Thursday, April 7, 2011

Meal Planning for the Year

I often think about my grandma's cold cellar. I remember as a little girl standing in a narrow room of shelves, filled from top to bottom with preserved fruits and vegetables, pickles and jams. There were potatoes and onions and who knows what else, and it was a marvelous site. There was enough food in that cold cellar to keep her going all winter. My Grandma lived in a small town with a grocery store, so it wasn't necessary for her to keep putting so much food by every year, but yet she did it anyway.

All that's left from the summer harvest.
I often like to imagine what it must have been like to be my Grandma when she was a little girl. How important it was that the garden produced enough and that it be preserved for the winter. How hard they would have worked as a family gardening and harvesting, and then later, prepping and chopping and cooking over boiling water during the warmest days of the year. How snug they would have been in the middle of winter, when the blizzards came and they didn't have to worry a whit about food.

When I think about trying to recreate that cold cellar, unanswered questions roll around in my head. What food does my family like to eat, and of that, what can I grow? How much of each food item would I have to grow to feed my family all year? If I couldn't grow certain things, could we do without them? What could I grow as a substitute?

When I made my list of seeds to purchase for the year, I realized I had to start meal planning for the whole year. It's an overwhelming prospect having no real idea as to how much food we'll need. Last year, I grew roughly enough to last us until Christmas, which was not nearly enough.

Sadly, the knowledge that my Grandmother had passed away with her. Like so many others who desire to learn self-sufficiency, I am starting from scratch, working through trial and error. This year, the plan is simply to grow more utilizing the same amount of space better, to utilize succession plantings to get multiple harvests and to try companion planting. I will drop certain things from the garden menu that didn't go over well in our house (turnips) and grow more of others (squash). I have the luxury of spending another year learning because there is a grocery store down the road if I don't succeed. In five years though, I hope to have a cold cellar that rivals my Grandmas.

Linked to Real Food Emergency Preparedness and Preparedness Challenge.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Great idea to model your food storage after your Grandmother's! I'd have to go back another generation to get to a "cold cellar" in my family, and they were all gone by the time I was born. Maybe I need to find some late 1800's diaries to read! Thanks so much for participating in the Real Food Emergency Preparedness Blog Carnival!

Amy @ Homestead Revival said...

Learning it all at my age is so much more work than learning when one is young! My 18 year old daughter knows more about homesteading and housekeeping than I did at 30! And that's how it should be... young people learning as they grow, doing these things - and thus my passion for passing it on.

Blessings for a bountiful garden and canning season. You're grandmother would be so proud!