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The Great Freezer Clean-out!

momto6

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I debated on putting this on the board side, but since it's all about food, and there are already a few on the boards about that, here it is... And I don't know where I would put it on the other side.... BS6-7 maybe, because that's the step we're on, but really, it's more about life than BSs.

Water Cooler maybe.... It's about budgeting sure, more because of the pantry aspect. I save a lot that way. Buying in bulk. But like everything else it comes with it's own set of "rules". You HAVE to rotate your "stock".... even if it's free, if you won't use it before it spoils, it doesn't save you anything.... You have to have some kind of system to keep it organized, otherwise lots gets lost and then spoils, and then it costs you..... And although it's not a rule, it's a good idea to go through everything every now and again... And for me that time is now.

 

Pantry rotation time!

Once a year, I take a look at my freezer and decide that it's time to do a clean out. THIS is that time!! We rotate always, but there's usually something that gets pushed back to the back, or lost in the bottom somewhere, so this is the time to discover all those items and put them to use before they go bad.

The goal.... cook from the freezer and pantry for the month of January. Buy as little as possible. I would like to be able to see the shelves of the freezer by the end of the month. AND reorganize the pantry, which is always easier when it's emptier. =0)

What will have to be purchased....

Dairy... milk, sour cream maybe, yogurt maybe, OJ for sure....that should be it.

Produce.... potatoes, onions, celery maybe, bananas, maybe apples....

Frozen.... maybe a few veg, but hopefully not

Meat.... nothing

Pet food.... well yeah, they don't eat out of the freezer!

Breads.... maybe, we'll see.

Snacks.... have to do an inventory and see if I have the stuff to make granola, otherwise granola/breakfast bars....

I think that's it.

Now... what do I need to do?

1. Inventory. I already have a rough idea, but it wouldn't hurt.

2. Browse my cookbooks for specific cuts of meat.

3. Make a meal plan (list) of 30 meals.

4. Shop for those necessary items that don't stay in the pantry. (above list)

5. Plan second trip to the grocery mid-month.

6. Plan for a time to take stuff OUT of freezer each day. (I know it sounds weird, but if I don't pull Wednesday's meal out on Monday, it doesn't get cooked on Wednesday. I plan two days out. And if I don't figure out a time of day to do it, it sometimes gets lost in the day to day stuff.)

7. Just DO IT. =0)

What do I need to use up specifically? Beans, I purchased a whole lot of dried beans last year, and I am not using them as frequently as I thought I would. (cans are just so easy!) Need to use up some of those. Meat, my DH wants to be a big meat eater, so I buy for his big meat eating desires, but then when it comes to cooking, I prefer a "meat as a flavoring" style, so don't cook nearly as much as I thought I would. Pasta... We haven't been eating as many pasta dishes as we normally do, and I didn't adjust my shopping quickly enough, so I have a surplus of pasta.

I need to figure out how our suppers have changed.... the amounts, now that the boys have moved out and are only home for meals once every couple of weeks, and the two older girls are not eating at home as much either..... the type, my girls do not consume as much of the high starchy things, nor as much meat as the boys did.... hmmmm... gotta do more thinking on that.

I figure between now and the new year, I will be pulling the bits and bobs out. You know, one single pizza, or fish patty, single person leftovers, or a couple of this or that. Should make for some interesting meals. =0)

Anyone want to join me in the insanity?!? *L*

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I like the idea of it but I just don't have quite as much as you do that needs using up, I suppose!? In fact, we have already been "cleaning out" or pantry-surfing for the last week and a half or so. However. I'll join in with what I've got. I know I have a few pesky pantry and freezer items that NEED TO GO.. I look at them and go "nah" over and over and they never get used. I'll check back in tonight!

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*LOL* Gelly, MANY folks don't have quite as much as I do.  =0) I think I finally realized that the 2 small girls eating on a regular basis, is just NOT the same as those girls plus 4 teenagers that used to eat here full time.  =0)  Bits and bobs being utilized for this evening's meal....Taken out something for Friday.  Now to get to the inventory!!  

