Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Garage Freezer

In my last post, I shared information about stocking my kitchen pantry, an area that I take pleasure in keeping organized. 

Today, I would like to talk about the garage freezer.  I feel very blessed to have one.  When we moved from Florida to a rural area in Georgia, I soon discovered that owning an extra freezer was a necessity, especially when one has to travel a bit to a grocery store.

Thankfully, we now live in a different area of Georgia, where grocery stores are a-plenty.  The garage freezer is still in full use, since this frugal gal stocks up whenever there is a sale!

I admit that over the past several years, I have not taken the time to keep the extra freezer as organized as I do the kitchen pantry.

One night last week, after being inspired by my own blog post, I was struck with the thought that the interior of the garage freezer needed a serious makeover.  I decided to create zones: top shelf for frozen fruit, popsicles, and frozen yogurt,  2nd shelf for meat and fish, 3rd shelf for whole grains (including flours and coconut), and bottom shelf for leftovers.

The top shelf began to come together nicely.  I like my idea of corralling the 1/2 cup pumpkin purees and 1/2 cups of orange juice into plastic shoe boxes, instead of trying to stack them individually. 

My organization bliss was short-lived.  I had difficulty bringing my plan into fruition for two reasons:  1) The garage was hot, and despite employing the use of coolers and trying to work as quickly as possible, the freezer was quickly warming and defrosting the food.  2) I have waaaaaaay too many boxes of popsicles!

I moved the bags of coconut (see top shelf) to the side door, closed the freezer, and called it a night.  Agonizing over perfected tidiness was NOT worth losing all the food to defrosting!

It is now a week later.  The freezer is humming along, keeping its well-stocked insides preserved.  I have added blueberries and peach puree (upcoming blog posts) to the top shelf, used some of the foods, and shifted a few items here and there.  My desired zones are now more visible!

The Publix vanilla frozen yogurt was on sale this week, which explains why they are on the meat and fish shelf...there just wasn't room to put them anywhere else.  We still have too many popsicles, so they are on the grains shelf.  Sometimes, despite our organization desires, we just have to put things away where they fit, and simply be grateful to have them!

At least the door looks good, for now anyway....I hear there is a sale on frozen vegetables....

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stock the pantry....frugally!

As far back as I can remember, it seems I have always been frugal.  I am not suggesting that I purchase low-quality items; rather, I enjoy buying what I need and like, at a great price.  Sales + coupons (especially if they are doubled) make me smile!  There is something quite satisfying about being provided for, without blowing the budget. 

Still...there are times when I can be inspired to do better, as was the case this past week when I read the website of The Prudent Homemaker, and also her blog.  I am a visual person, and I especially appreciated all of her fabulous photos to go along with detailed explanations about how she is equipped to take care of her home and family. 

I was especially awed by The Prudent Homemaker's pantry.  Granted, her family is much larger than mine, but still....all those jars of dry beans and canned fruit, neatly organized and lined up on the shelves her husband lovingly set up for her....prompted me to do a little bit of frugal stocking of my own makeshift pantry. 

This past week and weekend, I bought a 20 pound bag of Jasmine rice (our favorite), 4 pound bags  of dried pintos and black beans, and several 2 pound bags of navy beans.   I have been saving jars with metal lids over the years that held wheat germ and tomato sauce.  They are the perfect size for storing exactly one pound of dry beans.  After washing and carefully drying my stash of jars and lids, I had so much fun weighing and filling!

I don't have the luxury of a pantry, a separate room, or even a closet for storage.  What I do have in my kitchen are several white, put-together cabinets.  

I like to keep the insides of my "pantries" tidy and organized.  The left "pantry" houses snacks, cereal/oatmeal, canned beans, pasta/rice, canned soup, and dry beans.  The middle "pantry" hosts our phone books, my cookbooks, and condiments.  The "pantry" on the right is dedicated for baking necessities.  Oooooo, seeing this picture makes me happy!  :)

My recent dry bean purchases have equipped me with 32 meals-worth of filled jars! Woo hoo!

See those soup cans on top of the navy bean jars? I will use only 1/2 can of chicken broth and 1/2 can of tomato soup per jar (1 pound) of beans.  When I prepare the first batch, I will freeze the leftover soups for the second one.    I am tickled to have gotten a pretty good deal on those soups this past week.  I had a coupon for the chicken broth, and the tomato soups were on sale for $1 each!

Are you now inspired to stock your pantry? If my blog post didn't quite do it for you, make some time to check out The Prudent Homemaker.  She has a delicious pasta e fagioli recipe that just might prompt you to stock up on supplies for it!  After preparing the dish last week and hearing the words, "This recipe's a keeper!" from my husband, you bet I was delighted to go grocery shopping....frugally, of course.