Country Living Recipes

Heirloom Romanian Peppers

Eating healthy and flavorful produce from our gardens is a normal part of our country life. We are blessed and thankful for the opportunity to be able to provide nutritious, organic food for our family and friends. Country cooking can be good for you and delicious! Our simple recipes are easy for anyone to make.

Heirloom tomatoes

The country recipes and food preservation tips we share on this page can be used by anyone, even if you don’t have a garden or are just starting to grow your own food.

Organic produce can be found locally at farmer’s markets and at many groceries nationwide. If you buy naturally-grown vegetables and fruits when they are in season for your area the prices are often less than non-organic produce. To save money buy larger quantities and learn to freeze or can the extra to enjoy later.

Be sure to read about our money saving grocery tips below.

Country Cooking Recipes:

  • Fish Recipes
  • Food Preservation Guide (Coming soon)
  • Kid Friendly Snacks
  • Picnic & Camping Recipes
  • Holiday Favorites

Making healthier food choices is one thing we encourage in our family.

We plant a family sized garden every year to grow as much of our produce as we can and preserve it for use over the winter. We buy fresh from our local farmer’s markets and local groceries for the rest of our food which helps our area economy.

We teach our kids what foods are best to avoid and what we can use as a substitute for all the sugar, fat and artificial ingredients found in so many processed foods today.

Learning to read labels and understand the ingredients listed is important for the aware consumer. Knowing how to shop smart is even more important when food prices are constantly increasing. The cost of groceries is a major expense for most families today.

The tips that follow will help you save money and reduce your grocery costs.

  • Buy your milk at a convenience store instead of a grocery store. You can save about $1+ per gallon of milk depending on your area. One reader emailed us with a good tip of buying a half gallon pouch of whole milk at the local convenience store (about $1.30) and adding water to make one gallon. Often orange juice prices are much less at convenience stores too.
  • Cut your own vegetables and make your own salad mixes. Don’t pay for someone else to do this for you. We have found prices to be double or more for this.
  • Always check to see what’s on sale at the deli before you make your selection. “I know I have made the mistake of going to the deli counter, asking for the same meat I always get, just to find out a competing brand is on sale for much less per pound.” Also, plan your weekly meals around meat items that are on sale and freeze extra if you can afford to.
  • Don’t buy bottled water. “If you only drank one 20 oz. bottle of water a day, this would save you about $45 per month.” And it also reduces the amount of plastic that gets thrown away in that giant garbage patch out in the middle of the Pacific, containing approximately 3.5 million tons of trash”. If you are concerned about what’s in your tap water invest in a quality water filter/purifier and refill your own bottles.

Avoid some common food storage mistakes and you’ll reduce the amount of food tossed in the trash and keep more money in your pocket.

According to noted food researcher Brian Wansink, 12% of all food bought for home use is eventually discarded. For a typical family of four this represents a yearly loss of nearly  $669 – hard earned money down the drain!

  • Don’t wash your berries before putting them in the refrigerator. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, and grapes should be refrigerated unwashed in a container or plastic bag. According to the US Department of Agriculture, washing produce like strawberries will actually cause the food to spoil faster. Of course you should wash your produce in cold water right before eating.
  • Keep your eggs, milk and other perishables safe by storing them on your refrigerator shelf instead of on the door. The problem is that studies have shown that the refrigerator door is frequently several degrees higher than the rest of the refrigerator putting anything stored there at risk. Bacteria like Listeria monocytogenes multiply rapidly when the temperature of food rises above 40F, resulting in food spoilage. Consequently, the US Department of Agriculture suggests that your refrigerator be set below 40F. (Buy a refrigerator thermometer so you can get an accurate reading)
  • Cover the top surface of your ice cream with plastic wrap before closing the container to reduce ice crystal formation. Keeping ice cream from continually melting and re-freezing also prevents spoilage.
  • Ice cube trays are a great way to store bits and pieces of ingredients that you might otherwise discard. If you use a lot of freshly squeezed lemon juice, don’t throw out the excess juice or lemons. Just squeeze them into an ice cube tray. Once the lemon juice freezes, place the lemon juice ice cubes into a freezer bag for later use.
  • You can use the same concept with a wide range of left over kitchen ingredients including wine, milk, and sauces. Have a recipe that calls just for egg yolks, place the egg whites into an ice cube tray and freeze for later use.

Reduce Waste

Here are some more tips that can help you reduce the amount of food you throw out.

  • Rotate the items in your refrigerator and pantry. Many of us have a bad habit of shoving the items in our fridge to the back to make room for newly purchased groceries. This increases the chance that the older items will not be eaten in time and have to be thrown out.
  • Try to rotate the items in your fridge, freezer and on your pantry shelves, moving the newly bought items to the back and the older items to the front so they get used first. It also helps to mark containers, boxes and cans with the purchase date.
  • Consider using a cooler to carry home your groceries.

Once you take items from the supermarket refrigerator case the temperature of the product frequently rises above 40F, the point at which bacteria start multiplying.

According to the US Department of Agriculture you should keep such products at temperatures above 40F for no more than 2 hours.

If you have a long supermarket trip, long ride home, or make several errands you’re grocery items could hover above 40F for several hours.

  • In the summertime heat it makes even more sense to take a portable ice chest containing ice or gel packs to keep your items cold until you reach home.
  • Many people throw leftovers in the refrigerator where they may be forgotten. Others store leftovers in a freezer bag or freezer container. When the bag is full they use the collected meat and vegetables to make delicious homemade soups. Others have a smorgasbord night where the family is allowed to feast on the leftovers.
  • Try to use your leftovers instead of letting them go to waste. Use them for lunches the next day or turn them into new meals by combining leftover ingredients with potatoes, salad greens, taco shells, or pizza crusts for a complete leftover makeover. You can also create ready to go dinner plates by placing leftovers into partitioned microwave ready dinner plates. When a family member needs a quick “TV” dinner, they can take out one of these plates and put it in the microwave for a quick meal.

Have you ever run into the store to grab a few items and ended up walking out with a cart full of groceries?

You’re not alone. Supermarkets have designed it this way. Simple put, they are masters of the impulse purchase. In fact, depending on the study cited, between 40% to 50% of all our grocery store purchases are impulse buys! So, one of the easiest ways to reduce your grocery bill is to simply take fewer trips to the supermarket.

  • To save money, make only one grocery shopping trip a week, or if you’re really brave try going only once every two weeks. While a little challenging at first, you’ll be amazed at how much money you’ll save.
  • Creating a good list is probably the best way to keep from visiting the grocery store more than once a week. Its always that one or two items you run out of in the middle of the week that forces you back to the store.  Create your list by first planning your weekly menu. This helps you to determine exactly what to shop for.

One thing to remember when writing your list are the between meal snacks. Many people plan their lists only with breakfast, lunch, and dinner in mind, forgetting that almost everyone drinks or snacks between meals as well.  Also make sure to check your pantry and fridge for staples like butter, sugar, flour and salt that may force you back into the store prematurely.

  • Keeping a well stocked pantry with food items that you’ve purchased on sale or in bulk will also save you money when food prices increase even more in the near future.

Hope you found some of these money saving grocery tips useful!

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