Once you know your prices by keeping track of them in your price book you can begin to buy in bulk and work toward having a well-stocked pantry. When you have a well-stocked pantry you never need to worry about making those unexpected trips to the grocery store. Once you have a well-stocked pantry you will only need to stop at the store for produce, milk and the unbeatable sale that you can’t pass up. Stocking up saves money.

When planning to buy in bulk you must know the options for food buying in your area. Aside from the local grocery store there may be food co-ops, warehouse stores such as BJ’s or Sam’s or even local farmers. Be aware of the loss leader sale items, which appear on the front and back of sale flyers. These are meant to get you into the store and will usually beat any price in a wholesale store. Again, it is important to know your food prices so you can find the deals.

Bulk buying isn’t just for large families either; you just want to buy enough to get you to the next sale. Each family will buy according to their need. Be aware of expiration dates as well, no point in having a pantry stocked with items that are no longer good to eat! Buying in bulk will give you a well stocked pantry. There are many reasons to have a well stocked pantry. This past year we learned first hand the importance of having a well stocked pantry.

In December my husband was laid off. After the security of a steady income we faced the uncertainly of unemployment. It was a good feeling to know that we could eat from our pantry and spend a minimum amount on groceries during that time of unemployment. Thankfully after six months of unemployment my husband found a new job. In late August we experienced another interesting situation. Irene hit our area in Vermont hard. Not only were we without power for six days but also the roads were destroyed and travel was severely limited. To top it off we had a houseful of company that week, all four of our children as well as two spouses and our grand-daughter were visiting! Again we were blessed to have a well-stocked pantry. We ate well that week without having to worry about getting to the store.


After making applesauce yesterday I still had some apples left. I decided to use some of the apples and make my Aunt Cathleen’s Fresh Apple Cake. My aunt shared this recipe years ago and it has been a family favorite ever since! It is delicious anytime of the year but especially good in the fall when the apples are fresh. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Fresh Apple Cake
2  1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped
4 cups coarsely chopped unpeeled apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. It is often easier to use your hands to mix everything together as the mixture is quite stiff. Lightly grease a tube pan. Scrap mixture into the tube pan and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours.

Bon Appetit!


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Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to pick apples. It was a beautiful fall day, perfect for such an outing. The orchard had over 43 different varieties of apples, although the trees were not marked. As I walked through the orchard I would pick a few apples from each tree. In a very short time I had two full bags, plenty to make applesauce! Applesauce is one of the easiest foods to can – if you have a water bath canner. You can also freeze applesauce. I use the recipe found in the Ball Blue Book Guide To Home Canning, Freezing and Dehydration. The recipe is very simple. wash, stem and quarter apples. You do not need to core or peel the apples. I usually do take the time to core the apples before cooking. Cook the apples until soft in a large saucepot with just enough water or apple juice to prevent sticking. I then put the apples through a food mill to remove the skins. While the applesauce is still hot you can add sugar and spices if desired. Follow the directions for canning or place in freezer containers and you will have plenty of applesauce to enjoy all winter. It is such a satisfying feeling to have pantry shelves full of beautiful homemade applesauce.

Our growing season in Vermont is a short one. The ground is really too cold to plant until the end of May and we’ve been known to have a frost as early as Labor Day weekend! My dream is to have a greenhouse to help extend the season. We have friends that have a beautiful greenhouse and they have the most wonderful peppers and tomatoes. Until my dream comes true I find ways to extend the season in other ways. In the spring I use a cold frame to serve as a halfway house for my tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. When it’s time to move them out of the house but it’s still too cold to move them into the garden I use the cold frame. In the fall I use row covers. I planted lettuce in mid August and when the nights started getting colder I covered my lettuce crop with row covers. I’m not sure how long they will protect the lettuce but despite the fact that we have had several killing frosts we are still enjoying fresh lettuce from the garden! This winter I plan to read Eliott Coleman’s book: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables From Your Home Garden All Year Long. Maybe I too can become a four-season gardener here in Vermont.

Raising four children on one salary was often a challenge. I learned many ways to help stretch a dollar. Sometimes I would work part time or take care of other children in addition to our own in order to supplement our income. When I did work part time we would consider my salary as extra and not something that would be part of our budget.

One of the most important things I learned over the years was to make a price book. I am not the type to keep numbers in my head, so how was I to know if something was a good deal? The answer was keeping a price book.

A price book doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a way to keep track of prices. Each page contains prices for one item and the pages are in alphabetical order for easy reference. You might also have a code for various stores in the area, the brand, the size of the item and the unit price. You’ll be amazed what you can learn by writing down various prices, not every sale is always a sale! When you do find a good deal you can stock your pantry with confidence knowing that you are saving money. As you look through sale flyers with your price book, you will immediately be able to see what the good deals are. This may be the first step in getting control of your food budget.


It’s a wet, chilly Friday. A perfect day to make Cream of Carrot Soup! I’ve had this recipe for years and it freezes well although if you are planning on freezing it I would add the light cream later. This soup does not need to be blended but I have one of those wonderful emersion blenders, which I love to use! So before adding the cream I puree the soup. I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Cream of Carrot Soup

2/3 cup diced onion (from my garden)
2/3 cup diced leek (from my garden)
¾ cup diced celery
2 cups shredded carrots (from my garden)
6 TBSP butter
¼ cup white wine
6 TBSP flour
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups light cream (I used whole milk)
Salt, pepper and thyme

Soften leeks, onions, and celery in the butter. Add wine and reduce heat. Add broth and cook for ½ hour. Add flour and spices. I used about 1 tsp of thyme. Add carrots and cook until tender. Add cream and simmer for 20 minutes.

Perfect for a chilly, fall evening!

Enjoy!  Nancy


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