See I told you, this would help!
- SC = Store Coupon
- MC = Manufacturer Coupon
- SS = Smart Source
- RMN = Retail Me Not
- PG = Proctor and Gamble
- WYB = When You Buy
- B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
- .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
- .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
- EXP = Expiration Date
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The following is part of an Organic Journey guest post series, written by Amy a long time helper behind the scenes of Southern Savers.
I feel like I just discovered another secret in this whole eating better for less journey. Want to know what it is? Well, I was reading another blogger’s tale of how she saves money eating well and noticed that she bought a huge box of tomatoes. A box of tomatoes that no family could ever consume before they went bad. Then later, while I was at my beloved farmer’s market, I noticed a man who had boxes of produce (and he didn’t appear to be buying for a restaurant!) Another seed was planted into the sieve-like brain of mine. I also have been gradually noticing that the prices for a box of produce at my farmer’s market are significantly cheaper than the price per pound. The puzzle piece that put it all together for me happened this weekend though.
We went apple picking and after we picked, we went back to the store to do a little shopping. There were these ½ bushel bags of apples for $15 ea. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how to comparison shop from bushels to pounds. I can, however, be creative in problem solving every now and then though. One of our friends that went with us works at a gym. I figured if he lifts weights every day, he could lift that bag of apples and give me a pretty good estimate of how much it weighed. He estimated that it was between 40-45 lbs of apples! My husband (who works in construction and thus does some heavy lifting of his own) checked it out as well (per my request, he’s not a doubting Thomas or anything) and concurred that the estimate was right. Even if it was 40 lbs, that works out to being 37¢/lb!!! The cheapest I can ever get apples for is 99¢/lb. That is some major savings! (full disclosure: It was a 2 hour trip one way with our clan. So, if you are looking for sheer cost effectiveness, the price of my gas killed that. But I figure the gas paid for a day of fun memories for our family.) Here is the problem, our family can’t consume 40 lbs of apples before they go bad. We could come close, but there would be waste. And then the lightbulb clicked on. Maybe one of the keys to major savings in this area is to buy produce in bulk when it is in season and at a great discount, and then preserve it. Sound simple? Yes. Had I totally figured out that this applied to things besides strawberries and peaches? No. So, I snagged three of those ginormous bags of apples (in addition to what my kiddos had picked) and started brainstorming ways to preserve these apples.
When I was talking to a dear friend today and excitedly told her about my aha moment, she said that made her think one thing, “WORK!” I’m not going to lie, it has taken some time and effort to preserve our apples this week, but if you have the right tools, it makes all the difference in the world. Which leads to the first step.
Step One: You must buy one of these apple peeler/corer/slicers. They are made by tons of companies, but there are phenomenal. They are so easy to use that my five year old can do it. More importantly, they save you hours upon hours of time. If yours starts to act up, try drying your apples. We found that ours was temperamental when the apples were wet. In about 20 minutes, we can have 20 or so apples peeled, cored and sliced. Why am I just now learning about this??
Step Two: Make applesauce. I tried this once last year before doing step one. It took the hubs and I hours of peeling, coring and slicing for one crockpot of applesauce. That is why having the right tools is key to making this a doable baby step. So, once your apples are prepped, you can toss them into the crockpot until it is full and toss in about 1 cup of water. Turn it on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4. Then mash it up (I used my immersion blender). I tried several applesauce recipes with added sugar and cinnamon that my kids hated. When you get apples picked fresh, they are so ridiculously sweet that they need nothing added. If you want, you can use several different varieties of apples. Supposedly that can help the flavor, but this stuff beats applesauce out of the jar hands down! Now, I was hesitant to make a bunch of applesauce because I knew we couldn’t eat it all before it went bad, and then a friend mentioned on facebook that her family makes gobs of applesauce in the fall and then freeze it in quart size freezer bags. BRILLIANT!!
Step Three: Dehydrate. Yes, I’m a bit obsessed with my new toy, I mean, dehydrator. And you might have picked up on my new love of dried apples, but there is sooo much more that you can do with dried apples than just eat them for a snack. Dehydration is an amazing way to preserve food. You can rehydrate those dried apples later to put them in recipes. Hello, yummy apple cinnamon raisin bread. Or fried apple pies (oh wait, this is supposed to be about being healthy!) Since my homemade peach fruit leathers have been such a hit, I’m wondering how applesauce would work as a fruit leather. So many options!!
You could also can them, but that takes more effort than I want to think about right now. I’m not against canning. I’ve done it once. It was just hot work, and I don’t really like to get super sweaty…especially when I’m inside in the air conditioning. Just keepin’ it real.
Another question that you might have is whether or not my apples were organic, and no, they weren’t. I did ask though about a few of the orchards in Ellijay, GA. The common answer was that they try to use as little pesticides as possible. Because of that, we peeled all of the apples and threw out the peel. Instead of feeling like a failure for not getting organic (and apples are even on the dirty dozen list), I’m going to be fired up that we are all eating way more fruit. Even my baby boy has started saying “ap-bull.”
How about you? Is the thought of buying a box of produce as daunting to you as it was to me? If this is old hat to you, what other ways have you found to preserve your apples?
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