November 16, 2013 - A Challenge Accepted

Tiny Gardener threw down the challenge today, and I accepted the challenge.  I will, to the best of my ability, try to empty my freezers and pantry of excess foods between now and Christmas.

The freezers are stuffed.

The laundry room freezer.

The garage freezer.

The refrigerator freezer.  Not quite as stuffed as the others.

I got a head start yesterday, when I took two one-gallon bags of cherries that had been frozen since 2012, and turned them into 12 jars of cherry jelly.  Or cherry syrup.  I don't think it jelled very firm.

So, here's the plan.....

I took a quick inventory of what was on hand (mostly what was on top), and came up with dinner menus for the next 12 days.  Hopefully that will take me to Thanksgiving without going to the grocery store.  After that, there will be a few days of eating leftovers, then I'll take another inventory of the freezers.

11/16 Grilled salmon (freezer)
                Green beans (freezer)
                Scalloped potatoes
                Coleslaw
                Tartar sauce/lemon juice

11/17 Grilled chicken breast (freezer)
                Buttered peas (freezer)
                Baked butternut squash (storage)
                Tossed salad w. tomato

11/18 Pizza: pepperoni, pizza sauce and peppers (freezer)
                Mixed fruit cup

11/19 Roast turkey tenderloin (freezer)
                Mixed veggies (freezer)
                Mashed potatoes and  turkey gravy
               Waldorf salad
                Cranberry sauce
                Rhubarb (freezer) Pie

11/20 Grilled hamburgers (freezer) on              
                Homemade hamburger buns (freezer)
                French fries
                Lettuce and tomato

11/21 Hot turkey sandwiches (leftovers) on
                Homemade bread (freezer)
                Tossed salad

11/22 Chicken fried steaks (freezer)
                Mashed potatoes with country gravy
                Green beans & summer squash (freezer)
Sliced tomatoes

11/23 Chicken Mozzarella (freezer) with
                Marinara sauce (freezer)
                Mixed veggies (freezer)
                Whole grain spaghetti
                Garlic French bread (freezer)
                Tossed salad

11/24 Pork roast (freezer)
                Pork gravy
                Roasted carrots
                Roasted potatoes
                Waldorf salad

11/25 Chinese Pork & Noodles (leftover pork) with
                Hard cooked egg; chives; soy sauce
                Mixed fruit cup

11/26 Bacon (freezer)
                Scrambled eggs
                Hash brown potatoes (freezer)
                Homemade bread, toasted (freezer)
                Cinnamon rolls
                Chilled peaches

11/27 Chili with beans (hamburger freezer)
                Cornbread
                Coleslaw

11/28 Thanksgiving

Anyone else want to join in on the challenge?

33 comments:

  1. You are one brave lady! I challenged myself to do the same thing in September and I'm only half way to where I need to be...and I've not been to the grocery store once! We did get a break when we took a short vacation to Mississippi...thank goodness...My dinners were getting a bit weird!

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    1. Lynda, I'm not fooling myself into thinking the freezers will be empty by Christmas, but if I can just make a dent in them! I have green beans from 2012 yet, and Mr. Granny is going to rebel if he has to eat them more than once a week, LOL!

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  2. Woo!! I'm so happy you are in!

    I just finished my freezer/pantry lists, so now I need to sit down and figure out some delicious dinners. I may have to hit the market for some limes and cilantro. I just can't have beans and rice without those ingredients, and I have a TON of beans and rice in my pantry...

    By the way, I saw the bacon up there in your freezer... I feel like ANYTHING can be made awesome with bacon!!! But I am not buying anything like that.

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    1. Ashlee, luckily I bought four pounds of bacon at Costco this morning! And 10 pounds of chicken breasts. Bacon, chicken and beans....I'm good to go!

      I have no idea what is in the depths of my freezers. I think a lot of zucchini and rhubarb, but also the good stuff like strawberries and raspberries!

