Saturday, February 27, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - The freezer as pantry

My freezer in more organized days
I was asked by my friend (and doppelganger), Deanna, what were my feelings about storing items in the freezer.  I understand the question for we do have power outages in big storms at times and the possibility of... God forbid... an EMP blast is getting a lot of news these days.

Well, as far as an EMP blast... we would have a lot more to be concerned about than just the food in our freezer.  Those of us who depend on any medication or medical device to stay alive would not do well in such a scenario.  How do I plan for such an event?  I don't worry about it for there is nothing I can do in something that catastrophic.  I make sure I'm ready to meet the Lord!

However, anything less than an EMP or Armageddon event, I do think possibilities through a bit.  I only have a medium size deep freeze and it usually doesn't contain a whole lot of meat but in the event of a total extended loss of electricity, I'd share what is defrosting with my kids (who live a couple miles down the road) and neighbors.  The good thing about living in the country is there are plenty of ways to have a backyard barbecue.

My freezer is an important part of my everyday pantry and gives me the ability to save money and to plan ahead.  For instance, the really good chickens (the kind that are hormone free but not organic) went on a great sale at Meijers soon after the Holidays so I bought four whole chickens and added them to the one or two I already had there.  I think of whole chickens as the most budget friendly of meat because I can have at least a couple meals and soup out of each one.

Turkeys were on clearance for 39 cents a pound or thereabouts after Christmas and if my husband liked turkey better, I would have bought at least one of them.  But I didn't.  But I kinda' wished I did later.

I usually stock up on frozen veggies when Kroger has a good sale and I buy a few loaves of bread at a time on sale.  Right now the freezer has a a couple loaves of sandwich bread, a loaf of garlic bread in foil bought on clearance, a couple packages of naan bread bought on clearance, and quite a few packages of tortilla and burrito shells (the packages slipped into larger Ziploc bags to protect them from freezer burn).

I've been known to buy four containers of vanilla ice cream when it dips below $2.00 and a box of frozen cheesecake had a cozy home in the freezer before New Year's Eve (when I was all baked out).  When Cool Whip goes on sale for a dollar, I buy a couple for the freezer even if it is not a real food.

I usually have a few pounds of butter (bought on sale) in a Ziploc bag in the freezer as butter is one item I don't want to run out of and it freezes very well.  I once had a bag get lost in the deep freeze (and you know how that can happen!) and found it four or five months later.  All the butter was still fine.

For the past year or so, I've been having a baking day when I 1) feel good, and 2) have all the ingredients to bake favorites for the freezer.  This past week we had quite a snowstorm so we were snowed in for two days.  I took advantage of the cold weather to have a baking day so a pumpkin pie was baked and is in the frig for Hubby, a double recipe of shortbread dough was mixed up and is now in the freezer for when those cookies would be a good idea, and five dozen chocolate chip cookies were made (my recipe strains even my big Kitchen Aid mixer).

I baked two dozen of the cookies to share with Mr. & Mrs. Christopher and then scooped the rest of the dough onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper... set the timer for two hours... and carefully placed them in the deep freeze.  Once they were frozen nice and solid, I slipped a dozen each into three different quart size Ziploc bags and then slipped those bags in a gallon size bag to prevent freezer burn.  Now all I have to do for chocolate chip cookies is to place them on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven about three or four minutes longer than I would if not frozen.

Sometimes the freezer holds meals I've made ahead of time, extra containers of homemade chicken broth, etc. to help when I know I'll need homemade convenience food.

So you can see that my freezer is an important part of my pantry.  Not to mention it gets used to debug flour and stuff.

When we have a regular old storm caused power outage, I most often just leave it closed and it will stay fine for two days or more (longer in winter since it is in our unheated garage).  Sometimes I will grab a few things out of it immediately and then shut the lid and leave it shut until the power comes on.  I have one of those lights above the freezer that is battery operated so I can see even in a power outage.

In the winter, I don't worry about the freezer getting half empty like it is now.  It doesn't have to work very hard in a cold garage.  But in hot weather, I will keep it full even if it means filling water jugs three-fourths the way full and stacking them in the freezer.  That will help the freezer not have to work hard and will help keep it cold longer should a storm knock the power out... or as most often happens on our property, a squirrel gets to close to power lines!

So I hope these ramblings answers the question.  Yes, I do depend on the freezer as part of my usual pantry.  But for any kind of emergency preparedness, canning meat in a pressure canner would be a very good idea!  It will keep for a long time without refrigeration.  ;)

7 comments:

Deanna Rabe said...

We really are twins! 😊

I use my freezer much like you do. Right now I have two turkeys, bought after the holidays, stew meat, some frozen apple pie filling - made from a large amount of apples given to us by our neighbor, bread, butter, veggies. Bit by bit it adds up!

Thanks for answering my question, and giving me more food for thought with the frozen cookie dough!

Love you!

Terri Cheney said...

"How do I plan for such an event? I don't worry about it for there is nothing I can do in something that catastrophic. "

I love this statement, coming as it does on the heels of a quick conversation I had with a kindred soul/heart child of mine who is very worried over the state of the world at present. She is prepping hard trying to cover all contingencies which is admirable, but when she said she was lying awake at night or sobbing into the wee hours out of fear I told her that was enough of that! At some point we must just accept that we have no control over all things and trust that we're doing as much right as we possibly can with God's good help.

Living on Less Money Blog said...

I keep canning jars and lids in stock so that I could pressure can my meat if the electricity went out. I have a good size camping stove that uses propane and it works great for canning.

Good post!

Anonymous said...

I, too, use my freezer as part of my pantry. This last year I decided to can more because as you stated, canned food keeps a lot longer than frozen. I'm loving the canned zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, and green beans. Makes for such an easy veggie soup! Pam (SD)

Laura said...

I always learn something when I visit.
My pantry cabinet has some things in it that were mistake purchases.
Should I just accept that and give things away?

(odd canned goods that seemed like a good idea at the time)

Anonymous said...

May I show my ignorance and ask-"What is a doppelganger?"
I used turkey just as I would chicken--in casseroles, in soup, etc. so there's not much taste difference. I know some folks don't like just roast turkey because it is dry but you can use it in so many other ways. I always like to get extra when they are on sale as it stretches my food budget and is so convenient to have packages in the freezer. Enjoyed this post Keep up the good work (words)! Blessings, Sharon D.

Vee said...

We have no deep freeze, but I really like your method for freezing cookies. You made good use of your snow days.