Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

About my canning and my blog

Yes, I really do get and use food bank food.  I’m talking about the fresh produce from the mobile food bank; not the emergency food one gets from a food pantry.  There is a big difference between the two.  I would get emergency food only if I truly needed it.

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The mobile food bank is totally different and I stand in line for the produce given away as often as I’m able.  Here’s why.  I used to have a back yard garden that supplied me with fresh produce.  I no longer have a backyard garden so the produce from the mobile food bank has become my substitute.   The mobile food bank distributes produce that is destined for a landfill because it is either blemished or soon to be outdated.  It is the very same food as you would find in the discount bins of a grocery store, minus the priced bags.  The stores donate it.  Dare to Care distributes it.  In our area the food distribution agency is called Dare to Care.  In other areas it has other names.

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This produce is perfectly good, just blemished.  If I were to pick food from a back yard garden, and it had flaws, I sure would not throw it away. I would cut off the bad part and use the rest. That’s exactly what I do with the produce we get from the mobile food bank.

The produce we get from the mobile food bank is usually in season for a short time.  Just like it would be in a back yard garden.  We get some items for 4 or 5  weeks in a row and then not again until the next season.  Those who are eating the produce, instead of preserving it, soon grow tired of eating the same thing week after week.  Especially when there is such an abundance given.

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My blog is not meant to be a recipe guide to home canning.  My posts are only meant to be a sharing of ideas for using the food bank foods.  Sharing what I do to use or preserve the food received from our local mobile food bank.  Sharing how easy it is to do food preserving for yourself while living on a limited budget.

I really do believe people should learn (or re-learn) the skill of home canning (bottling) their own foods.  Especially low income persons.  Far too many of our foods contain chemicals not meant to be consumed and too much salt and too much sugar.  The cheapest foods are the least healthy to eat and often is the food consumed by low income persons.  Learning to home can your own food means you are in control of what’s in it.

However, I must repeat, my blog is not a canning guide.  My blog is just my way of preserving.  I’ve got quite a few years of experience. If you really want to learn canning go see or call your local county extension office and request the classes.  If there are enough people in your area interested the classes will be offered.

There are some really good recipe books for learning to preserve food if you prefer to teach yourself.  Here are my favorites.

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For the very beginner there is the Ball Blue Book of Preserving.  It can be found in some grocery stores and big box retail stores for around $8.  You will find other canning supplies in these stores too. I suggest a person start with this book. Read the book really well. Especially read about the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning and the dangers of botulism.  Water bath canning is the easiest and cheapest option to start with.  Learn what foods can safely be water bath canned and what cannot.  (gosh thats a lot of “can” in that sentence)

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When you have gained some experience and are ready to expand to newer recipes these are my two other favorite canning recipe books; the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving with 400 recipes provided by the Ball canning supply company and

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So Easy to Preserve provided by the University of Georgia cooperative extension.  The recipes in these 3 books are plenty enough for me.  But I have one more that I rely heavily on too.  It is the book that came with my dehydrator.  It is the Excalibur Preserve It Naturally book.

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With those books a person can preserve just about any kind of food from the food bank or the store discount bin or their own backyard farm. My blog is more about “how easy” and “how frugal” life can be if you are willing to do for yourself.  Freezing, canning, and dehydrating for food preservation is a way to keep the in season food for the out of season times.

In season foods are at the lowest cost they will be until next year at the same time.  It makes more sense to me that a person preserve what they are able to preserve and enjoy it during the long wait for next year’s crop.

Please be safe in your effort to can your own food.