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I ate out of our freezer and ditched som things.

 

Ya know the frozen ham from best by Feb 2013!! (it was behind some jugs of frozen water so i never saw it!!!)

 

Our freezers are in good order at the moment.

 

I do need to inventory the pantry items

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Must be something in the air :D I spent my day cleaning out our big freezer, defrosting it, and wiping it all out. I plugged it back in but turned it off. No reason to keep it going since I was able to move all the meals into the upstairs freezer. I have 12 full meals left in the freezer from my last big assembly afternoon. I plan to use them all up while dh is gone TDY and then do another big assembly afternoon once he comes back.

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Mimi, we also unplug our chest freezer when we can get everything in our regular freezer. Then we plug it back in when we get a half a cow.

 

I don't really stock up much beyond two or three packages of chicken, and one or two freezer meals. I actually like cooking daily, but having an easy meal or two is always smart.

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My freezer was FULL of food before Christmas.  Then I bought things I "might" want for Christmas - including a cherry pie which is still in the freezer.  I really need to keep eating more from the freezer.

 

I did us a pound of stew meat this week.  Next week will be something chicken - not sure what yet.

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Cutenirish - Yikes!  Yes, that is the kind of thing I'm talking about.  =0)

 

I have already gone from the large freezer and two refrigerator freezers, to one large and one fridge, since we changed out the other fridge for a fridge only (no freezer).  I can't imagine having so little that it would all fit in one fridge freezer.... but I guess we are getting closer to that all the time.  =0)

 

Dorothy.... I'd have to use that pie as an excuse to invite someone over to dinner.  Not sure how long any pie would last in the freezer, nevermind a CHERRY pie!  *L*

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We used to have two standing freezers in our garage at one point, both were handed down to us. We sold the smaller one because we did not even need that many. But we kept one for future use (someday!), it's a good thing to have. It's definitely unplugged and cleaned out at the moment. Our freezer drawer in the kitchen can hold SO much that I don't see us using the garage one unless we bought a cow or bulk meats.
 
So I inventoried, got a little busy last night as I usually do. I rarely hop on LLNOE in the evening! but here goes.

in my pantry…
Bulgur Wheat about 2 cups
Red Quinoa, unopened bag
Basmati rice – a large storage container full about 2-3LBS?
Lentils – about 4-5cups
Popcorn Kernels (a bucket from a boy scout sale)
1 Box each spice cake & yellow cake
Assorted nuts (walnut, pecan, slivered almonds, pine nuts)
Box of iced tea packets
Bottle “Basil Martinique” vinegar (white chardonnay vinegar based)
Bottle “Africa Ras-El-Hanout” vinegar (apple cider vinegar based)

 

The vinegars we bought at the farmer's market, but we've barely put a dent in them. I guess we can use them for marinating, but ????. They are wine bottle sized, filled with vinegar/wine/citrus blends and stuffed with actual fresh herbs, spices and such. No idea how long these keep for but they visually look fine.

And my freezer..
Bacon ends from farmer’s market
Hash brown patties – bag of 3
Salmon
Chicken breasts
Italian Meatballs
1 pork chop (I know)
Fresh caught trout – about 6
Chicken basil + sun-dried tomato sausage
Frozen peas
Mixed berries
Mixed veggies
Brussels sprouts
Beets
Green beans
Butternut squash

 

So yesterday I set out to use some of the bulgur, what a fail. I tried to make tabbouleh following a recipe but I definitely got something wrong. The bulgur was supposed to soak up the fresh tomato juices, but it didn't. Once I added dressing, the whole dish was like a cold soup.

At least the lamb meatballs I made to go with them, were DELICIOUS! (had to keep with the indian theme)

I think some of my obvious meal answers are to pair quinoa or rice or a grain with a meat and a veg. I'm terrified of the trout, they've got skin on and I just don't like the freshwater flavor. I can cook up all the bacon ends at once and keep the crispy bacon in the fridge for salads, toppings and in breakfasts. I just got cream cheese so that I can make cream cheese frosting to go on the spice cake and bring to work after the new year to share.

