We are getting smarter by the minute. We cook more of our own food and we want to know that it comes from good, healthy sources, so we grow it as well. Executives with high-paying positions leave the corporate world and pour time and effort into the business of caring for gardens, small farm animals and, ultimately, the well-being of family.
If you stop by this Blog from time to time (thank you), you know what I mean and you also know where your values stand. If a good income is important, and if quality of life is important, then good, down-to-earth financial management skills definitely rate very high on the scale of importance as well.
Ways to achieve this include the choices we make not only regarding the foods we consume, but also the tools and equipment we choose to help us manage yard, farm and kitchen projects. It’s all about being practical, isn’t it?
Since we are so practical (yes, do give yourself a pat on the back and brownie points for your common sense), we find clever ways to make the most of our time and resources. Take the practice of dehydrating food, for instance. Not only is dehydrating an ancient and efficient way to preserve food, but it also saves bundles of money, in addition to providing healthy alternatives. Here are 7 examples.
1 – Dehydrating your own fruits means you can stop buying candy – I do not believe it is true that children (or adults with a sweet tooth – and trust me, I know this first hand) are not willing to let go of less desirable choices when it comes to sweet treats. The key word here is “choice.” We know that the grocery aisle offers “choice” that is questionable at best. Load the refrigerator and cupboard like a marketing pro. Offer abundance of choice, color, texture and taste with dehydrated alternatives.
2 – Put snack money to good use – Dehydrating saves money. Here is an idea: Next time you use your dehydrator to make snacks, find out how much money you might have paid at the store for the snacks you normally purchase (in a comparable amount) and place that money in a jar. Then, use it to buy more fruit, or to buy seeds for the garden.
3 – Reduce waste – It is estimated that we, Americans, waste over $30 billion worth of food every year. In yesterday’s article, we brushed on using produce bits and pieces left over from food preparation. Here is another way to put those bits and pieces to good use: Dehydrate them. Then, put them through a grain mill (or other device of your choice) and voilà! Instant, tasty sprinkles for desserts and salads.
4 – Make edible gifts – You already give away the fantastic tomato sauce you make at home with your Squeezo machine or food mill? You don’t? I think you should. It is so delicious. Doesn’t everyone tell you so? How about a gift basket? I know you think a jar of sauce is not enough. Alright then, add a few jars of your own tasty fruit leathers and dried fruit mixes. Place everything in a colorful ceramic bowl, from that recycle shop where you always make the greatest finds, and you have got a personalized and tasty gift in your hands. Part of a gift, after all, is the effort and thought that went into it. There is nothing of greater value than sharing ones time and sustenance.
5 – Make the most of your grocery budget – We know that buying bulk saves money. If you do not grow all of your fresh produce, you may also find that items offered within a price range with which you are comfortable often come in large quantities, sometimes larger than you can handle before it spoils. Set aside what you will eat fresh and make dehydrated apple chips with the rest. You have just created two food options with one purchase!
6 – Let’s not forget your protein intake – The price of store-bought beef jerky may appear low if you buy it by the piece, but it adds up over time. Also, you are paying for the meat and every step of the process that landed it on display, including packaging and the display itself. If you think about it, beef jerky is meat without water. That’s it. You and I can do this at a fraction of the cost. And you are not limited to beef. Experiment. Dehydrated tofu jerky anyone?
7 – Aromatherapy for pennies – Make your own potpourri. Place fruit scraps and fragrant flowers in the dehydrator. Add a few drops of essential oils. This is another clever way to give tasty food scraps a second life before adding them to the compost pile.
Dehydrated fruits and vegetables can be offered in myriad ways and not just as a single-use item. For example, a dried fruit mix adds a healthy touch to a school lunch and sweet texture as a topping for yogurt later in the day.
Psychologists report that the act of preparing a snack, by taking the steps required to mix even only two ingredients together, is a significant part of the enjoyment of food because it provides a tangible experience of choice in action and it provides a sense of control. All of this at the touch of a dehydrator button!