Saturday, August 22, 2015

Taking Stock

OK... so my freezer inventory is finally complete...  Here's the damage:

Downstairs Chest Freezer
14 pounds(!) of cheese
4 12-ounce packages of scallops
6 jars of milk
6 jars of chicken broth
2 chicken carcasses, 2 gallon buckets of veggie scraps & 4 jars of veggie juice for making broth
6 eggs
2 small jars of chutney
3 frozen meals (2 lasagna dinners, one potato kale soup)
4 servings of frozen peaches
3 loaves of bread (2 are CatMan only)
Princess chicken
ice packs
15 packages of frozen veggies
1 pound butter

Upstairs Freezer
1 pound ground turkey
6 hamburger patties
1 hamburger bun
4 hot dog buns
4 hot dogs
3 chicken thighs
1 pound of chicken breast strips
3 pieces of salmon
5 pieces of cod
3 jars of marinara sauce
1 jar milk
Frozen veggies (about 6 packages)
Oatmeal bars (for bike rides)
Princess stuff (raw cat food, broth cubes, supplements)
Ice packs
1 loaf of bread (for CatMan)
1 jar of veggie juice and 1 package of scraps for making soup
3 packages of tortillas
2 very ripe bananas
1 pint apple & raisin compote
1 pint grape puree
1 pint of mystery something (I think I should toss it... whatever it is)
1 package smoked salmon

Hmmmm.... looking at this I can see that my food surplus falls into several definite categories.

First we have the things that I stocked up on because they were on sale.

The cheese falls into this category... seriously, it just kept getting cheaper! When it got down to $2 a pound I knew I didn't need anymore, but c'mon... $2/pound! How could I pass that up? Anyhow, the cheese is 2 kinds, shredded Italian blend that I use for making CatMan's special weekly lasagna treat, and shredded Mexican blend that I use for everything else. Anyhow, I'm not actually in a hurry to use this up, because the current price is now closer to $4.50/pound - so it's more like I want to ration it until it goes on sale again.

The frozen veggies also are in this category, though the prices there were less spectacular and since veggies are more prone to freezer burn, I really do need to eat them up. The butter was also on sale, and it will get eaten quicker than I like to admit! The tortillas also probably belong here.

Next we have things that are waiting for me to have time to deal with them - by this I mean all of the stuff for making soup and stock.

Here's the deal... it's HOT here, and I the idea of simmering broth on the stove for hours at a time... well, it's just not gonna happen for a while. Someone suggested once that I could do it in a crock pot in the garage... and I have considered this... The thing is, I sorta suffer from an "out of sight out of mind" kind of problem, and there's a significant possibility that I might burn the garage down if I tried this. I suppose I could use the solar oven... but that would still leave me with soup to eat, and it's just hard to want to eat soup when it's 95 degrees out! Well anyhow, the soup fixins might have to wait until this fall...

Next we have stuff that I either make or buy in bulk and freeze because I don't use it very often - or it's for CatMan and doesn't get eaten often, or for Princess. The milk, the oatmeal bars, the bread, the marinara sauce & all the Princess stuff falls into this category. (Princess gets treats of roast chicken breast & chicken broth, but she consumes them in very small quantities, so I freeze them in ice cube trays and little packages so we don't waste it.)

Next we have stuff that I froze to save it from going bad. The eggs (check out Lili's page for info on freezing eggs - though next time I'll use slightly less salt) the bananas & apple compote all fall into this category. Need to use this stuff up!

Then we have the stuff that I bought because I had good intentions of using, or stuff that I made/put up at one point, but sort of forgot about it. Most of the meat & fish falls into this category (though I do like having some on hand... but not as much as I do!) The chutney, the ready to eat stuff, the frozen peaches, grape puree, and some of the frozen veggies fall into this category. Need to use this stuff up!

And finally we have the stuff I just don't know what to do with... ie the ice packs! So here's the deal, one of Princess' medications needs to be kept refrigerated, so when I order it, it arrives in a little Styrofoam cooler packed in ice packs. Oy! I really don't know what to do with either of these things... I think I have 3 or 4 coolers at this point and a pile of ice packs. I really don't want to just toss them. Any ideas what to do with them?

Well... one thing's for sure. I'm not gonna go hungry any time soon!

And I haven't even talked about the fridge, or the cupboards, or the garden (which is producing more food than I can eat at the moment...) Anyhoooo...

