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.
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.
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 The mobile food bank distributes produce that is destined for a landfill because it is either blemished or soon to be outdated.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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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.
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.