I tend to cook from the pantry. As part of eating locally, and eating homemade food, I'm attempting to plan for several months worth of food stored - aiming to be able to store what we need between harvests. Jellies, preserves, soups and other convenience meals, meat stock; lots of tomatoes, veggies, and meats. I looked at how we eat, and wrote up a basic plan for canning.
Then I looked at the available storage. I set aside the previous plan as ‘goals for another year’ and started over – we simply don’t have the space. I am glad I did all that planning, as it gives me a basis for the scaled-back plans. The new focus will be homemade convenience foods – instant-ready or dried ingredients (canned chicken is ready much faster than frozen!), pre-made dinners (the beef stew, for example), and a couple small items I like to have and can’t always find. For example, I really like my mushroom stew but I’m the only one who eats it. By canning some in 8-oz jars, I’ll have single-size servings when I want some. Items like the canned chicken can be refreshed when our stocks are low, and the store has a sale. That will save us space as well as money.
Even this may stretch our small pantry space, but I can handle the new plans better (35 quarts, a dozen pints, & the jellies) than the old ones (49 quarts and 150 or so pints, plus jellies).
For veggies, I will be using my knowledge of what’s in season (or could be kept in a root cellar), along with what’s available to purchase. The goal is to cook seasonally as much as possible, rather than using store-canned or shipped-in (out of season) food all the time.
For both plans, the number of jars is determined by what we'll eat, compared with what fits in the canner. If we're going to use a 28-oz can of diced tomatoes every week (not unusual during the winter), then we'll need 1 quart (about 24oz) per week. For eight months x 4 weeks = 32 quarts. The canner will hold 7 quarts, so 32 divided by 7= 4 (28) to 5 (35) canner loads. I'd rather make more that I expect to need, and if the canner is running anyway it may as well be full. So I'd plan for 35 quarts.
I'll discuss drying foods in another post.
New canning plan:
canned chicken, 7 quarts, refresh as needed
jellies, 8oz jars, aiming for 24 or so of mixed varieties
beef soup, 7 quarts, can be varied with additions when served
broths, chicken/beef/bison, about 8 pints each
mushroom soup – 1 batch of 8 oz jars
spaghetti sauce, 6ea. 8oz jars
seasoned diced tomatoes, 6ea. 8oz jars
7 quarts meatballs in sauce
Canned kidney beans, 7 quarts, refresh as needed
Canned blackeye peas, 7 quarts, refresh as needed
Preserves, pints, about 4 each strawberry, raspberry, blackberry