Other ideas?

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Gelly, if you guys do salads, then I'd imagine that the vinegars would be wonderful in homemade dressings.  I *think* you can cook the fish in milk and take out some of the fishy flavor, but I'd have to look that up to make sure.  Spaghetti for your meatballs, or maybe a meatball sub?  I like having pasta with things that you don't expect to have with pasta.... like the squash in a light oil sauce or maybe with peas and lemon and chicken.  As I'm looking at all the fruit in my freezer all I can think about is making a cobbler.... no fuss, no muss, just yummy!!

 

So my inventory is done too.... Not going to list it here!  *L*  It's a wonderful problem to have.  Even worked out my menu list for the month....  7 pasta dishes.  4 bean dishes.  24 meat dishes.... gosh that's a lot of meat.  Maybe I can trade a few meat dishes out for some more beans.  *sigh*  Still a work in progress....

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Mom, I think you're correct regarding fish and milk. My husband will "marinate" or soak the fish in a bowl of milk in the fridge the day that he plans to make it for dinner.

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I am going to take today to focus on making some kind of meal plan with what we've got. Already have a couple recipes planned (a salad and a chicken+rice type dish that utilizes one of the vinegars as part of marinade) but if I don't plan for stuff like that trout, then I probably will not end up using it!

It is nice to make a grocery list that only involves one or two ingredients needed per dish, as opposed to shopping for everything at once!

Once we literally run out I hope our grocery envelope will have built up enough for me to hit Costco or Winco or Walmart and get more bulk frozen/pantry goods... that I will actually use :D

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I'm going to clean out my baking cupboard today. But rather than use them up, I'm going to throw out all the cookie decorating sugars and sprinkles, the mini marshmellows, and other items that don't square with my new healthy-eating choices plan for this year. This morning I weigh exactly what I weighed on January 1st last year. So what I've been doing the last 12 months obviously made no difference. But it's a new day in a new year. Time to begin again.

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GLG, I have come to accept in the last little while, that this is the "season" of my life when I simply weigh more than I used to.  I eat well.... not too much junk food.... I exercise some.... I could do more, but honestly, I don't want to.... I'm healthy, and I simply weigh more than I used to when I was in the military.  My DH doesn't seem to mind, so really, neither do I.  =0)  I am now Grandma size!  Maybe because I'm no longer chasing children here, tither, and yon!  (And allegedly, if you weigh a little more, not a skinny minny, then the menopause symptoms are not as severe.)

 

That said, I have resolved to drink more water this year.  Supposedly, if you are drinking more than you think humanly possible, then you are probably about the "right" amount.  My mom is a big water pusher.... seriously, if it were illegal, she'd be in jail!  She says, drink a full glass before meals.  Put some lemon in it if you don't like the flavor of your water.  If there's something good in life from clearing acne to losing weight, she says "Drink more water!"  *L*

 

Are you going to find alternatives to the high sugar desserts?  I am a firm believer in needing something to fill a hole.  If you like baking those cookies and are stopping, what are you going to bake when the mood strikes?  There are quite a few desserts that aren't as sugary as those we are used to.  Look at recipes for sweets from other countries if you want to change that.  (I like the German desserts myself.  And scones.... they can be slightly sweet, but not as sweet as those in the US... and I'm finding that I like them better lately.)

 

And finally......

 

But I will also look in our freezer and make plans to use up whatever we have in there.

Welcome to the dark side!!!

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Since I weigh about 50 pounds more than when I got married, my goal is to lose about 35-40 pounds. I won't ever be the hottie I was in my 20s, but I could look a bit better and develop more physical stamina. The number I really want to decrease is my cholesterol number. :-)

 

One easy decision was to give up a glass of wine on weeknights and to save that for the weekends only. Or at least follow that plan most weeks. I've started making tea fairly often. So enjoying the various teas I have on hand will be a nice alternative treat. I'm getting addicted to a Cinnamon Hot Spiced tea that I bought at Barnes & Noble. The flavor reminds me of Dentine gum.

