How far are you from your food?
I know that being a locavore is all the thing to do, and that is probably a good thing. Of course, right now in Missouri there are lots of things coming up, and who wouldn’t want strawberries right now? Asparagus is in as well! The bleak reality of the food situation for a large part of the US population is that during the winter you are either growing a small amount of veggies in a green house or in your home. That is a great way to handle things like basil, which are really fairly easy to grow. (Although I did manage to kill my basil plant over the winter.) For city dwellers, the green house is hard to do, and it is simply too cold to grow anything outside. Early winter brings us winter squash, a few leafy greens, and root vegetables. Essentially the harvest is over in November, and nothing will come up until April. In the old days families would put things in the root cellar, and can things so that they could have food for the long winter. Do you can? I know I sure don’t. Not that I have a place I could put anything I canned anyway. My apartment is what you might call small.
What am I getting at? Eating locally is part of the answer, sure, but I’m not really sure that is the complete answer. A lot of people don’t cook, and that is partly due to the fact that we have very busy lives, some people have kids, and all of the activities that entails. When we do cook it very often involves a pre-packaged meal, which is better than nothing. I’m not saying that if you want a strip steak you should buy a short loin primal, and cut your own steaks, although you probably have the skills to do it. It’s a big piece of meat, and most people probably don’t have the space to keep it.
Buy locally when you can, when it is reasonable. Go to a farm, pick your own fruit. Apples, strawberries, peaches, can all probably be had where you are. Take your family, it can be a good time, and will end up being cheaper. When you have the time to do it, cook from scratch. Make your own stock, and see what you can use it in. You can freeze it in small amounts and use it for your soups, stews, and sauces.
It can take extra time to cook from scratch, but I am fairly certain that it is always worth the effort. You get to ensure that you and your family are eating better quality food, and depending on what you make you may find that you are able to spend less by cooking. There are a lot of things that are not that difficult to make, but are quite rewarding. My goal is to show you some things that are going to be easy enough that you can throw together a meal and save some time, and maybe save a few dollars too. Try to break down a chicken, it’s really not that hard. The interesting thing is that the pieces that you can buy are from birds that are more beat up when they are being processed. A whole bird came out without being mutilated, spindled, folded, etc., and they are less expensive. You can easily feed four people with a chicken, and then take the leftover bits and make your chicken stock from them.