Are you an avid canner? I never thought I would become one, but I have definitely flopped right into that category over the years.
So when you realize that a new year is coming upon us, do you have certain goals that you try to achieve as far as canning goes?
Well, in my home, I definitely do. We depend upon canning for a lot of our food supply throughout the year. I try to avoid the grocery store as much as possible because it saves our family so much money.
But this means that I have to set realistic goals for our family and have a plan in place on how to accomplish them.
So if you are curious how you can set and achieve your canning goals for the year, then you’ll want to tune in because having a plan is half the battle.
Here is how you can set and achieve your canning goals for the year:
Why You Need Canning Goals
I am a very goal-oriented person. I am also a huge planner. I feel like I’m chasing my tail 9 times out of 10 anyway.
So if I didn’t plan and set goals, then I’d really get nothing done. This is why I set goals with my canning. I like to know exactly what my family needs, how I plan on meeting that need, and reassess my overall goals as far as feeding my family.
Obviously, things can change from year to year. You could have the intention of avoiding the grocery store all together one year. Then the next, be in a totally different season where you feel like you can avoid the convenience of the grocery store a little easier, but you have a lot less time for canning.
So things just kind of ebb and flow which is why you need to take time to evaluate the season you are in and see if your canning goals still match that season.
But once you know how much food your family needs, how you plan on fitting in that amount of canning, and where the food will come from then you are officially ready to tackle the task at hand. That is why setting canning goals are so important in my household.
How to Set Canning Goals
Now that you realize the importance of setting canning goals, you may be wondering how exactly you go about doing that. There are just a few simple steps to the process:
1. Consider Your Family Size
How much food you need depends greatly on how many people you are trying to provide food for. In our house, we are a family of 5.
So with this in mind, I usually think about things from an aspect of how many jars I need. In most cases, a quart jar will feed one serving each to a family of 4.
However, in my case, I have 4 guys in my household with big appetites, so I usually bank on 2 quart jars per meal. This lets me know that I’ll need 2 jars, 3 times a day, 7 days a week for 52 weeks. This equates to a little over 2100 jars.
But I reduce that number by almost half because we rarely eat breakfast from a jar.
So usually I shoot for anywhere from 1,000-1,500 jars per year of canned food.
Now, this upcoming year, I’ll be canning more food because I’m trying to preserve enough for my family, my parents, and my sister. Needless to say, I’m going to have a busy year ahead.
2. Establish Your Food Goal for the Year
Once you get an idea of how many jars you would need if you ate straight from a jar all year long, you need to consider what your goal actually is when it comes to food.
For me, my goal is to get away from the grocery store as much as possible. I also want to help my parents and sister be able to do the same as much as possible. This means, if I can preserve it, I probably will.
But some people just want to preserve a few small items that they know they’ll use and grow enough of to can.
For instance, there is a lady I know that grows grapes in her yard. She enjoys them, but they are also very fruitful.
So because her son enjoys grape juice, she’ll utilize the abundance that grows in her yard and makes grape juice, which she then cans.
But she isn’t canning it to avoid the cost of buying it elsewhere. Whether you are just trying to utilize what you grow or are trying to completely avoid the grocery store, this will impact the amount of canning you’ll do in a year quite a lot.
3. Are You Canning for Convenience or Food Storage?
The next thing you need to consider when deciding how much and what to can is, are you canning simply to preserve something that you’ll use in the future, or are you canning for convenience?
For instance, when I can food, I do a lot of fresh vegetables that I put in jars. But I also can lots of other foods too.
When deer season comes around I don’t just freeze it all. I’ll can some deer tips, some deer sausage, deer burger, and I’ll make chili and vegetable soup in the process. The reason I do this is that my life gets pretty hectic sometimes.
And if I don’t preserve food that is convenient and that I can whip up in 20 minutes or less, my family ends up eating a lot of sandwiches or take-out. The sandwich part gets old in a hurry and take-out wrecks our budget.
So I’m not just trying to preserve food that I might use in the future. I’m also canning to make my meals convenient throughout the year.
Obviously, convenience canning will determine how much you can in a year because you are basically meal planning for the entire year.