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Teas are amazing. I tried to get into them for a while (and did, successfully for maybe 2 weeks) then it was just as easy for me to 'fall off the wagon' and stop drinking them. But I have a nice variety in the pantry, and for me, it's a super easy way to get more water intake.

 

I still haven't made my meal plan yet. We kind of did chores and ran errands all day. But I am getting to it right NOW!

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Wow. I now have a dinner menu for January for 9 different dinners using the meat and grains and veg I already have. Hot dang!

- Chicken Casablanca w/rice

- Asian quinoa salad w/ teriyaki chicken

- Italian chicken soup

- Moroccan Harira (a bean soup)

- Curried Lentils w/butternut squash

- Dill/Lemon Salmon w/quinoa + brussels sprouts

- Meatballs (and a lone porkchop!) with mushroom gravy over rice & green beans

- Oven roasted trout w/rice & green beans

- Baked Dijon salmon w/rice & mixed veg

 

I mean really once you put it down on paper it's amazing how many meals I may be able to squeeze out of "there's nothing to eat in this kitchen"!  What's better, my total additional groceries required (for misc fresh ingredients, 90% produce but some pantry type stuff and 1 meat item) will most likely cost less than 1 week of our usual grocery expenses. Yeah!!! Need to do this more often.

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This was great inspiration, thank you! I have been dreading cleaning out our kitchen freezer. I did our stand-up freezer a couple months ago (again, thanks to inspiration on this board). Threw away a couple things...like a packet of meat from 9/13...yum! I am so happy to see a freshly scrubbed, organized freezer now when I open the door. I don't have as many meals as I thought, but will definitely be using up what we have.

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day four.... so far so good.  Inventory.... check.  Meal list.... check.   Grocery shopping.... check.  I did end up purchasing several servings of seafood.  I simply can not, and do not want to eat that much land meat.  Even my DH noticed when he looked at the meal plan.  Asked me what I was going to eat.... *L*  But rather than change the whole meal plan, I'll just cook a serving of seafood to have with the sides of the meal.  OR, simply do as I did last night, which was to NOT choose from the prepared list, and make what sounds good.  (*LOL*  It's good to be cook!)  Which was a veggie chowder last night.  Which was delicious, and used pantry items only, but so not on the list.  Well until I added it anyway.  =0)  And this is likely how I ended up with so much meat in the freezer to begin with! *sigh*  If only the children weren't "Meat-itarians"!

 

So far, so good.....

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So far so good here too! I've made two of those nine meals already.. now on business for a week so DH has some leftovers to work with but I'm willing to bet he is going to go to the grocery store for cereal or sandwich stuff soon LOL. When I get back I'm gonna catch up on all those other dinner recipes and get our pantry and freezer BARE! (like someone else mentioned it's nice when everything's freshly scrubbed wiped down and sanitized! can't wait..)

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This week so far we've used 1 froz salmon filet, 3 froz steaks (enough for 1 dinner), 1 pkg froz chicken breasts (5), and now for tonight 1 - 3lb top round beef roast. The only meat I bought this week (1/1/16) was 1 whole chicken.

 

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OK, nearly 1/3 the way there.... so far, although I apparently didn't like my list, still cooking out of the freezer!!  Added two different meals to my list after I cooked them!  *L* And I haven't soaked those darned beans yet!  

 

New goal..... make one meal with dried beans this week!  Going for chili, so that will be kidney beans.  Plan on doing it Monday, so TOMORROW.... I've got to get the beans soaking..... tomorrow....  OK.... I can do this.  Going to make myself a note and stick it on the freezer, so that when I go to pull meat for Monday I'll know to put the beans on!  

 

How's everyone else doing?

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I've been making my beans in the crock pot lately without presoaking. It works great. I'm making chili this week too. Ground beef from the freezer, dried beans (small red, kidney & black). We'll probably serve it over baked potatoes.

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