Tuesday, January 10, 2012

coming to a freezer near you...

We freeze food, water bottles, and ice.
Day five of the frugal challenge is about saving on groceries. Although I already posted about how to shop frugally without coupons last week, I did not mention a key player in our grocery savings: the chest freezer. While I lived without one for 14 years, I don't know what I would do without it now.

Why buy a chest freezer? For us, the answer is simple; we wouldn't be able to participate in a meat CSA as we are now. We are also considering purchasing a quarter of a cow to get more bones for stock and grass-fed ground beef, our tots' favorite. While your meat situation may be different, if you are frugal like me, the freezer will provide you many other rewards.

I admit that freezing is not the most environmentally friendly way to store food, but when you consider that we make food from scratch (thereby reducing our package waste and cost of travel) and support a local farm to raise sustainable, humane livestock, I hope it more than evens out our carbon footprint.

The Liberated Kitchen covered the basics on whether a chest freezer pays for itself (answer: yes!). She must have purchased a much bigger freezer for what it cost her. Ours is a 5 cubic ft. unit from Home Depot, which we got on sale for only $99 with free delivery! As LK mentioned in the link above, electricity costs are lower than you might imagine, less than $30/year for us.

Check out Simple Organized Living's list of foods you can freeze. This post has been very helpful to me, as my idea of frozen goods when I started on this journey was a couple of frozen dinners, some ice and bags of veggies, and a packet or two of meat. Now I am basically only limited by space constraints and my imagination! I haven't had a bust yet, and that includes most of a batch of gluten-free cupcakes (not iced) we made for Vivi's birthday last year.

When considering how you freeze things to fit more, check out Dinner: A Love Story's idea of freezing soups and stews flat in ziploc bags. We try to use glass only in our house (jars and pyrex containers), but I do keep ziplocs for the occasion a flat bag makes more sense. Don't forget you can also wash your bags, turn them inside out, and dry them for another use.

Momfilter suggests keeping a "stock pile" of veggie odds and ends in the freezer; when the bag is full, make stock! I've always done that with animal bones, but all my veggies have been going to compost in the past. Now I save the biggest scraps for stock.

Attainable Sustainable even notes you can keep the last bits of several kinds of sauce together and add them to soup as a flavor enhancer. But be sure to follow her tip of keeping like ingredients in separate containers (e.g. Mexican, Italian, etc.) so the flavor profiles match.

You see? The sky is the limit! Did I miss any of your favorite items to freeze? Tune in soon for when I also become a canning wizard (fingers crossed).

Smell ya' later,

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Editor's Note: This post is part of Seasonal Celebration Sunday, Monday Mania, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Frugal Friday, and The Homestead Barn Hop.


Joy at The Liberated Kitchen said...

Great tips! We did indeed get a bigger freezer - and we have another one on the way! Our 9.4 cubic foot is coming into the house (don't ask me how we made room)... and our new one is arriving tomorrow and going in the garage. Now that the kids are 11 and 12 and eating more than me (no small feat) we just need more room to accommodate things like a year's worth of beef, lamb, and pork. We also wanted more freezer space since Kelsy starts her student teaching this spring. She's the one who normally does most of the canning so we wanted to be able to freeze things instead. Here is our buying guide: http://theliberatedkitchenpdx.com/basics/how-to-buy-a-freezer/

When the apocolypse comes we'll just have to can it all up over an open fire or something. For now we're enjoying the electricity. We don't worry about short outages because a full freezer stays cold for a good while. When the freezer isn't full, we put jugs of water in it to help with the thermal mass and keep the bill lower.

The Lone Home Ranger said...

Thanks for sharing the buying guide! It would have been really helpful to me so I hope others will take a look.

Emily Sefcik said...

A freezer is totally on my list...

Rebecca said...

Hi! These are great tips indeed. If you grow your own produce or are serious about living frugally, then it has to be worth doing even with the capital expenditure and running costs- it still has to be the way to go, I agree!
I'm hosting a weekly linky over at Natural Mothers Network which is all about seasonal celebration and would love it if you popped over and linked this post! It would be great to introduce your blog to my subscribers! Seasonal Celebration Linky http://naturalmothersnetwork.com/seasonal-celebration-sunday/seasonal-celebration/ Really hope to see you there! Rebecca x

Rebecca said...

Justine thank you very much for placing this post on Natural Mothers Network's linky: Seasonal Celebration! You helped make Seasonal Celebration a wealth of intelligent, creative and resourceful information and it's been such a pleasure for me and many others to read through each post. I am really looking forward to seeing you again Sunday evening or Monday! Rebecca x

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