Food Stores

I decided last summer that I no longer needed a a large chest freezer, so I gave it to my sister who has a larger, younger family. She has since put it to good use, with good buys from the supermarket and cooked meals to get out and re-heat on busy days.

I decided to try and manage with my box freezer which is part of my fridge in the kitchen.

I had the fall back of a small chest freezer (my sister’s) if I felt I couldn’t manage.

My main worry was Christmas, but that came and went and the box freezer was more than ample.

I have just returned from the UK,and my stock up of sausage and bacon fits in there very well.

When I had the large freezer, I found that I was overbuying , especially on meat, and as we are only three at home now, our meat consumption has dropped off quite a lot. My daughter eats a hearty meal at lycee, so we tend to have a lighter supper, very often without any meat, as we both quite enjoy vegetarian food.

My OH works in the UK/ Germany, so is not here on weekdays, except when he works from home.

I have instead relied on my dry store cupboard and tin supplies, and have found to my satisfaction, that I am spending less money on food overall - I was buying meat and very often putting it in the freezer. The result was a freezer groaning with lovely joints of meat that would have taken an age to eat.

The summer visitors allowed me to slim things down a bit, and the remainder fitted nicely into the new box freezer.

I find now that I buy meat for the week, keep it in the fridge and use it rather than store it.

I dread to think of how much money was tied up in frozen food!

I find the dry stocks and tins mean that I rarely run out of anything, and there is always a meal that can be made from the larder stocks - I keep a close eye on my fresh fruit and veg, as that is the only thing that runs low from time to time.

I keep some part baked rolls in as well, and as we have a boulangerie in the village, bread is not a problem either. Milk, is of course UHT, so I count that as a larder staple.

I have everything from lentils to my own dried mushrooms in dry stocks and my range of tins and jars go from foie gras to tinned tomatoes.

Which larder staples to you rely on most?

I forgot to say that the keeping qualities of things like rice, beans, lentils in a dried form is really handy with a decreasing family - but just as flexible when I am feeding more - it takes the guess work out of shopping.

I have all of those staples too - The fruit thing I get around by using the jars the French are soi fond of, making jams and membrillo - I share around what I have as realistically it is far to much for us, as the old freezer showed me - when I started to empty it, my sister and I embarked on a mammoth jam fest to try and preserve it in another way!
Tinned tomatoes, sweetcorn and also mushrooms are handy - tinned mushrooms really don’t taste any different in casseroles and curries.
I was able to get blocks of coconut creamin the Uk, which is a far more compact way of storage I find.
I keep a large joint, or two in the freezer - usually lamb and chicken, which is handy for larger numbers.
I don’t keep a garden because of my back problems, so the glut usually only comes from our numerous fruit trees - pears, plums and cherries.
I am lucky in so far as people give me stuff from their gardens and I try and use it as I go - sometimes I cook something to take to my sister, as there is always someone who will eat it! This means I can cook without the worry of waste - which I detest!

Lentils and chickpeas, both dried and tinned are always in the cupboard, I use these in curries and soups with coconut milk all the time. I still love my freezer though! I spend all summer freezing cherries, plums, figs, blackberries, and apple, pear and quince compote that get used in my fat free cake recipe (baked around twice a week). I also mass make courgette, butternut squash and pumpkin soups and curries that we eat for winter lunches, and most of the tomato crop get puréed and frozen for pizza toppings or pasta sauces, but I’ve always got tinned tomatoes too. We don’t eat too much meat either and mostly it is fresh, very rarely is there room in the freezer for a large joint. At this time of year I can almost dig down to the bottom, but there is still a while to go before any of this seasons produce will be ready to freeze.