Friday, January 29, 2010

Food Friday: Managing food storage

First a caveat. Although I am better at managing food than before I started this food storage endeavor, I am by no means perfect. I will confess right here for the whole world wide web to know that; yes, sometimes, there are unidentifiable, aged, mummified or otherwise altered from the original recipe containers of previous meals in my fridge.

But not as much as there used to be:)

First step to managing food storage is incorporating a routine of regular inventory of our pantry. There is all this food I have put up and I want to make sure that 1) I don't find myself with a pantry full of pickled beets that were lost behind containers of dried beans 2) none of the jars have lost their seal leaving the food inside spoiled 3) that jars did not get moved around; mixing the jars of beets that were canned the year before pushed to the back, while we eat our most current beet effort. So about once a month I go into the cupboard. I bring a damp cloth to wipe down the shelves. I bring my black Sharpie marker and masking tape to replace any labels that may have fallen off and I make sure everything is dated.

If it seems that during inventory, I find we are heavy on one item I will make a note to myself to incorporate that food into our meals more. One thing I have not become very good at is trying not to eat all the tomatoes right away. We always seem to finish those first. Ideally, I would like to better manage the pace with which we consume some things so it last longer through the winter season, but then ideally I would like to not open moldy containers in my fridge too;)

I also take note of those grains, oils, sweeteners are low in order to determine if I will need to put these things on my bulk order.

The freezer gets pretty much the same treatment. We keep our freezer in the garage so if we should lose power in the winter things stay pretty cold. I always bring a flash light with me because the lighting isn't that great and need to see to the bottom to get an idea of what is left in there. If there is anything that looks like it might be getting too frosty it is brought inside and put in a soup or bread.

As for the fridge, this is something that has gotten better with time and especially since I make meals for hubby to take with him when he is gone during the week. The best way I have found to manage this is to batch cook. When I make a pot of rice and beans, or soup, tortilla or hot dish I put a couple of portions in the freezer for him for the following week. I initially started doing this because I found that I would spend my whole weekend cooking for him for the week which detracted from the time we could spend together during his time at home. But a benefit to this has been that there the last bowl of soup that no one wants to eat for the 4th or 5th time does not sit there abandoned.

As for other leftovers, this has been managed with better planning and growing boys. For some things like mash potatoes whatever gets leftover gets put in bread or pancakes. Same for any leftover rice or oatmeal. When we serve steamed veggies they just get divided by the number of plates on the table so that there are no leftovers. If there should be any leftovers we either have them for lunch the next day or there is one meal a week, usually a lunch,that is comprise of only leftovers.

Last time, I cleaned the fridge out I noticed that we had a lot of jars of open pickles in there. So now there is only one shelf in the fridge that is designated for pickles. Same goes for jams and sauces.

Ultimately, I realized that not only is food waste a loss of money but also a waste of all the effort I put into food preservation.

How do you manage your food stream? Do you have a system you would like to share?

Next week, I'll share some menus from the coming week with you.

1 comment:

Nadine said...

I have a good food storage but these last 3 months have not used much of it like we usually do ...My father has been living with us and he eats differently and so I cooked differently...and let's just say this has been a very expensive venture. I need to go into my pantry and get things back in order. I always push the older stuff to the front so we use it first. I grind my own flour ...and must get back it. Convenience backing the norm these last few months...not good for our pocket books or our spirits. Our bodies need some detoxing from all that gross food and put more whole foods into our to find a way to incorporate this without cooking two meals.My father will not eat what we I have a problem...I am also thinking of canning those tomatoes I froze in the fall because I lacked of time...I have never taken freezer food to can but I am hoping it is ok...

Thanks for your informative it