Part of me wants to just not buy anything else for a few months, but that really isn't totally reasonable. So I did buy some things for making CatMan's lasagna dinners - he's not exactly on board with these sorts of challenges. And I did also have to buy some chicken gizzards to make broth for Princess... so now I'm trying to eat up all of the cooked gizzards.... arrrrrg! Plus - Colorado peaches are in season, and I'm NOT gonna miss that, so I have bought some peaches (ok and some grapes and apples too - but that's all... well, except for that one little pint of Ben & Jerry's....)

So there you have it. I think it may take me a while to make a meaningful dent, but at least I know I don't need to buy frozen veggies, cheese or meat/fish for a while!

Any recipe ideas jump out at you?


  1. Well, that was a good analysis. You do have a lot of meat and cheese, but it sounds like you have a plan.

    I have a friend who gets food delivered in large ice chests. She gives them away and people are happy to get them. Each of our cars has one in it that's always there to put food in when were running errands. You could probably use the ice chests as some kind of planter, but I think you would get happy takers if you tried to give them away.

    1. I did put one in the car... of course I seldom use the car, and when I do drive to the store... well, it's only 4 blocks away, so there isn't much need to keep things cold! I think I should try giving them away.

  2. Rather than a no-spend period, you might think about a challenge where you focus on using stuff you already have. The important thing is not to buy more of what you already have (or worse, some cheaper substitute because you're in the mood for the thing but forgot you had it in the freezer and are making do).

    About your coolers and ice packs--I don't know how big they are but they might be handy for packing lunches or party foods. As for the extras, I can't just give you a good idea, but I can brainstorm ideas you can check out:
    * ask the company that sends them to you if they would like them back or have ideas for recycling them
    * ask your vet if they would like them
    * ask at one of those places that spays animals for free/cheap or other clinics or shelters if they would like them
    * if they would be handy for lunches,ask your neighbors or put them out in your yard labeled "Free lunch coolers."
    * donate them to Goodwill

    No recipes come to mind. Except there is such a thing as cold soups. Most of the ones I know about are pretty unhealthy fruit soups, but there is also gazpacho. You can also use veggies in salsas and baked goods.

    1. Ha! I'm totally laughing about the gazpacho suggestion. For reasons that are not clear to me, cold tomato things totally turn my stomach. Tomato juice, gazpacho etc... it makes no sense, but there it is.

      Anyhow, I don't think that 1-800-Pet-Meds will take them back, but you have some good suggestions there. I think they're a bit big for lunch coolers - they're like a foot square (why one needs a cooler this big to ship a bottle of pills is beyond me.) It's funny, back before my stepmom retired from her medical practice, she was always trying to pawn coolers off on me... I never understood it before! I think Goodwill sounds like the surest bet.

    2. Ha! Then I withdraw the gazpacho suggestion!

  3. Well, now you know what you have and why you have it. One of the things that might help you bring your stock down to reasonable amounts for a single person is to start making everything you have as user friendly as possible. Prepare some of the frozen veggies, cheese and meat into mini-casseroles, that you would just heat and eat after long bike rides. Make some breakfast burritos with the tortillas, eggs, cheese for something quick to prepare.

    If you make things that you can just easily heat up, you might be more inclined to use all of this. As for the stuff to make soup stock, I'd just delay that for a month. In one month the weather will have cooled enough that making soup might sound appealing.

    For your coolers, what about craigslist, freecycle or a community facebook page?

    Good luck. My freezers are currently so packed it makes me a little anxious. But I know that what I have will carry us through all of fall, and probably most of winter, for meat, and most of our veggies.

    1. Excellent suggestions Lili! I used to be a master at making ready to eat stuff, but I sorta fell out of the practice since I'm home all the time. It's especially bad in the summer when I tend to favor salads - easier to open a can of cooked salmon or use a hard boiled egg on top than to cook up a piece of meat or fish. But making casseroles would totally help me use this stuff up.

      And the items I should list on Craigslist or Freecycle are numerous. Perhaps when I get my web page work finished - or at least once I get to a good stopping place, I'll take on the project of getting rid of a bunch of stuff.

      Full freezers are such a mixed blessing. It totally killed me to pass up chicken leg quarters for 39 cents a pound last week - but literally, there was nowhere to put them!

  4. At $2 a pound, I wouldn't have room for anything else but cheese. Great price. Best yet, if the power goes out, the cheese will still be good no matter what.

    1. I know, right? I couldn't believe it when I saw that price!

  5. I agree with Lili about making the stuff as easy to use as possible. I know if it's too much of a chore to deal with, stuff is far more likely to languish in the freezer at our house.

