Saturday, March 12, 2011

Meal Planning and Food Storage

I plan my meals a month in advance. I even put it down on a calendar and post it on the wall. You may be wondering why anyone would do that but the answer is really simple. I hate to cook. I have been told I am a good cook, but I don't like to do it. My menu's used to be simple and full of repeats. Dinner time would come and I would dread the inevitable "MOM, what's for dinner?" Realizing we were out of something or I forgot to defrost the meat. We ended up eating a lot of packaged food or even fast food.

Then a couple of things happened. First, I found out I was diabetic. I had gestational diabetes with my last pregnancy and although I was no longer insulin dependant my tests were borderline and I needed a controlled diet. Second, the economy hit our house. Suddenly we were not sure if we would have a business or another dollar for anything including food. It was painfully obvious we were not being good stewards of the blessings God had given us. The food I had in my home would last my large family maybe a week or two. The thought of the money I had spent on convenience and that convenience could be costing me my health was humbling.

I started a search on meal planning and eventually on food storage. I was so blessed to stumble on two blogs that changed my way of thinking and cooking forever. "Food Storage Made Easy" is a wonderful site hosted by two friends. They have a e-book about food storage and how to cook with it. You can check them out here. "Everyday Food Storage" is a blog about cooking with food storage. She has step by step videos and great recipes. Check her out here.

I ordered the e-book and really like it.

The binder is a step by step guide to getting your pantry in order. They help you analyze your menu's and assemble a shopping list. From that list you develop a 3 month supply and build from there. They also talk about rotating food and making sure nothing goes bad. The ladies from both of these sites are LDS so they have food storage items available to them that I don't but I was easily able to substitute from my market. They also have a bunch of recipes that utilize the food you store.

This has totally revolutionized the way we cook, eat and live. Everything I cook now is from scratch. Sounds hard but it isn't. That means we eat much healthier, no preservatives or additives. We eat cheaper because the bulk basics are much less expensive than the prepackaged items. I am also getting much healthier. I have lost a lot of weight without much effort and I have no issues with my blood sugar today. The other change is that I am enjoying cooking much more. In the last few months we have added about 20 new recipes and are loving the experiments, even the "gross" ones. Cooking and eating has become a family affair and my kids brag my bean cookies are better than any store brand.

Today I have a full 3 month supply of food and I am working to a 6 month supply. This means if the recession were to become a depression or we had an earthquake or flood I am set to feed my family, our regular diet, for more than 3 months without a trip to the store. The farm is an advantage here because we would also have fresh dairy and meat if we needed it.

I am looking forward to continuing this adventure by learning to tame my poison thumb and grow a garden, learning to can, and grinding my own grain. I think these tools are being forgotten in our society and I am finding joy in myself and in my children while we learn them together.