For a many years now, my family has gotten used to reaching for a jar or Ziploc bag instead of a box to make their convenience foods. Every year I add a new process to my repertoire of kitchen “gadgets” to make these choices even fresher; first canning, then dehydrating, and so on. Preserving my fresh foods has become a way of life for me and my family.
I did this because I was sick of being sick. I read an article on preservatives and additives in food that got me thinking. What if I changed my foods to a healthier, more natural way of eating? I threw my hat in the ring and decided that it could not hurt.
I started out slowly, using up what I had. As I emptied the sugars and the white flours, I replaced them with healthier versions that I had researched first. When the last box of Hamburger Helper went into the garbage, I learned to make pantry equivalents of my own.
Initially it was hard…almost like going on a diet. And the time I was spending in the kitchen increased drastically, but I determined to find a way to make this work. And I did. I no longer support big companies like Monsanto and their subsidiaries, I shop the outsides of the grocery stores, spend time with the sales ads for whole food stores, visit my Amish store, and go to my Farmer’s Market in the area. And Amazon LOVES me! Am I totally chemical free? Not yet, but as they say, I have come a long way baby!!!
For me, making my OWN bulk dry mixes (like batches of homemade cake mix, Bisquick, Hamburger Helper, potatoes au gratin, dry soups plus a lot more…even my own spice and seasoning blends) has saved me TONS of time and I found I am able to save money on my grocery bills. Making your own pantry supplies is definitely one way to shave those dollars!
Additionally, learning other methods of preserving has given me and my family a healthier way to eat. Dehydrating and canning have both opened up a whole new world of shelf-stable, fresh foods for my cooking needs. It has allowed me to send my husband, who works on the road in railroad engineering, to work each week with foods he can just add water to and warm up in his hotel microwave with little or no effort. His breakfasts and lunches consist of foods thrown into a thermos with hot water. While he is working, his meal is “cooking”. We feel better and enjoy more food variety now. I cook from all cuisines and countries, so dinner is never boring.
My trash bins are not overflowing anymore. I find my recycle bins are freer of garbage too. It makes me proud to know I am not adding to the landfill problems. I spend far less time grocery shopping and never have to run out for that “forgotten item”. My pantries are always full of just the items I need to whip up a meal; usually in less than a half hour!
Besides the unwelcome preservatives and chemicals and additives, I have also been able to gear each new recipe towards my dietary needs and the needs of my family and friends. Gluten-free? No problem. Diabetic? Piece of sugar-free cake. Need more whole grains for fiber? Change out your flours or add nut products. Allergic to milk, nuts, or eggs? There are many alternatives. Low Salt diet? Lots of alternatives for that too.
And for kids? My son does not miss his brownies or cookies or fruit roll-ups because the boxes in the cupboard have been replaced with healthier, more nutritious foods that I can only hope will stay with him for the rest of his life. He is taught the value of good foods and still eats his share of “junk food”, but now it is homemade by Mom!
One of my favorite parts is being able to share my research, learning, and recipes.To be allowed into your homes and kitchens is a privilege and an honor. That you trust me to help you in your search for fresh foods humbles me. I had to do this alone and I determined that you should not have to. So I share what I have learned with all of you. I hope you can take what is usable for you and run with it, whatever the reason for your path in food health and safety. I just ask that you please “pay it forward”, sharing what you learn and the recipes and information on this website with others. You may never receive a thanks, but you will be changing lives for the better!
Even if you think I have totally lost it and are not ready to jump into the lifestyle I have chosen, dry mixes also come in handy as a substitution for out-of-stock items when you’re in a pinch. This is a win-win situation, no matter the reasoning behind it.
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