Before you fill your cupboards with bulk items, you may want to review the average "life" of those products you are considering purchasing. Ask yourself if you have adequate storage space, freezer space, and how much your family enjoys the products you are purchasing. This is a list of the average life of some common pantry and fridge/freezer foods.
Meat & Poultry - Uncooked:
Chicken/Turkey - 9 months
Steaks, beef - 6 to 12 months
Chops, pork - 4 to 6 months
Chops, lamb - 6 to 9 months
Roasts, beef - 6 to 12 months
Roasts, lamb - 6 to 9 months
Roasts, pork and veal - 4 to 6 months
Stew Meats - 3 to 4 months
Ground meats - 3 to 4 months
Organ meats - 3 to 4 months
Butter/margarine - 6-9 months
Cheese, soft and spreads, dips - 1 months
Cheese, hard or semi-hard - 6 months
Eggs in shell- Do not freeze
Ice cream - 1 months
Milk / Cream- 3 weeks
Dried Food Items - Shelf Life:
Baking powder/bi-carb soda - 18 months
Bread Crumbs - 6 months
Cereals - 6 months
Flour/cake mixes - 1 year
Gelatin/pudding mixes - 1 year
Herbs/spices - 6-12 months
Milk, nonfat dry - 6 months
Pancake/pastry mixes - 6 months
Pasta/noodles - 2 years
Potatoes, instant - 18 months
Rice, white - 2 years
Sugar, white - 2 years
Sugar, brown, - 4 months
From Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing
Semi-dried tomatoes are expensive to buy, over $20 a kilo from the deli, but they are so, so simple to MOO. All you need is the tomatoes, a dehydrator or oven, some herbs and patience - the drying takes a while.
I bought tomatoes this week for just 49 cents a kilo so even with the cost of running the dehydrator to dry the seven kilos I'm way ahead, in fact I'll be able to dry the lot for less than half the price of a kilo from the deli.
To prepare your tomatoes cut them into quarters. Cut out the stem scar and any thick hard part of the core.
Use a teaspoon to carefully scrape the seeds away (if they're your own heirloom tomatoes you can save the seed to plant next year), leaving as much of the pulp as you can.
Make a herb marinade using basil, oregano, salt and garlic. I use a ratio of 1 teaspoon of each herb to 2 teaspoons of salt. Depending on the amount of tomatoes you are drying you may need to increase these quantities.
Arrange the tomato wedges cut side up on the dehydrator trays. Sprinkle a little of the herb mix over each piece of tomato. Set the dehydrator to 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees F). Follow the directions for loading the trays.
After 4 hours, use a spatula to turn the tomatoes and gently squash them down with your hand.
Dry another 4 hours. Turn again and gently squash.
Continue drying until they are done to the texture you prefer.
Pre-heat oven to 80 degrees Celsius.
Line baking sheets with silicone paper. Lay the tomato quarters cut side up on the trays. Sprinkle with herb mixture.
Place trays into oven.
Prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon.
Turn and squash after three hours.
Dry another three hours, turn and squash.
Continue drying until done to the texture you prefer - this can take up to another 3 - 4 hours.
The time it takes to dry the tomatoes will depend on the tomatoes, the humidity in the air, the efficiency of your oven or dehydrator - they won't all be ready at once.
Check them after the second round of drying, some may be ready to take out then. They are ready if they are dry and wrinkled, but still pliable, a bit like a dried apple or apricot.
Ripe tomatoes are best for this. If they are too firm, sit them on the bench for a couple of days to ripen naturally.
It is important to make sure the tomatoes are dry enough, or they will go mouldy in storage. If you're not 100% confident, then simply pack them in a sterilised jar and top with fresh olive oil. Put the lid on and keep them in the fridge. You can add a few sprigs of basil or oregano to the jar too. The herbs will flavour the tomatoes and the oil, which can be used for cooking or on salads after the tomatoes have been eaten.