10 comments on “About my canning and my blog

  1. Nathalie
    May 31, 2015

    Ah, I didn’t realize that there was a “Ball Blue Book of Preserving” and a “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving”, thanks for explaining. I have the latter. I’ll have to check out if my library has the former and borrow it to see if it’s worth my buying it. I have an abundance of tomatoes right now and I made a batch of marinara sauce that I’m going to use in the crockpot today. I will make another batch today and I will freeze it. At some point I need to really try canning again but it’ll have to be later in the year. I have one of those new “fandangle” electronic pressure cookers (not a pressure canner) and I’m wondering if I could use it as a pressure canner for just a couple of cans but I’ve been very hesitant using it at all because I’m afraid I’m going to blow something up, lol.

    • Na Na
      June 1, 2015

      Modern day pressure cookers and canners are perfectly safe to use if you follow the correct instructions. There is a special built in safety valve meant to “blow out” should it become over heated. I believe you would ruin the cooker and possibly put a hole in your ceiling but that would be all.

      Electric pressure cookers are NOT safe for pressure canning. Canners have a way to maintain the required pounds of pressure for the correct length of time but the cookers don’t.

      I checked the USDA website for information on using electric cookers for canning. Use this link to read what the say about it. Using multi-electric cookers.

  2. Sarca
    May 31, 2015

    My Granny (RIP) would can everything. She’d make her own pickles, beets, jam…I used to remember her boiling those jars, and she’d stick her hand right in the boiling water (those hands!). She was of farmer’s stock, worked hard all her life, and pinched her pennies, just like you, Anita. I read and follow you because you do have some great penny pinching ideas, and your thoughts on that mirror hers a lot. I never learned to can because when I was old enough to be interested, she was ill and in a home. My mom rejected the old-world frugal ways, because she was raised poor and canning reminded her of how it was. Thankfully she didn’t have to worry about that as an adult and neither did I. In our economic climate, though, I think it helps to be resourceful and make a dollar go a long way. I am self-sufficient with a good stable career, and my husband too. But, this can change on a dime, and I am mindful of it, and thankful for what I have right now. I thank you for your tips and ideas that are memorialized in your blog.

    • Na Na
      June 2, 2015

      What a nice compliment, thank you. There was a time when I had quit canning too and now I can’t imagine NOT canning. The taste of food is totally different when I’m the food processor. No added fructose or chemicals I can’t spell or pronounce. 😉 I’m frugal because I have to be but I also love it.

    • Nathalie
      June 2, 2015

      Yes, yes, yes! I love your comment and whole-heartedly agree. Circumstances can change in an instant and one ought to be ready and willing to use “the old ways” to take care of themselves and their families! I also remember my grandmothers do a lot of what NaNa blogs about and I remember being a teen who couldn’t be bothered to learn how to garden, cook, sew, can, knit, etc. How I regret it now! I’m in my 40s and now trying to learn or relearn all these things, some of them (like the canning, for me) being a little scary. But I’ll get there, with help from blogs, encouragement and inspiration such as this one. My goal is to get used to living on less NOW when we still have a good income, so it doesn’t feel like a big deal when/if we have to “downsize” or when my husband retires or if we have an emergency of some kind. All that Nana shares is definitely useful.

      • Na Na
        June 3, 2015

        Thank you, that is what is intended.

  3. Cindy Nielsen
    May 30, 2015

    As always, you have good suggestions for home preserving. I am back to bottling again after some years of not bottling. It certainly feels good to bottle your own veggies. Thanks for your encouragement.

    • Na Na
      June 2, 2015

      I’m so glad to read this! Yes, it does feel good to bottle your own and the taste difference is amazing. I like your blue Dresden plate wall hanging.

  4. Linda Smith
    May 30, 2015

    Great article, you went to a lot of trouble! That’s great that they have a mobile service there. Wish we were neighbors; we’d have such fun canning together. You might be able to teach me to be a better ‘pickler’.

    • Na Na
      June 2, 2015

      I wish that too Linda. I would love to have someone live close enough to share the work and the rewards together. My neighbors are not interested in doing it themselves. They would rather I did all the work and they benefit. Not going to happen anymore. Hmm… maybe I’ll get some pickling done this year. Haven’t done any in awhile.

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