I’ve talked about eating healthy and affordably before. Two keys to succeeding in this area are to pounce on sales and to actually use what you buy. Let me assure you that I practice what I preach!
We try to eat only quality meat (i.e., organic and/or local and humanely raised). We’ve got our beef and pork needs covered from shares we buy from local farms, but for chicken and lamb we rely on Whole Foods. Since the good stuff can be pricey, we almost always wait for sales. Last weekend, Whole Foods was offering $10 off a $50 meat purchase. We made a special trip downtown to take advantage of that offer (ganging our trip with some other errands and a nice Saturday morning urban hike). Even better, most of the meat we purchased was already on sale, so we got double discounts, and came home with some really nice chicken breasts, bratwurst, chorizo sausages, ground lamb and a small lamb shoulder roast.
With a new supply of meat and the results of my weekend “cooking now to eat well later” project, I needed to take a hard look at what was already in my basement freezer. In goes the new goodies, out comes frozen homemade chicken stock (as an ingredient for said project) and a whole mess of chicken thighs that need to be used soon (and they will, tonight, in chicken curry). We have a few previously frozen meals that need to be used soon (pasta sauce, chicken & veggie soup, chili), and I’ve worked then into my menu plan for the next few weeks.
Since everyone knows it’s bad to stand in front of an open freezer, trying to find something, we try to keep our basement freezer pretty organized. Every year, when we get our new shares of beef and pork, we inventory the butcher-wrapped cuts as we seal them in freezer bags and stow them on their designated shelves. Then I update and print out a computerized list. It has little boxes that we check off as we use things.
For miscellaneous items, I generally take a handwritten inventory and post it on the freezer door, adding and crossing off things as we use them. If I don’t do this, stuff gets completely forgotten about, so it’s essential! Not only does it significantly reduce food waste, but it’s also a time saver (much like the list of “recipes to make” I’m working on). Much easier to peruse a list of freezer contents or list of recipes than it is to go rummaging through the freezer (risking frostbite) or leafing through half a dozen cookbooks looking for the perfect recipe (risking frustration)!