12 Cheap Ways to Preserve Food – Preservation on a Budget

Cheap Ways to Preserve Food

There are so many ways to preserve food: water bath canningpressure canningfreeze dryingdehydrating, and so much more. But all of those methods require some kind of equipment. 
What are some cheap ways to preserve food without that fancy equipment? 
Can you still preserve food? YOU SURE CAN!
What other ways are there? In this blog post, we’ll tackle several cheap ways to preserve food without special equipment or even much skill. 
Ways to Preserve Food on a Budget

Cheap Ways to Preserve Food: 12 Cheap Ways to Preserve Food with No Money or Equipment

1. Infuse Honey
Dry your herbs, and infuse them in honey. 
How amazing would lavender be in honey on top of some vanilla ice cream? You can add so many different kinds of herbs to honey. You always want to make sure that your herbs are fully dried before adding them to honey. 
Try something like basil, which would be an amazing addition to your medicinal pantry. This can be used for calming a stomach ache or for a sore throat. You can add dried mint, ginger, or lemon peels to honey to use in tea. 
Something like lemon peels or ginger could be added to honey in its raw form, but you would likely want to fridge it. 
Vanilla beans can also be added to honey, which is great for tea, on top of ice cream, or stirred into yogurt.
2. Infuse Oil
Infusing oil would be very similar to infusing honey. You can add a lot of the same herbs, and they can be used for cooking or even medicinally. 
You can leave your oils in a cool, dark place, like the pantry. 
Experiment with herbs like rosemary, tarragon, chives, or dill. We like to infuse in olive oil, as this is a great addition to greens to make a salad. 
3. Bacon Grease (my favorite of all the cheap ways to preserve food!)

