Cherries, Cherries and More Cherries

We are always looking for fun and tasty ways to keep our food bill low. Of course, saving money is fun. But if our food can add some entertainment and be extra yummy: that’s what we are really excited about!

Flathead Lake is a stones throw away from us, and in this perfect micro-climate beautiful, sweet, delicious bing cherries.  Orchards abound along the lake shores.  A few orchards offer U-pick for $1 a pound. This has become a yearly activity for us. We actually timed our 6 week road trip so we could be home for the cherry season. That is how much we love it!

We take all the kids, and in two hours we can pick 100lbs of cherries. The kids eat more cherries during that 2 hours than I think is humanly possible. By the end all the cherry juice has mixed with dirt, and they are covered in cherry mud.

Of course, the place we pick has it’s own private beach on the lake. This lake is so beautiful. If you have never experienced Glacier National Park or the Flathead valley, this should be your next vacation spot. The water is crystal clear. Well, it’s clear until my cherry mud children go swimming. We play and splash around on the beach till we are all sort of clean. That might count as their bath for the night.

Then over the next few days, the kids help me pit and freeze all the cherries. We add them to our oatmeal all year long. We make super yummy cherry banana smoothies. Both being an extremely affordable meal.

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Sometimes people look at being frugal and spending less like it’s a horrible chore or some terrible burden that must be endured. I actually avoid most horrible chores. And refuse to do anything that is a terrible burden. We like having fun. We love tasty food. With our frugal habits, we not only get those things, but have even more money for extra adventures.

Every year we add more fun and frugal activities to our list. Picking huckleberries while hiking. Planting cherry tomatoes and eating 20 a day. Sending the kids to the backyard for a snack of raspberries. Mr. Mt processing a 2 deer which put 80lbs of meat in our freezer.  Maybe next year we will finally get to go hunt morel mushrooms!

Life is too short to take on “terrible burdens”. It’s worth your time to find fun, affordable ways to enjoy your days. Having all that extra cash in your back account will feel like a cool bonus.

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19 thoughts on “Cherries, Cherries and More Cherries

  1. I love this post and it made me think of picking cherries in my grandfather’s orchard when we were little. We don’t have any cherries close by and the price in the stores is crazy – $5.99/6.99 a pound. My husband and son love them – but a small bag can often cost $14 and sometimes they aren’t very good. We just looked up Flathead Lake – BEAUTIFUL!

    • Store prices are crazy! We eat them like crazy for a week after we pick them, but never buy them from the store. I use to pick raspberries from my grandpa yard and that is such a good memory and the reason I planted some for my kids! And you should totally plan a trip here! Flathead lake, Glacier National Park, Whitefish, Bigfork, it’s tough to beat!

  2. That sounds terrific. We love cherries, but they are never cheap around here….peaches, blueberries and strawberries are, though, and when we hit my dad’s lake house we generally pick up flats of fresh from the field blueberries at the processing plant (no u-pick-em available). I have fond memories of being sent to pick blackberries for cobbler …and eating more than ever ended up in the dessert.

    • Ah, I wish we had other cheap fruit! We use to have a U-pick strawberry field when I was a kid, and that was such great memories. I would love a peach! A good peach is impossible to find here. Enjoy those!

  3. Wow thats a huge discount. I had no idea that the Glacier area in Montana was ideal for growing cherries. Never would have guessed it. I love the Waterton national park area right across the border in Canada too

  4. I am so envious of your cherries! We were in Glacier Nat’l Park last year and bought a bunch of cherries while we were there. Not enough to freeze, but they were delish! $1/pound in Iowa is unheard of for cherries – what a great deal!

    Your family outing to the cherry orchard reminds me of when we used to take the kids to the apple orchard each year to see the animals and pick a bushel of apples. Sadly, my kids seem to have outgrown this activity. We do have our own mini-orchard growing now, though, and hope to get apples in another two years or so.

    • I’m so happy to hear you made it to GNP. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. Although we have 2 mature apple trees, and they drop so many apples. The kids earn 50 cents a bucket they pick up. They are a mixed blessing!

  5. We did that with blueberry picking while in LA. Unfortunately, there’s not much around here similar to that now that we’re in Houston. Flathead Valley is high on our list of relocation places when we depart the muggy humid South, and that’s an awesome bit of news to find out about all of the orchards around there.

    We’ve got a vacation planned there for next year as a pseudo scouting trip for CDA, Whitefish, Kalispell, and the Flathead Valley area. I can’t wait!

    • That is awesome! We will have to get together at my favorite coffee shop. =) Let me know if you need any planning ideas. Or a good realtor. =) Cherry and huckleberry season is late July, early August depending on the weather. If you can make it then, it’s the best. Although, people keep info to their huckleberry picking spots under lock and key.

  6. A friend has a house out there, she never told me about great cherry picking! Now I have two good reasons to try to make it out there.

    I have to ask though – other than many helping hands, do you have a trick to pitting cherries? We buy them for JuggerBaby when they’re in season (thankfully ze can only eat a small pile at a time!) and I keep wondering if there’s a better way to prep them.