This guest post is by Ladyhawthorne and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.
Canning your own food. It’s not that hard and can be done for a minimal investment. There are plenty of articles and books that go into the actual process so I will not repeat that here. What I will tell you is how to fill your pantry with canned meals you can eat right out of the jar if need be.
I’ve been canning pretty much continuously for over 20 years and grew up helping my mother and grandmother can. I am also single and that puts a little different spin on things. I have learned a lot from years of living on a very small budget, about 15 years ago I lived on $600-$700 a month and rent was half of that. I don’t garden at this time and all my food has to come from the store.
I quite regularly will buy items that are on sale or marked way down and can them when I get home so they have a longer shelf life, this includes fruits and vegetables in cans. As a single person most of my food is canned in pints, broths and juices in quarts and fruits I usually put in half pints as single servings. I live in hurricane country so I don’t like to keep much in the freezer. When I lose electricity due to a storm it’s usually for a week or longer and since this house is all electric I have to cook over the firepit or eat it cold.
The one item I have the most of in my pantry is soup. Every time I make soup or chili I make a big pot of it. There’s just no way for me to make a small pot when I’m tossing in all my bits and pieces. I usually start with the leftovers from a roast or chicken or turkey. I may have meat or not, sometimes I use the last of the container of tomato juice as a base. I use up the fresh vegetables I have on hand, especially those nearing their end of freshness.
I will often add frozen or canned vegetables and dry beans to fill out the soup. I add whatever spices suit my fancy that day. So you can see that every pot is different, a never ending variety of flavors. I rarely use a recipe for soup or stew. You may think cold soup sounds unappetizing but try gazpacho or cold borscht with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt sometime, you will change your mind.
For canning you don’t want the soup too thick, you can always add a cornstarch thickener when you reheat it for eating. I will have several meals from the pot before I can the balance of it and those jars of soup are great to put in a container for lunch at work. Some of the soups I currently have are beef vegetable, chicken vegetable, ham & beans (like bean w/bacon), beef noodle, beef barley, chicken & rice, gumbo, split pea, and chili. Some of these are great thickened and poured over rice or noodles.
The next item I have a lot of is canned chicken. I pick up chicken breast (it’s what I prefer) when it is on sale usually for 99¢ a pound. This is with the bone and skin. I boil it in a large pot with diced onions and celery, shredded carrots and a bay leaf or two, salt & pepper.
The chicken gets stripped from the bone and the meat goes in pints in chunks and the broth poured over it. You can make chicken salad, tacos, burritos and casseroles galore. It’s probably the cheapest meat and will go far. Again, you could eat this right out of the jar if need be. The left over broth with the seasoning vegetables gets canned in quarts for future soup making.
Beef or pork roast leftovers can be canned in chunks in broth also. Pork is excellent if shredded and canned with barbecue sauce, instant pulled pork. You may have seen where folks can bacon but have you seen where you can dry can sausage links and hot dogs, hamburger and sausage patties or crumbles? It works wonderfully well and you can eat it right out of the jar in an emergency if you have nothing to heat it with.
Basically I can most of the meals I prepare and eat. You can easily put some meat and 2 vegetables in a jar with some broth and when you open it drain the broth into a pan to make gravy. A great quick meal in a single jar.
One last thing I can a lot of is salsa. I buy large cans of tomatoes on sale or the #10 cans of tomatoes and using my food processor I combine the tomatoes with fresh onions, jalapenos, cilantro and lemon or line juice. Add some salt and fill up the pints. I love salsa and use it on and in lots of things including casseroles, soups, goulash and chili.
I hope this article helps you to think outside the box or box meals to another way to have emergency meals that are ready to eat, some without heating, on a budget.
This contest will end on December 16 2012 – prizes include:
- First Place winner will receive a Go Berkey Kit water filter valued at $150 and a copy of my book “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness ” and a copy of “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat“.
- Second Place: $150 gift certificate for Magtech Ammo.
- Third Place: $50 Cash.