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  3. Good planning! Is it easier to keep track of two little freezers instead of one big freezer? I am not very good about staying organized! Good luck! Nancy

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    1. I don't think it's any easier, Nancy. I still lose stuff in both of them. I'd like to get them emptied so I could start all over, and hopefully be better about what goes where. Like all the meat in one, fruit and veggies in the other, and breads and dairy in the third. I know I'd never be that organized, LOL!

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  4. If there is one common link in most of the blogs I read, it's having more than one freezer-LOL!. I have 3 chest freezers: a 7 cu. ft,(meat) a 14 cu ft (grains/breads/baking supplies) and a HUGE monster (21 cft for fruits and veggies)
    I'm making trips daily between all of them....so I guess I'm doing this challenge without knowing it.
    It's neat seeing your menu plans--I had forgotten about chicken fried steak--OH YUM!!!!--I'll be putting that on my menu plan again. How could I have forgotten one of my old favorites????

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    1. Sue, there will be no "fancy" cooking in my house. Mr. Granny and I grew up in the 50s, and that is still where our tastes lie. Chicken fried steak wins out over kale stew any day! I have even quit subscribing to the magazines I used to love for their recipes. I have seen very few that I'd actually use! The only ones that usually look good are for desserts, and we've pretty much given up the sweets for our everyday meals.

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  5. Well my freezer has to last me until spring so I don't want to eat it by Christmas. I really need to clean my refrigerator freezer. I haven't done that in ages. Watch me find something with eggplant or peppers in it.

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    1. Daphne, I know I won't be able to empty mine by Christmas, but I'm curious to see what I have down at the bottom, and just how old that stuff is!

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  6. Outstanding!!!:-) You are my "freezing mentor"-lol I hope once our broken freezer is replaced I can freeze more things next year. I was thinking of getting a smaller one next time.Do you have any suggestions of size, types, or brands that you found work best? Do you like the top opening ones?

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    1. Robbie, both of my chest freezers are small, as I had one of them in AZ and the other here at home so each was only used 6 months of the year. They work well for me now, as the smallest one fits in my laundry room and is used for everything I might be using in the near future (meat, milk, bread) and the larger one in the garage holds mostly garden veggies, fruit and everything else that I can't fit in the small one. I like the chest freezers best, even though things tend to get lost much easier, and you might have to dig down for what you want. I try to keep my stuff sorted into small baskets that can be easily lifted out, but as the freezers begin to fill up I find myself just tossing everything new in them helter skelter. I think the chest freezers, non-self defrosting, keep the foods much better and longer. Self defrosting freezers that continually thaw and freeze are nice for not having to clean them so often, but I find ice crystals forming on the foods. Ice cream, stored in the chest freezer, keeps longer and tastes fresher than when I keep it in the fridge freezer. As far as brands go, it doesn't seem to make much difference. I usually buy Kenmore, but my smallest freezer, a Kenmore, was made by a different company that is now sending me a yearly check because their advertised energy use costs were either wrong or deceptive. On the other hand, Sears is making them do that, so yay for Sears! Also, my $$$ Bosch dishwasher began performing badly in its 2nd. year, and died in its 3rd. year (it was only used 6 months of each of those years, so basically I got 18 months out of it). I got a new Kenmore for less than it would cost to repair the Bosch, and it gets the dishes cleaner than the Bosch ever did!

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    2. I am copying this to share with my husband. We need to do something about our freezer situation. It seems that everything breaks so quickly these days. We moved into our home and we used the original appliances for the first 5 yrs! They were the ugly harvest colors ( late 60's/early 70's), but they ran forever! These new things just keep on breaking. Thank you for your sound advice:-)

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  7. Ha! My freezer doesn't get packed as it once did when my children were kids and still lived at home. Not really that much to clean out, but I admire your ambition and organization. Yay Granny!

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    1. Gammy Tammy, if I wasn't a food hoarder I wouldn't need so much freezer space, LOL! Mr. Granny and I don't eat enough to keep up with all I grow and freeze. It's a good thing my dogs love green beans.

