Friday, May 21, 2010

Cold Room, Pantry, Freezer & Menu Planning

I have a huge cold room in the basement. Huge to me at least. It was one of the big selling points for me when we bought the house. It holds two large book shelves, and a shorter shelf. Two skids. 4 rubbermaid bins. There are two shelves that came with the house, both about 6 feet long. And room for more storage. I love my cold room.

I love my cold room because I live over an hour from the city. If I run out of something, it doesn't get replaced until I go to town. I love my cold room because I grow, forage and can as much food as I can through our short growing season. I love my cold room because I butcher my own meat, and sometimes attempt things like making my own ham. I love my cold room because I don't have to worry about keeping extra drinks in the fridge. They're cold enough downstairs. I love my cold room because I can store large amounts of root vegetables over the winter.

On one bookshelf I keep mostly store bought canned goods. I have minimum amounts of items that I keep there, so that I don't run out unexpectedly. Like at least one extra bottle of ketchup, relish and vinegar. I also have room to stockpile items we use frequently, so I can stock up when they're on sale. Like 8 cans each of pasta sauce, mushrooms, and cream of mushroom soup.

The other bookshelf is filled with fruits, jellies, jams, fruit sauces & syrops that I can myself. The smaller shelf holds dill pickles, pickled beets, and pickled carrots from my garden. It also holds about 4 weeks worth of pop & drinks.

On one skid I keep a large box of lard that I buy from a restaurant supply store. Occasionally cases of canned pop, onions, carrots, and empty jars make their home there. This is where I kept my buckets of hams in the making, as well as my first attempt at raspberry vinegar. The other skid is devoted to potato storage. I grow what I can, but also buy 50 lb bags from a local grower when I run out of my own. We eat a lot of potatoes.

One rubbermaid bin holds three 10 kg bags of flour. One holds three large sacks of rice. One holds onions and carrots.

Smaller, more perishable food stocks I keep in the pantry cupboard in the kitchen, along with dry goods currently in use. That's the pasta, beans, baking supplies, corn starch, salt, sugar, etc.

I have two large chest freezers, roughly 20 cubic feet each. They're usually each at least half full. Hopefully by late spring I have them emptied enough to combine them into one freezer and do a proper cleaning before I start refilling them for next winter.

That brings us to menu planning. Normally when I grocery shop I buy large amounts of whatever is on sale. Around February things in the freezer start getting pretty skimpy. It gets harder to find those pork chops that I know are still in there somewhere. I start wondering why I keep buying green beans when I still have frozen turnip and dandelion greens in the freezer. So I start menu planning. I pull everything out of the freezers and reorganize it. I make a list of everything in there. Then I take an extra calendar and start planning out menus from what I have left in the freezer. This year I had enough food to last through May.

Now it's the end of May, so I just went through the freezer again. There's still a ton of food in there. I didn't stop grocery shopping when I made the first menu plan, and sometimes leftovers last longer than I originally expected. So I make a new list, and another menu plan. We're currently stocked up enough to make it through July. It's almost empty enough to do that cleaning now though.

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