Freezer Challenge

Since Kramer, my husband of 33 years, passed away, I’ve found I eat very differently.  Our years were spent with him farming and me making hearty meals for him.  I loved cooking and baking and he loved eating.  It was a match made in heaven.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again.  The making of a good cook is a good eater behind them…a good eater who doesn’t mind burnt food or cooking should have beens.  Kramer was all of that for me.  When we were first married, he lived through  some pretty terrible cooking.  He would pick up a homemade tortilla shell and ask me “which state I was trying to make”.  I had the worst time rolling out a circular tortilla with a rolling pin.  I’ve got room to grow…but I have come a long way.

Anyway…since he passed away I cook so differently.  I’m content with a sandwich and cottage cheese for supper.  I like my meat in more of a veggie mixture not just a steak only.  When Kramer was here, it was more of a meat and potatoes kind of supper.  He was also VERY big into desserts.  I always had something sweet here to eat.  He was great with me trying new recipes, but loved his old standbys too….so I was always baking.

In the last 6 weeks or so of Kramer’s life, he had a feeding tube.  It was the strangest thing ever.  I didn’t cook for him…I didn’t bake for him.  Life really changed for us both.

Well now that he’s gone, I’m left with two freezers full of steak and roasts and liver.  He liked it all.  I have lots of frozen apples and peaches as he loved apple crisp and peach crisp.  Seriously, that was likely the only fruit he ever ate except for grapefruits and grapes.

For about four months after he passed away, we used up food that was brought here when he was sick and after he passed away.  We got a lot of food from people and that was wonderful.  We so appreciated it.  We have all of that used…but now, we need to use up what we had.

Well, rather than all of the stuff end up freezer burnt, I’m making a goal to use it up.  We are eating freezer meals….not the kind people make and us at later date but meals that come from ingredients in the freezer until the contents of the freezer get to a more manageable amount.

The other day I walk down to the freezer and said we are eating the top three items in the freezer.  That meant the childcare kiddos had ham steak for lunch.  I’m done saving things for a different day….if I touch it, it’s going to be fixed and served.  The other two items we had for supper that night and the next night for supper.  I’m doing my best to let whatever my hand touched to the thing we make.  If I don’t, then I end up digging and digging and getting more frustrated with the whole process.

On the day I am writing this, I was especially proud of myself.  I used up a pack of frozen zucchini and make this…


You can find the recipe…. by following this LINK.

I also used up two packs of veggies with the childcare kids.  I sometimes get lazy and grab a can of veggies from the cupboard vs making the walk to the basement to get the frozen veggies.  No more of that for me.

From the looks of my freezer, I can make about five more of these cakes before the zucchini is used up…but even after that, I’ll have blueberries….so I’m guessing it will blueberry muffins I make next…maybe a fresh blueberry pie, but I better not…the apples and peaches would be better for a pie.

In the back of my mind I’m hoping I might be able to get down to using only one freezer.  Before we always needed two as we would get a beef each year from Kramer’s work as part of his wages…now after this is gone, I’ll be buying most of my meat so I shouldn’t need as much space.  I also won’t be freezing bags and bags of apples to make apple crisp…some yes but not 30 gallon bags of them.

Wish me luck and if you want to join me, I’d love some company and encouragement.  I’ll try to remember to post a few things on the Jo’s Country Junction Facebook page as I make them.

Feel free to send any apple, peach or blueberry recipes my way!!  Oh and stop by for the evening post, I have a different blueberry muffin recipe.  I told you…I’m serious about getting things cleaned out!

32 thoughts on “Freezer Challenge

  1. Hettie Pringle

    One of the best sentences I’ve ever read…. “The making of a good cook is a good eater behind them”. My hubby is exactly the same, makes me appreciate him more.

  2. Annie

    Funny that, I’ve gone on a freezer clean-out binge myself. Some interesting stuff in there! Forces one to be creative. ;)

  3. Karen

    I am doing the same thing. I still have part of a quarter of beef that needs eaten before I get the half of hog the end of January. I have raspberries and I make a crisp with them. Good luck to both of us to use the food in our freezers.