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    2. LOL... my Dalmatian (who is no longer with me) loved carrots. When I opened the back door, she would run straight to the carrot bed and wait or me to tell her it was "OK" to dig one or two up. It was so funny to watch. I've heard chickens love garden scraps. (big smile)

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    3. Gammy Tammy, my Annie would dig up all the carrots if she could get away with it. I have to laugh at her. She can be way on the other side of the house, and I can get out a carrot and begin peeling it, and she comes running! She knows the sound of a carrot being peeled!

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    4. That IS funny! They're so smart, aren't they? (smile)

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  8. I've been working on cleaning out my small chest freezer so we can take advantage of the upcoming turkey sales. I pulled out all the grapes this weekend and placed them in the fridge to thaw out so I can make jelly. I found some things that I didn't realize were in there, like zucchini and squash from at least a year ago. Luckily the chickens think these are a special treat.

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    1. Rachel (I didn't recognize the new profile until I saw your picture!), you're lucky you have chickens to feed it to. I'll be tossing mine into the garden garbage container and trench composting it through the winter. Except those nasty, rotten bananas I found. They were so gross they went down the garbage disposal! I have strawberries and raspberries that need to be turned into jam, but I like them as freezer jam so they'll just go back into the freezer! At least I think I can make enough room for them in the fridge freezer, where they won't get lost.

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  9. I have been trying to empty my freezer for years. It seems I get it half emptied and then fill it back up again. It really needs to have the frost and strawberry goo on the bottom cleaned up....

    Thought I would also let you know I am ordering those seeds this week. I will keep you post when I get them and send them out to you.

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    1. Dan, I actually did clean out the small one a couple of months ago, when we moved it from the garage to the laundry room. So it's clean, but full again!

      Thanks, I'm looking forward to the seeds. I have built two new tomato beds for them, where they will get more sun, and left a big space in between the beds for the melons!

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  10. All I can say is that I wish my freezer contained half the yummy stuff yours does! Your meal plan sounds so delicious!!

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    1. LOL, Dinah, I'm afraid my freezers are hiding a bit of yucky stuff as well! So far so good though, I've used up more frozen food in two days than I usually do in an entire week! I have freezer broccoli and freezer mashed potatoes simmering into a cream of broccoli soup for tomorrow's lunch, and found a can of opened frozen evaporated milk that had to be dumped. I'm slowly finding space in the refrigerator freezer!

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  11. Why Christmas?
    I don't know about you, but I don't foresee any great harvest to haul in for January....
    or is there some huge sale 'cycle' that happens around New Years that I have never noticed?
    For me, it's a cycle. Sometimes there's a lot of chicken on sale, or beef at another time, pork or salmon or ice cream at another time etc...I always though that we freeze to take advantage of seasonably lower prices, special pricing deals and awesome sales. Maybe I'm just I doing it wrong.
    This particular challenge isn't a good fit for me-now your 'dieting' method. THAT I can get into! I really like it. (That and fresh baked bread.) Love to see some pics of that yummy fresh baked bread. :)

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    1. I don't think "by Christmas" is a prerequisite Barbee. That's Ashlee's goal, but one I know I won't make. I would like to know what is in the bottom of my freezers by Christmas though, so I can concentrate on using up the older food packages. My goal is to find enough room by January or February to freeze all of my remaining butternut squash, so I can use those shelves for my grow lights!

      My counter was filled with fresh baked bread the other day, now it's mostly in the freezer. The next time I get that ambitious, I'll take pictures :-)

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  12. Didn't you mention about a fight with a Scale before?? ;-)

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    1. Hey, somebody has to eat that 1000 pounds of garden goodies! Besides, look at all the "grilled" and "roasted", and all the veggies and fruit. And....I only eat half portions. And.... I'm still 3 pounds under goal weight! It's all good, Cloud.

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  13. I do not know about the challengle, but can we throw up a cot in Mr Grannies junk room I am on the way. All that garden fresh food and home made bread WOW. Well I guess I had better wait for an invite. Ha Ha.

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    1. Frank....come on down! If you can't make the trip, I'll eat an extra slice of that homemade bread for ya, LOL!

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  14. Stuff in the freezer is supposed to stay in the freezer until the freezer goes bad and everything thaws and has to be thrown out. What are you thinking?!?

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    1. I like your way of thinking, Langela. :-D

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