When you cook at home, you need pantry staples and refrigerator basics for cooking healthy, wholesome food from scratch. I try and keep the basics on hand so that I’m ready to cook or bake but my kitchen is small and I don’t have much space for storing items. How our freezer gets used helps me manage the storage of these staples and I generally freeze all types of food items.
We are fortunate to have a basement with a large 14-cubic-foot freezer. The basement freezer is where I keep my back stock of baking and cooking supplies. Using our small freezer in the kitchen helps me reduce our food waste because instead of throwing food out, especially after two nights of eating the same meal, I freeze whatever is left. My goal is zero food waste, so freezing food before it goes bad really helps.
This isn’t stock piling of food. I’m not a coupon shopper so I’m not buying lots of food or household items and storing them. The most I buy for storage ahead of time is maybe 2-3 months. A few items I buy may take 5-6 months for us to use but because of the packaging, price, and economies of scale, I do purchase them. These items include flour, dried beans and molasses. I buy the larger sizes and then fill as I use down what’s in my kitchen so I don’t always have 25 pounds of flour and 10 pounds of sugar. I’m always using these items so the amount is reduced quickly.
As far as I know, the only food items that can’t be frozen are raw eggs in the shell. Because food expands as it freezes, eggs in the shell have no where to go. Many backyard chicken keepers crack their eggs into a small containers and freeze them for later use, but we never seem to have too many eggs. Either my chickens are lazy or my kids are cooking up too many eggs for breakfast or snacks. Either way, I’ve never had the “problem” of so many eggs that I’ve had to freeze them!
How Our Freezer Gets Used
– and what I store in the big basement freezer:
- 25 pounds of whole wheat flour (from Bob’s Red Mill) – which is 100% whole wheat flour and we’re so lucky to live near the Bob’s Red Mill store. They also sell their products online. I keep a smaller container of flour in my kitchen cupboard and just refill regularly.
- 10 pounds organic sugar (from Wholesome Sweeteners) which is not treated with chemicals or bleaching agents. Costco sells this and it’s the best deal on this sugar. I keep a smaller container of it in my kitchen cupboard and refill regularly.
- oatmeal (from Quaker Oats) – again from Costco. We make a double batch of granola twice a month, bake cookies with it, and make granola bars. Sometimes we actually make oatmeal for breakfast, too.
- chicken broth – anytime I cook chicken with bones in it, after eating the chicken, I make it into broth, which I then freeze.
- fruit and berries – we pick berries in the summer and freeze for smoothies all year long or until they’re gone- in about January. The applesauce I made last month is in here, too.
- fish, chicken, pork, shrimp – when the types of protein we eat from the farms and markets I trust are on sale, I do buy several packages and freeze. I really like it when wild Alaska whole salmon is on sale because it’s a real value for a family.
- bacon – we don’t eat much bacon but when I buy it, I put it in very small packages, freeze it and use it sparingly to add flavor to soups, stews, and spinach salad. It usually amounts to 3 or 4 slices of bacon which I freeze in a small container. Once I take it out of the freezer, I chop it up, first, and then cook it.
- pesto – just made and looking so good in my freezer!
- roasted tomatoes – freshly picked from the garden and then roasted. Now, the roasted tomatoes are ready to be made into marinara sauce or pizza sauce.
- bread – whole wheat, no sugar added (from Dave’s Killer Bread) – again, a wonderful local company whose bakery is across the street from Bob’s Red Mill. Their outlet store sells frozen loaves of bread for $2/loaf. I like their “no sugar added” whole wheat loaf.
- beans – nearly every week I cook 6 cups (2 1/2 pounds) of dried beans. Mostly, we eat about that amount every week – yes, 15 cups of cooked beans almost every week. (They’re so good for you, full of fiber, and inexpensive.) After cooking the beans, I freeze them in smaller containers and get them out the night before we’re eating them.
- ice cream – what can I say? Costco sells the best vanilla ice cream and they’re in 1/2 gallon containers. You get two in a carton (of course you do – it’s Costco!) and I stash one in our downstairs freezer.
We don’t have a microwave in our little kitchen so I do have to be organized when I’m using food from our basement freezer. Meal planning helps me stay on top of what needs to come out of the freezer and when.
What helps me THE MOST is to get items out of my freezer the night before I need them. For example, if I get bread, berries, and beans out of the freezer the night before I need them for breakfast, the morning goes a lot smoother. I just have to be awake enough to go downstairs to the basement before going upstairs to bed!
How do you keep food waste down? What foods do you freeze?
Go Gingham related links
My “Love/Hate Relationship with Costco” – I love it – no wait – I hate it
Organizing food storage containers – and labeling them – yes, I have to do it!
Why I cook with pork – instead of beef – several reasons and 1 of them is sweat!
Why meal planning is the biggest saver in the kitchen – without coupons
Betsy’s best brownies – our chicken who is no longer with us
Healthy and tasty chocolate chip cookies – yes, with flax seeds and chocolate chips!
Delicious cake to make with apples – excellent cake