Finding a natural solution
In the early years of my marriage, when months were longer than money, I had to learn how to save money, especially on groceries. Living with my parents, I hadn’t realized how much food actually costs when it didn't come from your backyard! That first trip through the canned foods aisle and meat department was truly an eye opener, let me tell you. Here are some of the ways I learned how to save money.
Early on, I researched how I could save money on our grocery bill. Finding the day old bread store was amazing. I had no idea you could buy bread so inexpensively—and to me it still tasted great. As our family expanded, and we invested in a chest freezer, I would buy marked-down bread to store in order to avoid multiple trips to the store. Making your own bread is great, but when you don't have time, finding a bread store near you helps you keep bread, rolls, buns and more on hand.
I also discovered salvage stores or "scratch and dent" groceries. These were like a treasure hunt; you never knew what you would find when you went to the store—cheap pasta, inexpensive flour, even cereal. Every trip helped to stock our pantry and allowed our family to eat better than we could have otherwise. The local salvage store we go to now is amazing, and I start my shopping trips there each week to keep our grocery budget in line. I can find coffee for half price, canned fruit at a third of the price, cleaning supplies at less than half price—even shampoo, toothpaste and dog food. Check Google to see if you have a salvage grocery near you that might yield some unexpected great deals.
Where we live, there’s a local grocery store that has a markdown area for every section, such as dairy and meat. I’ve found great deals on quite a few things, and will sometimes buy all of a markdown item if it's a really great deal. Get to know the managers of each department. In talking to each of them, I have learned the best times to go during the week to find marked down items. Check around your grocery stores locally—see if they have a markdown rack or if they would be willing to sell you items that would otherwise been thrown out.
The marked down produce has supplied our family with great fresh fruit, like apples, oranges, and bananas. Sometimes I find grapes, strawberries and peaches. Even the vegetables, such as green peppers, onions and mushrooms, can be used right away, or frozen and dehydrated to use later. I discovered a jelly recipe that makes some great jelly from whatever fruit you might find at a reduced price, either at a grocery store or a farmers market. I like to use my steam juicer to juice the fruit for jelly, but you can make juice however you like (the steam juicer just happens to be easier for me).
Multi-Fruit Jelly Recipe
• 3 cups of fruit juice (I used peach, apple, grape and nectarine)
• 1/2 teaspoon butter
• 1 box pectin (can use bulk pectin)
• 4-1/2 cups of sugar
1. Wash half-pint jars in hot soapy water. Place in 200 degree oven to keep warm and to dry. Put lids in small pot of simmering water. Prepare rings.
2. Put fruit juice in large stock pot. Add pectin (if using bulk pectin, follow measurements on jar for equivalent amount). Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring constantly.
3. Stir in sugar. Return to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Remove from heat and skim off foam, if necessary.
4. Ladle immediately into warm, dry jars, through a funnel, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Cover with lid and add ring, tightening hand tight.
5. Place jars in water bath canner, and add water to cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Process half-pints for 5 minutes, 10 minutes for pints, in a gentle boil. Remove from heat and place on towel upright. Cover and allow to seal.
You can make this jelly with any combination of fruit juice that you think would taste good together. I've even used 100 percent, no-sugar-added juice that was found reduced at the salvage store.
Let me know how your jelly turns out and what your family thinks! And if you have recipes or ideas for jelly, or ways to save money on food, leave them in the comments below.
Amy lives in North Carolina, where she is working towards learning all areas of self-sufficiency. Amy, along with her husband, four kids and three dogs, but has aspirations to own chickens, goats, pigs, cows, bees and more! Their current steps toward homesteading include a large garden from which they can the produce, along with freezing and dehydrating other fruits and vegetables. Amy's hobbies including trying new homesteading ventures, sewing, cooking, crocheting and learning how to "make her own" anything. Eventually, she and her family want to move to the country where to fulfill their wildest homesteading dreams!