How to Preserve Fruits & Vegetables – Make-It-Stretch Monday

We all know that we’re supposed to eat vegetables. Experts tell us to eat the rainbow or eat 5 a day for optimum health. These days you can even buy your vegetables in dehydrated capsules! Crazy!

I’m all about eating vegetables, I’ve even converted my “I will only eat green beans from a can that have been cooked in bacon the way my mom used to do it” husband into a veggie lover. Well, a veggie tolerator. My kids know to expect at least one veggie with every meal, and on the rare occasion there isn’t one they wonder if I’m feeling ill.

Eating veggies is great for your body, as we all know. I think most of us would eat a ton more if they weren’t so darned expensive. When you have hungry kids at home and have $5 to buy dinner, you’re going to go for cheap hot dogs ($1.50)*, a package of hamburger buns or bread ($1.50) and 2 boxes of macaroni and cheese ($1.00). You aren’t going to reach for a head of lettuce ($2.50) and a bag of apples ($3.50).

The trick to feeding your family a lot of veggies and stay on budget is to garden as much as possible (a topic for another time) and buy lots of veggies when they’re cheap and preserve them for future use.

There are several ways you can preserve your veggies (and fruit, and pretty much anything, really).

1. Canning – Check out Canning Granny for everything you ever wanted to know about canning. The downside to canning is that you have to get supplies, and that can add up.

If you don’t already have canning supplies why not try:

2. Dehydration – Chef Glenn has a website with lots of instructions on canning fruits, veggies and entire meals. Dehydration is easy enough but also requires some equipment, though if you don’t have a dehydrator you can dehydrate in your oven.

If dehydration isn’t for you, why not try:

3. Pickling – Pickling isn’t just for pickles anymore! Taste For Adventure has a great article on how to pickle vegetables. Pickling also requires some equipment, but not as much as canning.

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to preserve fresh fruits and veggies you can choose my favorite method:

4. Freezing – Freezing is a great way to preserve fresh fruits and veggies but it’s not as long-term as canning, especially if your area is prone to power outages. Freezing requires less time and effort than canning and your veggies will last just as long if frozen correctly. To freeze your veggies you only need some good-quality freezer bags and a few minutes of spare time.

Do you take extra measures to ensure you have veggies and fruit available all year?

*prices based on my last trip to a regular grocery store, not using coupons. I could get this stuff much cheaper if I went to the discount store but if I only have $5 I’m not going to spend the extra gas to drive the 13 miles to get to it.

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