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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Food Frugality

I try and make as much food and drink from scratch as I can.  I think a lot of it goes back to when I was a kid - my mom always reinforced being self-reliant.  Even just little stuff, like cooking our own meals from time to time, or doing our own laundry, or pulling weeds in the backyard.

My first job was as a dishwasher, then a cook.  I learned at a very young age how to make stock, soups, sauces, roasts, fish, fowl, pasta - you name it - from scratch.  It amazed me when I went to college how many of the guys in the dorm didn't even know how to wash their own clothes!

I've been brewing my own beer for over 30 years now.  I've been making mead and hard cider for the past 9 years.  It's incredible how inexpensive making food and drink from scratch can be.  My cost to produce a great ale or lager runs about $0.37 per 12 oz serving.

OK, some might call it being cheap.  It's their loss, though.  I know exactly what is in my food.  I don't have to worry about pig eyes or "acceptable levels" of rodent droppings being in my sausage.

Did I mention it's a lot less expensive, too?

Case in point:  I always grind up my own pork for the reasons listed above.  I buy a pork butt, bone it and grind the meat.  I then roast the bones and turn it into stock.

I just bought 30 pounds of pork butt for $0.63 a pound ($18.90).  I got 12.75 pounds of ground pork.  I got 10.5 quarts of pork stock.

At my store, ground pork runs $1.80 a pound, so the pork would have cost me $22.95.  The price of stock runs anywhere from $1.50 to $2.50 a quart (unreal).  Let's call it $2.  The stock would have cost me $21.  All in, my cost would have been just under $44.

I did have some additional costs.  I sealed the pork up into 2 lb portions.  Each Food Saver bag was about 9 inches long, and they cost about $0.80 a foot.  So the bags cost me $3.60.  I home canned half of the stock into 10, 1 pint jars.  The lids for the jars were $1.90.  So, all in, my cost was $24.40, or 55.5% of "retail".

Now, someone out there is screaming, "You had to pay for the FoodSaver, the jars and the pressure canner, PLUS the time and fuel as well."

They'd be right.  But I look at the FoodSaver, the jars and the pressure canner like a business looks at equipment.  They're investments with extremenly long lifes.  Yeah, I could ammortize their cost, and include it into my calculations.  But I'm not going to.  The money on those pieces of equipment is already spent - I look at it like I'm using them for free!

Take care of your stuff, and it can last a very long time.  I'm still using some of my original beer brewing equipment!

It did take me a couple hours of my time to produce this food.  Most of it was dedicated to the boning, cubing, grinding and bagging of the ground pork.  That took about an hour.  Everything else has been, "set it and forget it".  For instance, as I'm typing this post, I'm listening to the pressure canner hiss while the stock is being preserved.

Accept The Challenge

With a little planning, skill and time management, you can save yourself a great deal of money each year on the food you eat and the beverages you drink.  You will know EXACTLY what is in your food - what spices, preservatives and quality of product will be entering your body.

And of course, there is the prepper aspect.  If some ugly scenario were to ever come about - job loss, economic collapse, food shortages in stores - you'd know how to feed yourself and your family without having to depend upon pre-packaged and processed foods.

Making your family part of the food-production chain - by growning your own veggies and raising, hunting or fishing for some or all of your own meat - makes you even less dependent on outside sources.

Copyright 2009 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Anonymous said...

TOR at total suvivalist libertarian rantfest wants to learn how to make beer. I told him he should get up with you.

Andrea said...

The 2 biggest factors that changed the way we eat; the 2008 beef recalls and the Discovery show How It's Made. We eat very, very little processed food now and rely heavily on the venison that's harvested from the woods behind our house.

Chief Instructor said...

Hermit, I need to get back in the brewing groove. I went through every drop of homebrew I had this past football season!

I'll try to remember to send him a link to my brewing site.

Andrea, I have easy access to fish, but not so much to venison or other large game. I've tried to join some buddies going hunting a number of times, but something always comes up and I have to drop out.

This needs to move up on my "to do" list!

I almost never buy ground meat - including sausage - from the store. Any product that has government sanctioned acceptible levels of feces and hair is NOT for me.

Ryan said...

Hermit beat me to the punch but I added brewing beer to my goals for this year when another 'skill' goal was found to not be practical. If you wanted to do a post on basic beer brewing equipment and methods that would be groovy. Also I may well shoot you an email at some point.