  4. Robby

    Making some applesauce with some of those apples would be easy and delicious. I use applesauce in a quick bread that’s delicious. That chain of transformation might be an interesting learning experience for your kiddos.

  5. Libby in TN

    Kudos to you for trying! I keep a freezer inventory sheet on the front of my fridge and try not to have anything older than 6 months. I also plan meals several days in advance so that I can allow for defrosting time rather than going for the cans on the shelf.

  6. Dian

    Our freezers are a lot like our quilt stash. We know we should try to use what we have before we purchase more BUT the “hunt” for just the right fabric or food item is such a part of the fun.
    Your recent white background purchases inspired me to look for similar items for my inventory. I don’t really need any like you did but the “hunt” is still fun.

  7. Cindy In NC

    This is one of my goals for 2020. Some years back when only the youngest of our four kids was home for the summer we ate off the freezer. I saved lots of money and had a nice clean freezer when school started. Although I cut way back on the number and variety of Christmas cookies I make, I’ve had trouble fitting them in the freezer because it’s so full.

  8. Cyndi Holman

    I need to join you in this. I know it will be hard—I keep buying and my freezer is currently crammed full. Maybe I’ll do an inventory of freezer and pantry today or tomorrow and make a plan. And yes, it’s just like my sewing stash!

  9. Tina in NJ

    Last Fourth of July, our 22-year-old freezer died temporarily, so we got rid of it with the bulk waste pickup in September. Turns out that thing was costing us $70 a month in electricity! I wanted to replace it with a smaller unit now that the nest is emptying, but I doubt I’ll win that one. My next task (after Christmas) is to clean out the upstairs freezer so I can use it more. We don’t have a garden anymore, so we really don’t need all that space.

  10. Hedy

    It’s so strange that we are both cleaning out our freezers. I only have a small upright and the other is the half of my fridge, but they were packed! I do have a husband but we just don’t need all that. I’m live in an area very populated with wonderful restaurants and I’ve decided to eat out more. I work too hard and have decided to take 2020 as a year for ME. You have a large family whom I believe might like some of your bounty, I’m giving some of mine away.

  11. Tracy

    Freezer clean out has been an on going process for me this past year. It started when my upright freezers compressor broke, I had to put everything in the smaller refrigerator/freezers. When my new upright arrived, I took stock and wrote down everything that was going into that the freezer on to magnetic white board panels that stick to the front door. As I use what I have I erase it from the board, and when I add to it I write it down, having the pens and board right on the door makes it easy.

  12. The Joyful Quilter

    Go, Jo, go!!! I really SHOULD follow your lead, but I just can’t bear the thought of it right now. That would take WAY too much planning (and more people who would eat whatever I cooked!)

  13. Norma

    I have had zucchini bread with blueberries in and it was very good. Not my recipe though!
    Yes, having a good eater does make you a good cook. We were very young when we married and my husband was very encouraging so I learned. As we’ve grown older and employment changed my cooking/ baking style has changed. We don’t eat nearly as many sweets as in the past. But my husband now raises and sells grass Fed beef so there’s always more in the freezer. I would love to have a running inventory as mentioned. We just had bow and gun deer season in Wisconsin so that had to go in too! So my freezers don’t stay organized(or SOMEONE rearranges). Thus I don’t always stay on top of things. That is my goal!

  14. Elle

    JO, do you have a foodsaver? Vacuum sealing a lot of that beef will keep it for several years, rather than getting frostbite.

    Apples: I like to chop them, sprinkle with cinnamon and microwave for 3 minutes. Fantastic and no added sugar. It’s a terrific snack or dessert for that slight sweet tooth. Satisfies the desire for sugar.

    I have a bottom freezer that has 2 drawers on top. The left drawer is used like this; I go out to the big freezer and bring in 3 proteins and a few veggies. That drawer becomes the next few meals. No running out to the freezer every day for the night’s meals. Since you feed your childcare kiddos, could take a basket down to bring up a week’s meal ingredients?