4. Do You Have Storage Available?
The next factor that will impact your canning goal each year is do you have a place to store what you preserve?
It is a little different when you go to the grocery store once every week or two. You have a small storage space, you fill it, you eat what is in the space, and then you grocery shop again.
Well, when you can for a whole year, you could have over 1,000 jars to store. That requires some serious space.
So you’ll have to think about creative storage techniques for what you can, or you may have to cut your canning goal back some.
For us, I have a pantry, open shelving in a hallway, we store canned goods in the basement, and under our beds.
So if you really need to can food for the entire year, like us, you will find a way to store it. Where there is a will there is a way.
5. How Much Food is Left from Last Year?
Another big factor that will impact your canning goal for a year is do you have any food left over from last year?
If so, great news! You won’t have to can as much this year. If not, then you’ll need the full amount.
So when making out your list of things you’d like to can and the number of jars you need to fill, don’t forget to check your stash from the year prior.
Also remember to eat the jars from last year first, if you can help it.
6. How Will You Get the Food?
This is a big part of setting a canning goal. How are you going to get the food to fill the number of jars you need?
So if you are someone just canning excess from your garden simply because you can’t eat it fast enough, then you may put back a couple hundred jars (depending upon the size of your garden), but you won’t have to worry about filling 1,000 jars.
However, if you are trying to feed a large family for a year, then you may have to get creative and think how you are going to fill all of those jars.
Maybe you’ll need a larger garden, you may need to visit a Farmer’s Market, or maybe you have friends and family you can swap goods with. I have been known to do all 3 in order to put back enough food for the year.
Either way, knowing where the harvest is coming from will have a big impact on filling the number of jars you need to fill in order to meet your goal.
How to Reach Your Goals
Once you have that magic number in your head that you need in order to make sure that your family is taken care of for the year, and you know where the food is going to come from, you’ll need to figure out how you are going to make all of this happen.
And yes, it is important to have a plan in place prior to actually jumping in.
For me every year, I’ll figure out how many jars I need to fill.
Then I go over all of the food I hope to can that year. This will include preserves, vegetables, fruits, meats, and convenience meals.
Next, I’ll figure out how many jars of each I want to can. Then I figure out where the food for each category is coming from.
Now, there are some items I do not grow because I can purchase it around me cheaper than I can grow it. For those items, I’ll mark what time of year they come in so I’ll remember to go pick them up for canning.
Then I’ll fill out a calendar of what months I’m going to be super busy canning and what months will be slower.
For me, busy months include July and August because of a large harvest of fruits and vegetables. Then I get busy again in October through December because of a fall garden and deer season.
So what does all of this mean? This means that I have to make plans on how to handle life during canning seasons. We homeschool so I school year-round to make sure that my kids can finish an entire curriculum even when I’m canning.
Because during canning times, we’ll often take a break from regular book curriculum, and I’ll sign them up for different learning activities done online, and we’ll do lots of reading during those times too. My kids end up going to school for about 265 days a year, but they learn a lot and we are able to provide for our family’s needs at the same time.
So I’m sure you have different challenges you have to work around in order to can. It may be a day job, school, homeschool, or any number of other things. You’ll have to take the time to figure out how to work canning around those other items that you must do in life as well. That is why it’s so great to get a plan for your canning before it is sitting on your kitchen floor.
My Canning Goals Most Years
I wanted to give you a little idea of what my typical canning year looks like. I try to hit the 1,000 jar mark. Some years I go over and some I stay under.
This past year I had a lot of food left over from the year before so I didn’t have to can as much. My layout for this year was:
- 200 jars of crushed tomatoes
- 200 jars of green beans
- 100 jars of corn
- 50 jars of pickled jalapenos
- 100 jars of soup
- 100 jars of meat
- 50 pints of jam or jelly
- 50 quarts of fruit
- 50 quarts of miscellaneous items
I was grateful to have a little break this year since we had just moved when canning season hit, but I’ll be back at it again next year.
So I hope that this has given you some sort of idea on how to set and achieve your own canning goals this year.
But I’m curious, do you set canning goals every year or do you just can as it comes?
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