Eating from your pantry (or freezer) can be tricky especially if you have uncooperative family members, but it’s the number one way to save money.
(I use pantry interchangeably with freezer since it’s all food storage.)
You save money twice by a) not going out to eat, and b) not letting food go to waste.
Tell me if any of these scenarios sound familiar.
- You bought too much of something that was on sale.
- You bought several of the same item thinking your family might like it. They didn’t.
- Somewhere behind the tuna fish, dog food, and boxes of pasta is the land of forgotten food.
- Your freezer is potentially hiding “The Thing” and you don’t have the nerve to defrost it.
Even the most organized person can fall prey to the Food That Time Forgot, so don’t feel bad. You’re in good company.
Once a year I clean out my dry pantry. I pull out every single item, dust, wipe, and check expiration dates. When I put everything back I make sure the stuff that expires first gets put up in front. Still, I’ve been guilty of unwittingly pushing the ‘old’ food to the back, never finding quite the right time to use it up.
The freezer is even harder! I have two freezers which take turns holding goat milk, unwanted roosters, the last of our pig, and jars of homemade soup, aside from the normal stuff people put in freezers.
Since we’re doing a No-Spend Month, it was time to see what I had and use it up. This means Greg could be eating more pork than he’d like. On the other hand, he might also have more rib eye than usual. (Poor guy!) It all depends on what’s left inside.
I knew a No-Spend Month was coming so I’ve been carefully trying to use up roasts and ribs. I’ve also stopped buying more meat even though it killed me to have to pass up some excellent sales on organic chicken. At some point you have to show all your cards and play what’s on the table–or in this case, freezer.
I can finally see some bare areas in my freezers, so my next step is to pull out everything, put it on the counter and catalog them. This way I know what’s left and in what order I should bring them out for defrosting.
I made a vow not to buy any more meat until what we have is gone, or nearly so.
I’m hoping there won’t be too much mystery food. There’s some tilapia we’ve thus far refused to eat, (it turned out neither of us likes tilapia) but I can cook that for the cat. There’s also some deer sausage a friend gave us. It’s good, but super spicy–even for us! When we tried it, it gave us indigestion. I’m afraid that’s headed for the garbage unless I can think of something else.
Last week, I slow-cooked a quarter piece of brisket. I had planned on refreezing the leftovers but it was so good we kept having them for sandwiches and breakfast. It disappeared fast.
It’s good to see I’m making headway. It would be great if I could start the year with a clean slate and a clean freezer.
I’m hoping too that I’ll do a better job organizing my freezers. Typically, I do a shelf of pork, one for beef, and one for chicken. Drawers were for sausage, bacon, fruits and vegetables. As time went on Greg would pop things in the wrong place, or I’d have to wedge something that didn’t belong because there was space available. I’d like to go back to compartmentalizing my food so it makes it easier to find. I also need to make a shelf for things like goat’s milk, cheese, and ice cream. Especially ice cream. 🙂
But one step at a time.
So what can you do to clean out your warehouse of food?
The obvious answer is to eat what you have. You can also donate dry goods to Food Banks, or give away frozen food to neighbors and friends. If you want to be an extra good friend, you’ll cook up that roast or chicken and invite friends over for dinner.
How often do you clean out your pantry and freezer? Do you think you throw out too much food? Have you ever found a mystery food in your freezer?