Saturday, September 18, 2010


We have a chest freezer - a modest one. We thought it was important to get one when we moved out here to Mucky Boots for two reasons: to preserve our fruit and vegetable harvest for the non-harvest months, and to allow us to buy in bulk when things we like to eat are on sale.

But I have learned there is more to using a freezer than just plugging it in and filling it up. You have to actually eat what's in the freezer, at least occasionally.

I first started thinking about this when my darling, wonderful sister came for a visit last month. She made a passing reference to not having a chest freezer because she is trying not to encourage her "food hoarding tendencies." Hmmm......

And about the same time I was working on our finances, and wondering why the heck our grocery bills are still so high, given that we're growing at least some of what we eat. Hmmm...

So this week I decided to go excavating in our freezers (the chest freezer in the workshop and the freezer that's part of our fridge) to see exactly what was in them. And what I found was chicken breasts.

Forty-seven of them.

Kim and I could eat chicken twice a week for 3 months without buying any more. And that doesn't even count the whole chickens (three) or chicken thighs (one big package).

I feel a word of explanation is in order. Maybe I have food hoarding tendencies, too. (Er - yes.) But when there's a 2 for 1 sale on chicken breasts, of course I'm going to stock up. It's all about ensuring that Kim and I are safe and won't go hungry. (Okay, I know that's not entirely rational, but even former Math teachers have an irrational side.)

It's not just chicken. I also found six pounds of butter and eight packages of spicy turkey sausages, plus lots and lots of frozen green beans, blueberries, tomatoes, carrots, beets and strawberries. Some of them were from last year, and still haven't been eaten.

Forty-seven. That must be a record. No wonder our grocery bills are higher than they should be.

So I made an inventory of everything in the chest freezer, and another one of everything in the house freezer, and stuck them on the fridge where I can see them when I make meal plans. Then I made a pledge not to buy any more chicken breasts - even if they're on sale - until we're down to six, and to eat all the wonderful frozen produce from our garden by the time next year's harvest starts rolling in.

We got started last night: I cooked four chicken breasts (two for supper, two for leftovers) and faithfully crossed those four off the inventory list.

Forty-three to go.


Natalie said...

I am here to confess... I have stocked too much as well, and it gets lost in the depths, and I *forget* it. We need to get serious about meal planning. Thank you Miriam.

jeanives said...

We have always had upright freezers rather than chests because they are more accessible. You can't pack them as tightly (maybe a good thing) and you don't have to empty the freezer to get something at the bottom. forty-seven chicken breasts is impressive! Your word verification
option this morning is "grumpe". Are you?

Flartus said...

HAHAHAHAHA!!!! That is totally us!! I was just in our freezer this morning, and had to move about 8 quiches and pot pies out of the way to get what I wanted...and that was only the first layer.

I think I should also do an inventory. Because I know even less about what's in the fridge freezer. Yipes!

(ok, my word verification is "layba," as in "Hey y'all, it's great to layba some food for the winter, but this is ridiculous!")

The Witch said...

This is a problem when you get a chest freezer. We all want the sales, and that gives us a tendentious to hoard food. Been there done that. Now I have a note book on the freezer as to what goes in and what comes out. It may mean you have to pull everything out and list it but it's worth it in the end.Our problem is bread and buns that accumulate and then when you go to the store you buy the bun's because you can't remember if you have them to make Hamburgs that night. Not any more with the list I know whats inside the freezer.
I guess are problem is you don't what to plan a meal when your at work because if you have forgotten something it's a 25 back into town.
That's why I meal plan for the week. It really does work.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

When we moved to where we are now we moved the fridge that was in the kitchen into the garage, and bought a new one. I love having it, but have to admit that I'm guilty of the same thing you are because groceries sometimes go right from the car to the freezer. Then at dinner time I open up the freezer in the kitchen and think there's nothing to fix...Time to shop!! :-))

Paula said...

I've read that chest freezers are more efficient than uprights, because when you open the upright, all the cold tumbles down out of it (cold falls, remember?). However, Steve didn't want another horizontal surface in the garage collecting crap, and I didn't want it in the garage anyway- we only had room for an upright in the kitchen. This is our first year with one. So far I've been pretty good about using things in it. I have an inventory on one sheet on the front of it, and on another sheet, I have a kind of diagram of where stuff is in the interior so that I can check that first and see where what I want is, and then zero in on it quickly once I get the door open, rather than stand there rummaging. Steve is really good about not letting me buy stuff on sale, because we really do have a lot of everything in the freezer.

All this talk about freezers and the perfectly autumnish weather we're having makes me realize that I should take something out to defrost for tomorrow. Sunday pot roast or something. Yeah- that sounds good!

Sparkless said...

Frozen meat does go off after about 6 months so you really want to use it within that time frame.
You should always date your food before you put it in the freezer too. Some things freeze better and longer than others depending on your freezer and how often you open it.

Toni aka irishlas said...

We've been guilty of this, well, maybe not quite this well stocked, but, since we've been buying local and in smaller amounts we are able to keep better track of inventory in the freezer.

Good luck with all your chicken. Don't let you hens and gentlemen chicks see it!

Shim Farm said...

I know this is an older post, but I still feel compelled to comment. I have the same situation you describe - one small chest freezer in the workshop, and the freezer compartment of my kitchen fridge. One of my goals in life is to take stock of the contents - and use them up! I was so convinced that chest freezer would simplify my life - but my lack of management has complicated things. I really should make an effort to get to the bottom of it - literally.

On a side note - I belong to a knitting website where someone posted about Emergency Chicken. (You know whereof I speak). The Emergency Chicken thread soon had a life of its own, and was one of the most hysterical things I have ever read on-line.

More power to us all - the Emergency Chicken Hoarders.

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