    We've been getting a lot of fresh fruits in our CSA box, and I can't drive past a stand with blackberries, so we've had a lot of fruit to deal with. I found several really good baked oatmeal recipes on Lynn's Kitchen Adventures. We made several batches of those, then froze them in individual servings for quick and easy breakfasts during the work week.

    As far as your ice packs and coolers, do you think a homeless shelter or some organization that helps folks with back to school stuff might want them? Or your local fire department? Maybe anyone who has to be out in the heat a lot?

    I'm seriously envious of your cheese deal!!! We eat a lot of cheese, and I would totally stock up at that price.

    Does Princess eat the chicken gizzards better than other parts of the chicken? We're dealing with some picky/reluctant eating at our house right now, so I'd love to know if that works out better.

    1. Hey Danielle,

      Well... I've been working on making "ready to eat" things. I used up the bananas & some macadamia nuts that were hanging around making a batch of banana nut muffins, and most of the cod and frozen spinach making a baked fish Florentine thing (yummy!)

      Anyhow, good suggestions on the coolers & ice packs. I think my main issue is just finding the time and energy to deal with them!

      So chicken gizzards... actually what I did with them was to make a broth for Princess. She has kidney disease, but also heart disease, so we have to be really ultra careful about giving her sub-Q fluids. So I've taken to making simple broths for her to make sure she's getting enough fluids. I freeze them in ice cube trays and give it to her a few times per day. She totally LOVES the gizzard broth and since it's high in vitamin B-12 it's really good for her. The gizzards themselves are pretty tough and chewy, so I'm not totally sure how she'd react to eating them. I did some research before I used them for broth - just to make sure they weren't too high in phosphorous or something else hard for her to process - and discovered that lots of people who feed raw foods include gizzards because they're high in taurine (when they're raw.)

      Soo... I dunno, I suppose it's worth a try! My current trick for getting her to eat when she's picky is to lace her food with a few Friskies Party Mix treats. She chases the treat around the bowl trying to pick it up, and in the process downs all of the canned cat food!

      Good luck with your picky eater... I totally understand how hard it can be!

  6. Wow that's quite a tally of food and my first thought was that you are way stocked up on cheese. Have you also done an inventory on your pantry items to see what you can make with the combined freezer and pantry foods? I'm with you on those peaches. I can never have enough peaches. No matter how many I put up each year they never make it until the next season and I reluctantly have to go without.

    I don't know if you can eat rice, but I'd say a good stir fry would use up the eggs and veggies and you could add a bit of your cheese, if you are willing to use some of it up.

    Speaking of gardens, I just read where one person grates her zucchini and drys it then stores it to add to all kinds of foods such as soups, spaghetti sauce and even meatballs. I don't know how your zucchini is doing this year but you seem to have a lot of it each year. Here's the link if you are interested.

    1. Stir fry is a great idea and definitely on my list.

      I think I've also narrowed down another part of my problem... I spend most of my time eating everybody else's leftovers, so I never get to prepare anything for myself! That's an exaggeration, of course, but CatMan came over for dinner tonight - which left me with several pieces of leftover lasagna - as it does every week. I've tried freezing the leftovers, but I can't seem to find a way to defrost it and reheat it that does't leave it all dried out... gotta figure that one out. I've tried freezing the pieces in a separate lasagna dish until I have enough for an entire lasagna, but then you have a giant frozen chunk that's really hard to defrost and reheat evenly - maybe freezing them in single pieces and then re-assembling the defrosted pieces into a lasagna for when he comes over? Hmmm....

      I have a bunch of canned salmon in the fridge that I have to eat in the next day or two... before I open another can - because Princess gets a few spoonfuls of the juice each day to counteract picky eater syndrome. I wonder if I can find some way to make "salmon broth" and freeze it in ice cube trays or something rather than relying on the juice from the canned stuff - which leaves me with a surplus of canned salmon to eat up.

      And part of the reason I have so much meat is that instead of eating what I had, I had been buying chicken to roast so that Princess can have her favorite roast chicken treats. I finally solved that one by freezing the breasts from the last chicken I roasted in tiny little packages and defrosting them one at a time.

      Anyhow, I love the idea of drying zucchini instead of freezing it, because, to be honest, defrosted zucchini just isn't the same - it gets so mushy! But the link didn't come through for some reason...

  7. I love cheese! Can't say I blame you for picking it up at that price. At least now you know you have it, and can work towards eating it up. As for those cooler things...maybe the neighbors would want them? I suppose it's still picnic season.

    1. Yup... not gonna run outta cheese any time soon!

      And in terms of the coolers, I think I just have to commit to trying to get rid of them... you know, rather than just sitting around whining about it! :-)


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