If you can’t already tell, I am concerned about being able to eat if things get tough. Living paycheck to paycheck makes you look hard at what is fixed for expenses and what is a variable. The mortgage and the utilities are pretty fixed, though there is some variability in water and electric usage. So you get real good at keeping lights off and washing full loads of clothes to make the most of what you do consume. These days it is difficult to live without a cell phone, and with the navigation ability of the phone, it becomes pretty essential to me. Dad always said I could get lost in a paper sack.
We don’t do cable here and instead have opted for internet and Netflix for entertainment. I used to get one DVD a month but found it difficult with working two jobs to actually find time to watch them and ended up taking months to watch a single movie. I find Netflix offers plenty for me to find amusement and what they don’t have I occasionally skip over to Amazon and purchase a TV series or movie I really want to see. When the internet goes down, bad weather makes satellite impossible, we hit the collection of $5 movies we got for at Wal-Mart.
Fuel is also a pretty fixed expense. There is no way getting around getting to work. So, when something breaks or I need to get something, the only variable I can tap into is the food budget. Having the ability to grow or produce food should give me some extra cash here and there. The only problem come with keeping it stored. I have entertained canning and might look at it once again when I get the garden producing well. Things like tomatoes, pickles and such will store well canned. But how can you keep potatoes or onions long-term? My answer is dehydrating.
Once again I went over to Amazon to see what could be found on the topic of dehydrating. I love information, so a good book about a new topic is the way I like to start my new adventure. There are tons of reviews for the book The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook book so I decided to order it. When it arrived I found she has several YouTube videos a great website for basics and recipes.
I eventually found a good deal on a dehydrator and began my drying adventure. I have been dehydrating onions, garlic, strawberries, bananas and potatoes. My favorite so far though has been jerky and pineapple. When living alone it is a bit difficult to eat better than just snacking. For one thing a good balanced meal takes time. Because of that I had pretty much removed meat from my diet. I could buy it in bulk and then create portion sized servings and freeze, but I seemed to not find the time to cook it up. Jerky is easy to make and I found I loved having some every day. I also did not have to worry about it going bad because it got too old. Jerky does not last long here.
Another thing I have enjoyed more of these days is potatoes. I can pop a tater in the microwave but I found I did not want to eat them as much as I needed to keep from having some rot from old age. So over time I just stopped buying them. I now peel and chop the potatoes, cook for a few minutes, then dehydrate into little potato cubes. I can actually reduce a 5 pound bag of potatoes to a one and a half quart canning jars. A lot easier to store and will last a lot longer than those spuds on a shelf or even in the fridge. To eat I take about half a handful and re-hydrate for 15 minutes or so, then drain and fry. I can be doing other things while the potatoes re-hydrate and since already cooked.. actual cooking time is reduced. I love them with eggs in the morning and a pork chop at night. Have been adding some dehydrated onion and garlic here lately and love the flavor.
Also in the photo is tomato paste. In that bag are 6 cans of paste that has been dehydrated and then pulverized in a blender. I dry out bananas and strawberries then grind to a powder as well. I found I did not like to eat them as dried fruit. What I do now with them is add in a blender to some vanilla yogurt, milk and frozen pineapple juice cubes to make a thick smoothie. The pineapple cubes come from the cans of pineapple I dehydrate. When you dehydrate the bananas, dehydrate the peels as well. That powdered banana peel will make your tomato plants and rose bushes happy.
Now when I go grocery shopping I look for what can be dehydrated as well. It is easy to add a can or two of tomato paste, berries in season, or the getting too ripe and reduced bananas to what is needed that week to build up what I have in storage. I take some time first thing in the morning on my weekend and get stuff loaded in the dehydrator. Then I go about my business and when the weekend is done I store everything before I go to bed and start the new week.
So far my dehydrating adventure has been fun. I like that I will have the ability to keep what I harvest from my garden from spoiling and also I have food storage that can survive power outages. Dehydrating also reduces the space all that food takes up. I am also finding I am a bit more creative in my meals as I now have more things available.