Friday, January 4, 2013


It's time for my annual challenge to EAT TO THE BOTTOM OF THE FREEZER.  

This is a challenge I look forward to this every year.  You can read the post I wrote last year about this event.  It's always fun and it's a great way to force yourself to use up the bits and pieces that accumulate in the freezer and the pantry.

I'm starting the challenge officially next Monday January 7th and going till the end of the month.  This allows for the weekend to have a look at your supplies and see if there are any glaring holes - no sense setting up for failure.  Of course if this was an emergency you wouldn't have the weekend to stock up!

There's always EGGS!

The rules for this challenge are really whatever YOU decide they are but this year I am committing to purchasing ONLY fresh fruits and vegetables.  I know we have some bread in the freezer but when it's gone we'll be back to making it from scratch.   I have all the ingredients for baking and cooking and at this point I can't imagine what I might run out of but that's one of the points of the challenge.  When we buy bread for example we don't really give much thought to what's in it - or at least what we would need (and how much of it) to replicate a loaf of bread. I learned from the last challenges that baking our own bread required more wheat than I thought it would. 

My goals are these:

  • To clean out the freezers and reorganize while I'm at it.
  • To go through the kitchen cabinets and eat all the random leftover things - this may require some ingenuity!
  • To go though my food storage area and rotate out any food nearing it's best before date.
  • To make note of the ingredients we need to make/bake/cook that we normally just buy pre-made - a continuing journey away from processed foods.
  • To eat all the squash that is starting to "go" in my improvised cold cellar - that still is not working very well.
  • To begin some new good habits in cooking and baking more from scratch.
  • To save January's budgeted grocery money and add it in our emergency fund.

    This challenge is about more than JUST saving money it's also about learning the age old maxim of "making do".   How creative can we become?  Can I still make healthy nutritious meals without multiple trips to the grocery store.  Can I mange without ANY trips to the grocery store?  DH and I would go for this option - the kids would revolt without bananas!

    My daughter is a great help and support when this time of the year comes around.  She is always up for it and loves coming up with ideas for how to stick to the challenge. She is a most faithful baker as well. We're starting off with quite an advantage over some of you.  My chickens are laying madly right now (more on that soon) so we have eggs.  Our freezers are filled with frozen fruit and vegetables, home grown chicken and organic ground beef and hamburgers plus I have lots of food canned as you know if you've been reading this blog for any length of time.

    Last year we ran out of butter and came to an ethical dilemma - do we go ahead and buy the butter or stick it out instead?  We were making our own bread - think warm fresh bread with butter - and doing really well on the challenge so we decided to "splurge" and buy 1 pound that we would then stretch till the end of the month.  It's not about keeping to the letter of the law so much as the spirit of the law.  If you learn something - you have not failed!

    Two of the most common comments I get to this challenge are: 
    • "But I'll eat all my food storage!  All the work I did storing it up goes to waste"  - I disagree on the basis that food needs to be rotated anyway.  This is just a tool to help us do that while making decisions about what we have stored and whether it is the most appropriate for our families.    If you choose you can set aside the grocery money and buy food to replace your food storage stores.
    • But I'll miss all the great sales that I want to take advantage of to build my food storage supply."  I'm OK with shopping for those items as long as they DO go into your long term storage and don't get eaten in January. 

    This challenge always inspires me.  I think of how many times I head to the store for a few things and come out with "stuff" I didn't know I needed.  I become more mindful - at least for awhile - of what is a NEED and what is a WANT.

    Anyone else up for the challenge??  You can play by your own rules or choose to do it for a shorter length of time.  Leave a message and let me know.


    1. Normally 3-4 times a year my partner and I do a pantry challenge, which sounds very similar to your freezer challenge. We simply skip a week's grocery shopping, and we make do. For me, it's a game. Admittedly, towards the end of the week it is a lot like a round of the show "Chopped" with only a bunch of really disparate ingredients left. But we save money, don't let food go to waste, and get to be resourceful.


      I'm in, I normally do the ten dollars a week, which is pretty much fresh fruit and veggie..


    4. Read your artical and loved it. I am at the stage where if I could make it, i only buy the ingredients, never the finished product. That said, I cannot count the times that i ran out of a certain ingredient. Well, so apparantly did our anscestors. I found an old cookbook that showed me substitutes for darn near every ingredient.Regarding butter, in a glass jar put 6 level tblsp of clean fresh melted beef fat, 6 level tblsp of sweet milk and 1tsp salt and shake vigourously. If you have cream, butter can be had by placing in a glass jar and shaking until it becomes butter and buttermilk. Great workout.

    5. Hey there, I just came across your website whilst looking up stuff on Disaster Cooking,(I'm trying to prepare the kitchen this week!) good stuff, we need more info like this out there I think!

      I just started a Kickstarter campaign for a survival cookbook. "Cooking with Fire: The Disaster Cookbook. How to cook when the lights go out." If you are a fan of cooking or disasters, check it out, we can use the support! ;-) We also have some really swell pledge rewards!

      Thanks and keep up the helpful work!

    6. ROFL I am at the screw up enough courage to try it. I am such a wuss