Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Canning Meals Now to Save Money Later

Today is the last day of September. The days are comfortable and the nights are cool. This is a great time of year to can some food for the winter. While the opportunity to can the summer veggies has past, you can still can fully prepared meals to add to your food storage.

There are two major benefits to canning food now. First, and most obvious, it is cooler. Heating up the kitchen isn't a big deal right now. (Just compare the experience to canning back in August!). The second reason is less immediately obvious- you will save money.

Yes, preparing food at home almost always saves money. No surprise there. However, in a month or so, the utility companies will be raising their rates. Soon, it will cost more to turn on the stove regardless if you use gas or electric. By canning prepared meals right now, you can take advantage of the lower seasonal utility rates. When you are ready to eat, all you have to do is reheat the meal, which will use much less power when rates are at their highest, than to cook from scratch. Not to mention, it will save you time as well.

Consider making double or triple batches of cheap meals, and canning the surplus. Assuming you have a pressure canner (not a pressure cooker), you can safely can recipes containing low-acid veggies, as well as meat and dairy. Some meals to consider are chili, American chop suey, and all types of soups. I canned the leftovers from a pork roast I made in the crock pot, and it turned out beautifully.

A pressure canner is a one-time expense. The glass jars, unless you break them, are also a one time expense. The cost of new lids are ridiculously cheap. If you have a little extra money, you can purchase jars with rubber gaskets and clamps, and then you don't have to worry about buying new lids each year. You can purchase all these supplies for around $300, which isn't much when compared to a week's worth of groceries from the store.

Of course, if you cook on a wood cook stove, it is not advisable to use a pressure canner. But, if you're cooking on wood, you're not paying a utility bill in the first place.

Quick political note: spending less with the utility companies means less associated tax money the government collects. Each utility pays taxes associated with the operation of their business. You, the end user, is ultimately the source of revenue that pays those taxes. I don't know anyone who thinks the government has done a good job of managing our money. I would just as soon not volunteer to give the government any more money than I am absolutely required to do. That would be like giving an irresponsible teenager a credit card with no limit. I think it is far more patriotic to save the resources to shore up the security of our family. Your mileage may vary.

Live better, a little every day.

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