Steps to Take Now to Prepare for Higher Food Prices

It’s times like these that I miss the huge gardens we had when I was growing up. Mom spent spring, summer and early fall getting ready for the winter. She gardened, harvested and “put up” most of the vegetable products we ate all year round.

As I live in a city, it’s a bit hard to garden that extensively. However, I can still stock up, and so can you. The important thing to know is what to choose when doing so.

Canned Foods: Get the basics first. Vegetables, fruits, tomato sauce, evaporated milk and basic broths are important. Once you’ve got a good supply laid in, you can expand to canned soups and other such products. Bear in mind that it is usually cheaper to make it than it is to buy it already made. Be sure to date each can as you buy it, and use what you got first before what you got last.

Dry Goods: I try to keep a supply of the following on hand at all times: dried beans, lentils, rice, flour, corn meal, sugar, dried milk, pasta and barley. Some of these need to be handled carefully.

All grain products come with a potential harvest of weevils. If you can, keep it in your fridge or freezer. If not, make sure the container is air tight, so that the bugs can’t hatch. Rice and beans may have foreign matter in them, such as small stones. Look them carefully before cooking.

Frozen: If you’re lucky enough to have a freezer other than the small affair attached to your refrigerator, it will come in very handy. You can buy meat in bulk, divide it into meal sized amounts and freeze it. Frozen vegetables can also be added, giving you access to some that don’t take to canning all that well.

Herbs and Spices: As a Master Herbalist, I try to keep a very good stock of even the most unusual of these flavoring agents. Most important to have on hand are salt, pepper, cayenne, red pepper flakes, garlic and chili powder. You may also want to add dried onions, cinnamon, cloves and other herbs and spices.

Coffee/Tea: Coffee hasn’t exactly been cheap for several years, but it’s now inching higher. Tea will probably follow the same path. Both should be kept tightly sealed, but not in the fridge or freezer. That will actually reduce shelf life and flavor quality.

About Sales: Certain foods can be found cheaper at certain times of the year. Watch your ad pages carefully, and if you notice something in your stock-up list is at a great price, grab it. This is especially true of various types of meat.

Fruits and vegetables may also be at low enough prices to make home canning or freezing a worthwhile endeavor. This can augment what you’ve already acquired readily prepared and is, in the long run, a lot healthier.

Even if you haven’t seen much of a rise in price, it’s coming. Some of what we grow in the U.S. is now being diverted to fuel, and that means there’s less of it for us. Other countries are dealing with weather problems that make food production drop. It’s time to get ready now.

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