Friday, September 11, 2015

Filling The Freezer & Pantry For Winter

It is the time of year, once again, when I find myself busy preparing and putting up food for the cold winter months that lie ahead for us.  For a number of reasons I find it comforting to have a nice supply of food stocked up in our pantry and freezers, not the least of which is simply peace of mind.

When the weather turns cold the higher heating bills tend to dig into our monthly cash flow more than usual.  Needing less from the grocery store during those months means we'll feel the pinch a little less.  I also appreciate that I won't need to shop at all when the weather gets nasty and road conditions are iffy.

As fruits and vegetables are in season and ingredients go on sale I've been able to make jam, salsa and pickles for the pantry.  A good buy on strawberries last spring ended up as sliced berries for the freezer and a batch jam.

Early in the summer I bought whole wheat and all purpose flour in bulk when it was on sale.  I put it away in our chest freezer for long term storage.  I saved ice cream buckets to store it in, to keep it fresher and make it accessible.  Lugging those big bags in and out isn't much fun.

I also purchased a 25# bag of oatmeal on sale last spring.  Storing it in canisters and ice cream buckets makes it easier to store and access in our pantry.  As sugar has gone on sale I've purchased it and put it away in our pantry too.

We grew our own cucumbers this year and along with enjoying them fresh I was able to make a small batch of bread and butter pickles.  JalapeƱo and bell peppers went into our homemade salsa.  I found the other ingredients we needed on sale.  I've also slice up jalapeƱos and pickled them to enjoy with meals later on.  A friend gave us a nice bag of cucumbers and I sliced them into spears and put up seven jars of dill pickles.

When boneless skinless chicken breast halves went on sale for $1.69 a pound I bought 25 pounds to freeze and put up.  I laid them out on a baking sheet and froze them for three hours.  I then removed them, placing them into two gallon storage bags.  It took me an entire day to get them done because of limited freezer space to place the baking sheet but it was a great project to do while I also worked on others.  I set the timer on the stove so I didn’t get sidetracked and forget about it.  I ended up filling two of the two gallon Ziploc bags with chicken.

I bought 10 pounds of pork sausage and 10 pounds of lean ground beef on sale at Cash & Carry.  The sausage was $2.00 a pound and the ground beef $3.10 a pound.  I used my great grandmothers scale to weigh it out in 10 ounce portions which is the perfect size for our little family.  I ended up with 16 packages of each meat, 32 total, which I put into individual labeled sandwich bags and then all 16 fit perfectly inside a 2 gallon storage bag.

As I find cheese on sale I buy and portion it in two cups per bag.  Then I place the labeled bags all together in a larger bag and freeze.  When I'm ready to use the cheese I take out a package, place it in the refrigerator and thaw.  It thaws out perfectly every time.

Case of tuna at 39¢ a can
Canned goods, oils, spices, beans, rice and pasta are all other items I buy in quantity as they go on sale for really good prices.  Any chance I have to save additional money using coupons I take full advantage.

$1.88 a bag

I recently added 10 pounds of potatoes and 10 pounds of onions to our supplies.


  1. You're pantry stuff looks great. But I'm wondering do shop Costco ? I get there big bag of sugar for under $5. And potatoes a giant bag for @6, I put in 15 potatoes I. The oven at a time and then make double stuffed potatoes. Makes for and easy potato bar dinner!

    1. I love Costco potatoes. I don't shop Costco anymore because I can't justify the membership expense. Cash & Carry has no membership fee and they are pretty comparable with their food.

  2. Hooray for planning ahead. I do that also and try to always have a well stocked pantry and what tiny bit my freezer in the fridge can hold full. Not cost advantageous to be running to the store all the time. Plus buy it on sale! Win.

    1. Thanks! I feel so much better heading into winter prepared. And I saved a lot this year so that always makes me happy!

  3. Wow Dana, you are really prepared for winter !!! I'm impressed !!!
    I've been trying to stock up on canned goods when they are on sale. I'm dating and storing them in the basement. I learned my lesson last winter when times were "lean". Little One and I had only eggs, soup, PB&J and some chicken legs to eat for two weeks. It was tough but we made it to the next pay day. I promised her that will never happen to us again.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas and thrifty pointers with us, I really appreciate it.
    Vanessa B

    1. Sure thing Vanessa! Lean time make us wiser don't they. With three mouths to feed plus our kitties and chickens I don't want to be caught short. Everyone is counting on me. :)

    2. I think the only ones that were eating well during that two week period were our kitties. I buy the big bags of cat food and store it in a plastic bin. It's more cost effective to buy it that way.

    3. I do that too! Those little bags are a ripoff. Plus if I have coupons and wait for a sale it is even cheaper to buy the big bags. Lucky for me my kitties eat really well and it doesn't cost me a lot.

    4. We just started keeping chickens this year and are finding they eat a lot more than we expected - we're spending a lot on chicken feed! Any tips on where/how to get chicken feed at the best price? (We're in Twin Falls, but we go to Boise regularly, too.)

    5. Chickens can waste a lot of food if you aren't careful. Check the ground. If there is food all over stop feeding them until they clean it all up. I have four chickens and a 50# bag of feed costs $16 at Zamzows and lasts two months. I also give them a cup of scratch grains every day and some kitchen scraps as well as dandelion leaves.

    6. Thanks for the tips! We let our chickens free range during the day, so we thought they would fill up on bugs and greens, but they still eat a lot of feed! You may be right about them wasting food - I'm going to start keeping an eye on that. I think I'm getting my feed for about $19.50 a 50# bag, so I'm going to look around some more for a better price...

    7. Chickens love to eat. Kind of like me. Ha, ha. I hope you can find a less expensive feed. You may even be able to get it online.


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