Classy Frugality

Making the most of life while living on a budget

Month: June 2014

DIY Freezer Jam

This past week I bought 10 pounds of strawberries. My purpose? DIY jam! image

Some people get scared of making their own jam because they imagine standing over a huge pot, pulling jars out and waiting for the *pop* that tells you that your jars are officially sealed.

Today I want to share with you one of life’s greatest secrets: freezer jam.

My mother-in-law introduced me to freezer jam a few years ago (thanks, Lea!) and it has honestly been one of my favourite ways to save money. Now, don’t get me wrong, we don’t go through a ton of jam in our house, but it’s one less thing that I need to over-pay for. (I’ll give you the numbers breakdown later on in the blog)

So, I took my 10 pounds of strawberries and made a ton of jam, which is now in my freezer, and will sustain us until next strawberry season. It’s so easy, and honestly tastes so much better than store-bought jam. I’ll share my tips and tricks with you so you can make your own jam!

First of all, you pick up your supplies. You’ll need: 

  • Fruit (you can use any kind, and any combos, but my husband is a plain strawberry jam kind of guy)
  • Pectin (I like Certo brand, but you can use any kind of freezer jam pectin)
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Jars (you can use plastic or glass jars, or even tupperware if you’re out of jars)

Photo 2014-06-25, 10 30 48 PMSecondly, you’ll want to use the instructions inside the pectin package. Each kind has slightly different instructions, so make sure to read them. I’ll tell you how I used the Certo liquid pectin that I picked up.

Third, you’ll need to crush your fruit. I used my Starfrit food processor to crush up my strawberries after I cut the tops off.  So fast and easy!

Trick #1: I use a Starfrit Manual Food Processor, a gift from my mother-in-law. It honestly makes crushing the fruit so easy! If you don’t have one of these, you can use a regular food processor or a pastry blender or potato masher (it just takes longer).

Photo 2014-06-25, 10 37 29 PMPhoto 2014-06-25, 10 38 15 PM

Trick #2: Chop all your fruit at once. It makes it easier, and your hands will get all sticky anyways, so it’s worth it to just do it all at once, crush it all at once, and just do each step at a time instead of chop, crush, chop, crush. I use a tall measuring cup or bowl to separate my chopped fruit.

Trick #3: Use a glass or metal bowl for fruit – a white bowl will be stained by fruit juice. 

Fourth, you’ll need to combine the fruit, pectin, sugar and juice in a particular order with a specific amount of stirring and waiting involved. Again, check your own instructions. (I definitely ruined a batch of jam once by thinking I knew the right order to add things. Whoops! I ended up using it as strawberry sauce for ice cream, so it wasn’t a total loss.)Photo 2014-06-26, 4 55 49 PM

Now, you just have to wait for your jam to set, and you’re done! Once it’s set you stick it in the freezer until you’re ready for it.So convenient!

Trick #4: Wash your dishes and clean your counters right away. Strawberry juice stains in minutes, so do yourself a favour and tidy as your jam is setting!

Okay, now the moment you’ve been waiting for: the price and time breakdown.

Time: 

Total time from first chop to dishes being done: Approximately 1 hour

Price for ingredients:

Sugar: $2

Pectin: $3 (for 2 pouches)

Strawberries: $6.67 (I bought a flat for $20 and used approximately 1/3 of it for this batch of jam)

Lemon juice: $0.25 (rough estimate)

Jars: $0 (I had a bunch in my cupboard, and because they don’t need to be sterilized for freezer jam, you can reuse with no worries!)

Total cost: $11.92

Total containers of jam made: 5 

Cost per container: $2.38 

Now, when I was in the store I looked at jam prices. Even if you go off-brand, you’re looking at $5 for a comparable container of jam.

Result? Better-tasting jam for 1/2 the price? Yes, please! 

I can’t recommend making your own jam highly enough! Give it a try – you just might like it.

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*Disclaimer: This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link. That means that if you use this link to buy the product I recommend, I’ll get a little something to support the blog and our journey to becoming debt-free. No pressure to use it, I just wanted to warn you! Also, I was not compensated in any way to discuss this product – I just really like it.* 

Set Yourself Up For Success

I’ve come to realize that no two people’s lives are the same.

Now, this may have been obvious to you, but for me, this was a very freeing realization. The more time I spend on social media, the more I come to question my own lifestyle. I so desperately want to pin those delicious looking recipes that I see littering my home feed on Pinterest, but then I realize that trying to make the perfect looking meal doesn’t fit in with my simple budget.

I need to find things that will work with my life the way it is now. I can’t start doing all of the things that I see other people doing if it’s not relevant to my lifestyle.

I recently starting working full-time as a teacher and doing Communications for a non-profit on the side, which means my time is limited. I need to make sure things are in place so life can keep rolling and I can be successful in my job(s).

So, here are some things that I have learned that I want to share with you so you can set yourself up, whatever your life may look like, for success:

1. Get comfy in the kitchen.

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My homemade hot pockets

This may seem like a sexist thing to put out there, but I do believe that to come out ahead in your budget and always have something to eat, you’re going to need to make a few things in your own kitchen. This may look different for everyone.

For me, I always bring my lunch to school, so I keep things in the freezer for those days when there are no leftovers in the fridge. I like making my own hot pockets (click for amazing recipe from A Beautiful Ruckus – one of my favourite blogs to read!) and burritos for lunches, and muffins for rushed breakfast.

I also keep granola and yogurt on hand for breakfast on the go. Check out my granola recipe here.

Having these things stocked up means that I am not tempted to eat lunch or breakfast out. It means there will always be food for me, no matter what happens.

My homemade granola

My homemade granola

2. Don’t neglect the little pockets of free time.

For me, this means that I try to avoid sitting around wasting time (I’m still working on this – I do love to sit down and watch a good Full House episode and just relax). It might mean that I’m doing the dishes in the 10 minutes that it takes my husband to get the coffee ready and pick out his outfit for the next day, or using the time when I’m watching a TV show or movie to crochet a gift for someone, catch up on emails, or write a blog.

Using these little free moments means that I don’t feel behind in my home even though I work 5 days a week. If I stay on top of things, I know that I will feel less overwhelmed.

3. Be prepared (financially). 

This simply means that you’re ready for when “life” happens. For us, we have a little emergency fund in the bank (baby step #1 of Dave’s plan – told you I might mention him from time to time!) and having medical insurance in place. This ensures that if something happens, it’s more of an inconvenience and a waste of time rather than a waste of money. (Click here for a personal story about how having money in the bank saved us from a crisis!)

4. Keep your house tidy.

I really believe that having a tidy house will change the way you live. If you come home to a clean house, I think that this will allow you to relax more easily, and you’ll take better care of the things that you own – this keeps you content on those days when you wish you had the newest piece of furniture or kitchen tool. It also helps to be able to find things in your closet in the morning when you need to grab an outfit. It saves time when you’re getting ready to go out of the house if you know where things are. 

These 4 things have kept me grounded as I’ve started working more and had less time around the house.

5. BONUS TIP! 

When you’re not in a busy season, it’s great to plan for the times that you’re busier.

This might mean…

  • Baking/cooking things and stocking up your freezer for those times when you have less time in the kitchen
  • Planning ahead for birthday/wedding gifts and cards
  • Shopping for a professional wardrobe before you start a job, so that once you start you’ll have clothes on hand
  • For me, it means writing blogs ahead of time and then posting them when I have less time to work on them (like this one – I started writing it back in March and was glad I had it in the vault)

What tips do you have to set yourself up for success? Leave me some ideas below!

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