Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Cost Of Groceries in America is Unrealistic and Too Damn High (And an unnecessary waste of money)


  There is something about the way we live today that pisses me off. I’m being blunt. After reading that the average family of four spends $944 I literally smeared my hand across my face and face palmed myself and around my eye, smearing eyeliner all over my face in sheer disappointment.

Is it necessary? No. Is it worth it? No. Is it even remotely close to healthy? Obviously not.

So, why do I personally believe that the grocery bills are too high while the people are barely making it? YET America is still getting bigger? And nearly killing ourselves by the food. Why is it that we are so inclined to believe that it is too expensive to eat healthy? (With over $900 a month, are you kidding me?)

It’s simple. My generation was not taught how to prepare. Our society wasn’t taught to prepare. Our society lives off in the hurry up convenience market. It came down to the days of the first fast food restaurant and a mother on an old commercial in black and white expressing her excitement over a glorious TV dinner saving her time over cooking for her family. And how much do we gladly hand over the big time corporations for convenience when we don’t even know what the hell we are putting in our mouths half the time? I can’t even read half the words on this damn box of I’m-not-sure-what.

Most people do not have basic cooking skills. And if they do, you’ll be on the internet and you will be searching for hours trying to figure out how to make one bowl of soup that you will need to spend $50 on buying the groceries in one day to make because you weren’t prepared. You can’t do that every single day. You will go broke. You have to budget, prepare, stock up, have a decent pantry with versatile ingredients that you can use in case of a financial emergency. And I do not mean America having an economic collapse. I mean your household having an economic collapse.

And in nearly every family, especially for the younger families, there will always, always be that day.

I would rather make 14 eight ounce jars of a glorious homemade chicken soup for around $30 or less and have them prepared ahead of time. Or at the very least had the supplies bought cheaply or on sale at a low price, put away… and bought from being in season.

To me, it is much easier than spending the 30 dollars for half the soup, half the taste, half the nutrients, and far too much sodium.
Where do you find the time?

A decent stay-at-home-“steader” could probably get a lot more done in less time. But today, both couples, male or female- that is irrelevant, are working outside the home. It isn’t entirely obvious but in a lot of ways for some (most certainly not all) families, that lack of time and need for convenience is not saving money but rather costing. Especially those who have to pay more for things like day care, gas, etc.

Consider this: If a family of four could cut their bill down to $200 from the average $944 to save an extra $8,928 annually, if you add the other expenses that are not exactly required but a matter of convenience, how much are you really bringing in? And how well has that been for your health or your family’s health?

What are the basics of this? Hard work, dedication, and a lot of studying. We were not such a lazy breed in the olden days, this is new and it is not evolving and creating a society- it is turning us backwards because we screwed it up.

The skills are semi-basic.
  1. Canning
    2. Dehydrating
    3. Learning to bake your foods for breads, cookies, pretzels, etc.
    4. Learning to sprout your own seeds (even alfalfa sprouts)
    5. Gardening or even small basic windowsill gardening for urban homesteaders
    6. Simply looking in the coupon section for deals and half prices
    7. Having a budget (lower than you can afford) to experiment and learn
    8. Knowledge of spices (A poor man with many spices always has a feast)
    9. Knowing how to store and wax eggs/cheeses from sales.
    10. OAMC (Once a month cooking)/ vacuum sealing/ freezing (These are for bulk foods on a convenience rush like homemade pop tarts, cereals from scratch, homemade potato chips, etc)

Fishing, hunting, basic farming, gardening, foraging.

(Though I have done the farming once before, being the urban homesteader at this point I don’t see myself farming right now. If that happens, it will be ducks, chickens, sheep, or goats- and the goats won’t be for eating because I become emotionally attached to them. In my head… goats and dogs are the same creatures.)

This isn’t necessary but my oh my, is it helpful to combine skills and trade. A pound of elk or whatever someone has hunted in exchange for some jams or jellies is spectacular. I don’t know the laws on this in every state. This is another one where you’ll have to check for yourself. I don’t believe there are too many, but if there are between you and I, I would gladly announce to FDA or whoever is responsible to kindly shove it up their ass.

The rules are simple

1. Coupons are your friend.
2. If you can, gardening is your friend.
3. Spices are good. Especially, when you can dehydrate and store your own.
4. Basics are perfectly fine. There is never anything wrong with simple. A pizza does not need to cost $50 to make. Leftover bread dough for crust, oregano, basil, cheese, is just fine.
5. Bread is flour, water, yeast, and sugar. And that’s it. You do not NEED a bread maker. But it will make life a hell of a lot easier.

So how much is an investment for basic prepping? 

For canning the cost is about $100 for equipment.

That includes: Jars, canning utensils, pressure canner. (I do not recommend a water boiler.)
For dehydrating: About $150. That contains the vacuum sealer which is used to vacuum package foods like jerkies, vegetables, or fruits to last around a year in storage.
And that is also to store thousands of dollars of food that could otherwise be freezer burned or left overs that would have gone in the trash otherwise.

That includes: Food dehydrator, vacuum sealer and the rolls for the vacuum sealing.

How long does it take to start a food storage?

That depends on how much you want to start with and how much time you’re willing to dedicate. You are likely going to start easy. That means you will probably start with nothing more than a few cans of jelly and some salsa. (That’s what I did.) My recommendation is to see what is in season and on sale in your area for that month or whatever you’ve grown. Set a budget and build your recipes around that.

For example: Tomatoes are on sale half price. So, you would probably consider for that month, investing in the tomatoes to create your tomato sauces, marinara/spaghetti sauce (the same thing), salsas, diced seasoned tomatoes, etc. Remember the more versatile ingredient the bigger the impact for your storage.

 (Note: You can always can meat with a pressure cooker but DO NOT can anything with noodles or rice. That is something you must add later. For example, you can happily can all of your ingredients for chicken noodle soup- as long as you don’t add the noodles.)

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