It’s that time of year when, among other things, I start nesting for the winter. The drapes are up on the kitchen windows and in the living room. Afghans are on sofas, warm comforters are on beds, and rugs have been rearranged to be sure the oak floor in the front hall is protected from slush and ice-melt.
My winterizing includes making sure there is enough food in the house to get us through the bleakness of coming months. It’s not that we can’t get out to the nearby grocery stores in inclement weather. Heck, we could even walk to one if these suburban roads were that bad (and they have been). It’s about managing the budget, and being ready for planned shortfalls.
My periodic freezer and pantry inventory is underway. I plan to make do except for festive Christmas and New Year’s dinners. Then I’ll be taking advantage of the usual January stock-up sales. No, I won’t be stockpiling for the zombie apocalypse, but I will be filling in my inventory with helpful ingredients from which to create healthy and delicious dinners.
Over the years, my style of feeding my family has surely changed. When we had four, including two growing tween/teens, and when I was working to pay Christian school tuition, freezer meals were essential. These days, it’s usually two, and we sometimes have DS#2, but only know weekly if and when that will be, because of his work situation. So I’ve been keeping more unprepared ingredients on hand, packaged and/or frozen in a variety of ready-to-use portion sizes.
Last year I found these bins at the Dollar Tree store, for, y’know, a buck. These are great because they are the perfect size to fit two on a shelf in my upright freezer, and one-up the side-by-side. I got white ones to blend in with the appliances. They are so helpful in keeping my FoodSavered items organized. Chicken in one, ground beef in another, etc. In the kitchen freezer, one is just for frozen fruit for smoothies (and when fresh things start to look a little old, they get prepped and popped in the bin). They also hold bags of pasta and other loose or opened things very well in the pantry.
In the basement I have a “pantry” which is really just one of these (similar) next to the freezer. I got it at Home Depot about 17 years ago, and just one is used for all my non-perishable food stock (well, I use kitchen cupboards, too). Any ventilated, sturdy shelf will do, of course. I got the sturdiest I could afford, and they have held heavy cans and jars with ease.
My FoodSaver is a terrific tool for stashing away food. I have a very old one, from at least 15 years ago, which is quite basic and not made anymore. A month ago I searched for a new fancy one for my Christmas wish list, but couldn’t find anything I thought affordable that was compelling enough to upgrade. There’s something to be said for an appliance made sturdy and right, lasting years and years. If you find a FoodSaver at a thrift store where they have tried electrics to be sure they work, you should consider getting it. I get my bags on sale, using Kohl’s cash and percent-off discounts, to save 30-40%. I have occasionally found them on clearance locally, too, for about 50% off, when canning stuff goes on clearance.
My break from inventory is over. Time to straighten things up, plan some meals, and rest secure in the fact that we are so incredibly blessed with daily bread….for weeks.
I have thought of doing a pantry challenge, but that just isn’t going to work for me. I will probably be doing that in February, when I am tired of going out in the horrible weather, and am up for a creative project.
How are you preparing for the coming of winter weather?