Bacon grease is probably one of the easiest ways to preserve food, and it’s literally FREE, if you are already cooking bacon. We cook bacon on a sheet pan in the oven. We do not use foil. 
When the bacon is done, we pull it off and drain it. 
You can also put your bacon a cooling rack (like for cookies) on the sheet pan, and this would make the job a little less messy. 
Once your bacon is cooked, pull it off onto a plate with a towel, and then GENTLY pour the bacon grease into a mason jar. 
As the pan cools, you’ll likely see white grease start to form, and you can scrape this off with a metal spatula. Put that goodness in the jar! 
That grease is full of benefits, it’s great for cooking, and it will have INSANE amounts of flavor. 
We keep a jar of bacon grease in the window sill next to the stove all the time. 
We will simply take a spoonful of bacon grease, throw it in the cast iron skillet, and we will cook eggs in it. You can also use it to cook veggies – or really anything in your skillet. This does NOT need to be refrigerated. 
Cost for this = NOTHING. 
4. Hang Dry 
If you’ve grown herbs in your garden or bought herbs from a local farmer, you can SO EASILY hang them. 
You literally just need some string, or even a bread tie. Just gather a bunch of herbs, tie them up, and hang them. You don’t need very specific conditions for drying. 
Obviously, somewhere that’s got good airflow and less humidity would be best, but they will likely dry out eventually regardless. 
I hang herbs all over our house – on the walls, from the beams (we have a loft style house), from a rack that Zad made from an old grill rack, etc. 
This also applies to flowers. You can hang flowers for decor or for medicinal purposes! 
5. Herb Salt
Herb salt sounds super fancy, but it’s really so simple. Again, if you’re growing herbs or buying from local farmers, you can dry the herbs. 
Once they’re dry, crush them, and add them to some quality salt. You can use coarse salt, pink salt, mineral salt – whatever you like. 
We love Redmond’s Real Salt. It’s seriously that easy. This salt is shelf stable with fully dried herbs, and you can add to so many dishes. 
6. Ice Cubes (perhaps the easiest of the cheap ways to preserve food!)
If you have some ice cube trays, or really any recycled plastic, silicone, or metal container, you can make ice cubes. You can simply put some crushed herbs in an ice cube tray, fill with water, and freeze. 
These ice cubes can be added to soups or whatever meal you enjoy. It’s a great, CHEAP way to preserve your homegrown herbs. 
7. Bone Broth
If you’ve ever bought “high quality” bone broth at the store that’s organic, not full of needless ingredients, and full of collagen, you know how expensive it can be – and how hard it is to find – and can you even trust it? You can make your own with literal scraps, and it’s probably the best cheap way to preserve food. 
Again, this one is so easy. 
When you’re done with your roasted chicken, your beef bones, your turkey carcass – whatever it is that you’re doing – SAVE THEM! You can make very high quality bone broth from just the bones of your meals. 
If you have some heads and feet (like from a chicken) to throw in, EVEN BETTER! But if you don’t have those parts, don’t fret. You can still make great broth with those pieces you may have been throwing away before. 
Just put the bones (it’s ok if there’s some meat/skin/fat left on it) into a crockpot, add maybe 2 quarts of water, and let it go. I usually do this process twice. The first one will likely gel up better (especially if you have feet and heads), and this is the GOLD. 
The second will be more of a broth, but both batches are valuable. You can pressure can this, if you have a pressure canner, but if not – you can freeze it! 
Again, this costs almost nothing. You can freeze this broth in any container you have that’s freezer safe – even a recycled yogurt container. 
8. Animal Fat
Rendering your own animal fat is another one of these preservation methods that costs almost nothing. 
There are a few ways to go about this. You can get fat from a local butcher (you can ask questions, if you want say non-GMO or soy free, etc), or you can simply save your fat from meals you make. 
Most butchers will give you this fat for free, or it will be super cheap –> cheap ways to preserve food that may cost you almost nothing!
If you use the fat you have from your cooking, this process will cost whatever it costs you to run a stove. Rendering down fat is a very slow process, if you do it correctly. Just put your fat in a pot, and let it cook on low. You’re basically melting the fat. 
Once it’s rendered down, you can just pour it into a jar, and let it sit. 
You can fridge this for longer life or leave it on the counter. I usually have a quart on the counter and a quart in the fridge. 
Some people do huge batches and shelve it for a year. 
9. Pickled Eggs and Veggies 
Throw your hard boiled eggs in some pickling brine! You can reuse brine from store-bought or home canned pickles, or you can use some red beet brine. Easy!
You can do the same thing with cauliflower, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and peppers! 
These will all last at least a year in the fridge. If you’re already growing veggies anyway, don’t forget about pickling. Finding cheap ways to preserve food can be made even cheaper when the cost was literally a seed!
10. Vanilla
For a cheap bottle of rum or vodka at the liquor store (say $20) for a big bottle, you can easily preserve your vanilla. 
The beans themselves are not cheap for good quality ones, but you can buy a large amount in bulk for a better price. 
They will keep for a long time in the fridge, and virtually forever as vanilla beans in alcohol. 
To do this process, just split the bean open, drop into a mason jar with vodka or rum, and let it sit for 6 months in a cool, dark place. 
You can often reuse your beans many times, too! 
11. Fire Cider
Fire cider is easy to make with a few ingredients like peppers, ginger, onions and a few other things. Check out this recipe
12. Elderberry Syrup
If you’re looking to keep your immune system in great shape, elderberry can be the answer. You can usually pick elderberries fresh in the wild and dry them, or you can buy dried ones fairly inexpensively
Making your own is MUCH more economical than buying it already made. 


Ways to Preserve Food on a Budget

Cheap Ways to Preserve Food: Take it One Step Further 

Keep in mind that almost ALL of these cheap ways to preserve food can go a step further! Almost everything can be composted or fed to chickens, turkeys, or pigs when they’re done – which then becomes meat or eggs! If you have some limp lemons coming out of your honey that you’re done with, compost them! 

The elderberries that you cooked for syrup can be fed to the chickens or put in the compost. Extra liquid from fermentation can go to the pigs. You can grind down the bones from making bone broth into bone meal for the garden or to add calcium powder to your own diet. 

You can save the egg whites from making salt cured egg yolks to use for baking by freezing them. You can feed the eggshells from any of these projects back to the chickens or to the compost. 
A no waste kitchen is a money saving kitchen!

Do you have other ideas for cheap ways to preserve food? Leave them in the comments! 

Ways to Preserve Food on a Budget

Cheap Ways to Preserve Food: More Education

Here are some more ways to learn about cheap ways to preserve food: 
Save money by making your own yogurt. 
Follow along with our on blog or YouTube Channel for other cheap ways to preserve food! 

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