 lb blocks for a fraction of the unit price found elsewhere. And with cheddar you can make it last longer in the freezer, if you don’t think you can use the entire block soon.
Cereal can be up to 10 cents less per oz. One draw back is you have to buy two bags at once of any given cereal. But we go through cereal so fast we do not mind. Frosted Mini Wheats, Life, and Honey Nut Cheerios are some of our favorites. And you just rotate which one you use, unless it is life which both bags get used before a different kind is opened!
We manage to find other ways to save money, buying a huge 25 lbs bag of flour for the price of only two 5 lbs bags. Or buying spaghetti sauce in three packs to save a few cents per unit as well as stock up on some food storage.
A few words of warning that we have run into:
- Check the use by date, always! Can you really eat 12 packages of saltines in 2 months? Some items have great dates, but it really depends on your situation and affinity for the product.
- Some things are not a deal. This is especially true if you are an avid coupon clipper. Fruit in winter is not very cheap at Sam’s and can usually be found cheaper elsewhere. In general, check your prices on a regular basis, or at least a seasonal basis.
- Here today, gone tomorrow. Do not depend on what the store will have in stock. Each Sam’s get different deals and they all have rotating inventory. And every time I’ve been in there I’ve heard at least 2 people say to their spouse/shopping buddy, “They move stuff around every time I come here, I can never find anything.” I haven’t personally had that problem, but apparently others have.
Maybe a membership could be right for you, it truely depends on your circumstances, it might make more sense if you have 4 kids than if it is just the two of you. But I love not having to go meat shopping every week, because we keep a month’s supply in the freezer. It is definitely worth a look.
Once when I asked Jacob for a meal idea he immediately wanted chili, like his mom makes. He got her recipe; I believe there is a lot of experimenting still to be done but here is her original suggestion:
- 1 can of kidney beans (15.5 oz)
- 1 can of chili beans (15.5 oz)
- 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
- chili powder (sprinkle some in)
- 1 can diced tomatoes (12 oz)
- 1 onion
- 1 lb-ish Hamburger, cooked
Those were our instructions. Throw it all in, let it go all day. The end.
Well O.K., I like the idea but I’ve run with it a bit. I like the amount of tomatoes but we wanted less liquid, and more beans. In my most recent episode of chili, I actually soaked some dry black beans (1 lb) over night and threw them in as well. I’m very new to this bean thing, so I didn’t realize I also needed to cook the beans, they were a bit hard but the chili is still fine to eat. We made the mistake of trying to fix the liquid and bean issues at the same time, which resulted in a very thick chili, not a problem per se but I will leave in all the juices the next time I add beans (but not the bean’s cooking water).
I like to cook the onion with the meat before throwing it in. This could loose some of the flavor to the chili because some flavor is lost in the juices/fats removed, but if I have to cook the meat, I might as well throw in the onion. That is just a personal preference.
I think in my next iteration I would like to maybe add more vegetables like celery, if I have any at the time. I would also like to normalize my addition of chili powder, Jacob says it never has enough so I will start with 1 Tablespoon, and work from there.
In general we really love this recipe for a start, I love that I don’t have to add water or a ton of seasonings. And Jacob only had to buy 8 cans of kidney beans to get sent a free stuffed bean, yay for food storage and free toys. Seriously, I do love that all these ingredients are storable, so as long as we have power, or a fire we can made some chili with all our canned beans and tomatoes.