    I agree, using it all up! Save money rather than waste what you’ve already spent :-)

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  15. Sharon

    Boy Jo did you hit a nerve or what? We have a lot on the clean the freezer mission. Lost my husband of 33 years in August, and completely understand. Its just not fun cooking for one. Plus all you put up because.

  16. Lisa B

    I still have 3 freezers plugged in. This is a good reminder to consolidate and unplug. They were full of venison, fish, fish bait and a turkey or two. I gave a lot of it away as I live alone and the packages were family size as we liked the leftovers. One freezer the neighbors use. I think I’ll give them the freezer. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.

  17. LaNan Eldridge

    I like your idea of what you touch is what you are going to eat! I have a creamy peach pie recipe. I’ll look it up and share with you!

  18. Linda in NE

    You could always use some of the blueberries in your Sour Cream Blueberry Pie. I always buy some blueberries in season and freeze them just for making that pie. Love it. I’m going to have to print out a new paper copy of the recipe soon because the old one is getting pretty messed up with spills & such.

  19. Donna F

    I will have to think about recipes. One recipe I enjoy to use up small amounts of fruits and nuts is Amish Baked Oatmeal. I have a basic recipe then I add a cup of whatever kind of fruit I might have. Happy Eating.

  20. Karen P

    I’m working on cleaning ours out. I don’t care how good of a sale there is in the meat department I’m not buying anything. I don’t want things to get freezer burnt either. A girl has to do what a girl’s has to do. I’m making your zucchini and blueberry cake for our Christmas Eve get together…two less bags in the freezer.

  21. Susie Q

    If you can take the top three things upstairs to fix you can empty one freezer for good. What a lovely talent.

  22. Rhonda Russell

    I use a pressure cooker for blueberries with steel cut oatmeal and it is delicious. Now, I was NOT a fan of oatmeal until I tried steel cut oats. So if you don’t like oatmeal, I’d say give this a try and it might change your mind. I got it from Instant Pot Breakfasts Recipes for Healthy Living by Howard Mills as a free Kindle book on Amazon and it’s still free! (I even think I went looking for pressure cooker books on Amazon because of a post you wrote.) I love it because I can throw everything (except the frozen blueberries) in, set it and walk away. Once it’s done, the frozen blueberries (which I don’t even measure anymore I just put them in based on whether I want a lot or not) get stirred in and cool it down to eating temperature! I usually make a double batch so that I have a week’s worth of breakfasts with one prep and cook. I work at a school and I usually will eat my breakfast together with the kids as we watch the morning news and I get a lot of compliments that it smells good.

  23. Kathy

    I too am a recent widow and have the same goal! Empty the freezer and probably start to fill it up again. I shop the freezer for meals. Good luck and stay positive!

  24. Angie in SoCal

    Your posts are so interesting! We only have a small freezer at the top of our regular refrigerator. But even that can get stuffed. Thanks for the recipe. We love Zucchini cake. And blueberries!

    Merry Christmas,
    Angie in SoCal

  25. Vicki

    I am gong through the same changes in my life. I have always made full recipes, now I need to learn to make smaller amounts. Thank you for sharing how you are dealing with the freezer. I intend to follow your example. God Bless You and keep you in His loving arms!

  26. Linda Jarnecke

    I have my late mother-in-laws recipe for zucchini bread… the best eve as it includes pineapple for moisture and broken walnuts for some crunch.! One year I used the same recipe to make mini-muffins for the kids and kids of close friends. I was amazed at how fast they were gone and was asked to make more. Maybe you should try the mini-muffins also for the kiddo’s. Also great to give to friends in a basket.

  27. Margaret

    I understand entirely!! My husband has been gone now for almost 2 years and I am definitely cooking differently.
    Just about any opportunity I have I inflict my cooking on the neighbors. I have had no complaints yet.
    As for apples, I buy them by the peck and clean and freeze them for a special occasion or just because. II really don’t need a reason.
    But good luck. You’ll find your way. Try to keep smiling and laughing.

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