The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Taking stock of winter stores

Frozen foodThis is a perfect time of year to assess the state of your freezer (or pantry) and change your hoarding goals for next year.  Every year, I try to guess how much of each type of produce we should save for the winter, and every year it seems like our tastes change and I wish I'd had more of some things and less of others.  This winter, our joy has been harvest catch-all soup --- when I'm feeling under the weather or am just in need of a quick meal, I thaw out two pint-sized servings, add a fried egg or bit of cheese for extra protein, and the meal is done.  Even though I froze seven gallons of the soup, we could have used more.

Chart of freezer contentsOn the other hand, our pesto column is nearly untouched.  Since we're now exercising a lot more moderation with pasta, I tend to make lasagna instead of pesto pasta or spaghetti with tomato sauce.  I can use up three quarts of vegetables in a single pan of lasagna, mix in two cups of flour (turned into noodles, of course), add a pound of meat and some cheese, and have a well-rounded, one dish dinner.

Greens are also going begging.  We love our greens year-round, but since we were eating them fresh out of the garden well into December, we just didn't put as much dent into the frozen winter supply.

I like to take stock now rather than later because I always make sure all of the food gets eaten before next year's produce piles into the freezer.  By April, I may have forgotten wishing for more soup in February and would just look at my freezer chart and assume that since we ate or gave away everything, the proportions were just about right.

Our homemade chicken waterer keeps our chickens happy and healthy year-round.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I've been using a version of your freezer/canning chart for two years now and I agree that our tastes must change every year. I make notes on the chart (10x more applesauce, less frozen corn) and then save them year to year to see how we're eating.
Comment by Fostermamas Fri Feb 18 19:28:22 2011
I think that chart is the best idea I ever got from Mother Earth News. I'm glad to hear it's serving you well too!
Comment by anna Fri Feb 18 19:38:03 2011
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