Day 223–A Freezer and How Much Do We Really Eat?

“Can I ask you a question? And I want you to answer me honestly…Are you preparing for the Armageddon?”

This was the response from a colleague when I mentioned my exciting news. I bought a freezer!!! Well, actually, Tom bought me a freezer, which makes it even sweeter 🙂 I thought about her response though. Am I becoming a food hoarder? Is this locavore thing out of control? And should I stop bringing jam to my colleagues if they are going to make snarky comments? After consideration, I decided “no” is the answer to all of these questions.

Here was my response to her question–if there were a local cereal season, for example, and you could only find high quality, fresh cereal for four weeks out of the year, you would have to make a decision and your options would be:

  • Eat as much fresh cereal as you could while it was in season, knowing you wouldn’t have cereal for another 11 months;
  • Eat the fresh cereal while it was available, then buy an inferior, sometimes tasteless imported cereal the rest of the year;
  • Stock up while the cereal is fresh and preserve it so you have enough to last you through the year (this would be a LOT of cereal and some might accuse you of planning for the cereal Armageddon)

As an example, here is the math on jam. We (mostly “I”) tend to eat one half-pint of jam per week (Ezekiel bread + homemade jam = breakfast perfection). So that is roughly four half-pints per month or 48 half-pints per year. My jam “gifts” = about 4 per month (employees, teacher gifts, neighbors, my boss–hey, in tought budget times, it can’t hurt). That’s about 96 half-pints to get me through a year. I currently have 70 half-pints of jam. With apples and figs still in season, I can make 96 happen. But see, who would think that a small family (or really, one person) would eat almost 50 jars of jam in a year? Seems like a lot, right? Thank goodness, I don’t have to consider my coffee consumption in the same way. I think my head would blow up.

I realized for truly the first time that most of us (including myself) have no earthly idea how much we eat. Because we tend to shop once a week or more, we really have no real perspective on say, how much jam or cereal we consume in a year. Same for pasta sauce, ketchup, peanut butter, bread, salsa, etc. And, in truth, we probably throw away a lot of that food because it goes bad before we have time to eat it.

Enter the freezer.

I’ve done such a great job socking away tomato sauce, berries, corn and pesto, that our kitchen freezer was full. And I mean it was so full, you couldn’t fit anything else in there. Which also meant that I couldn’t find anything in there, which made getting dinner ready a frustrating problem. So I was super excited to find an upright freezer on sale at Sears. It is just 56″ high, 22″ wide and 24″ deep, so it fits in a small space in our laundry room and we only had to do some minor adjusting to make the space for it. I am now ready for another round of making tomato sauce and blanching crowder and field peas for the winter. And I’ll be able to (hopefully) save some shrimp and grouper for those winter months when we don’t have fresh shrimp available.

Since this is the first year we are putting up fresh, local food, it remains to be seen whether this is too much or not. I think I’ll have a better perspective on that next summer. Until then, I’ll keep putting up the foods we enjoy most and I will be mindful to keep track of how much we really eat vs. what we tell ourselves we eat. It really has been astonishing so far.

If nothing else, I have a new appreciation for my great grandparents, who lived on a farm and had to feed 13 children, even in the Canadian winter. Mercy. Good thing they didn’t eat cereal.

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4 Comments

  1. The freezer is a life saver and we do tend to overuse it – definitely fresh is best 😀

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    Reply
  2. Gah it IS a good thing they didn’t eat cereal. I love the jam math. It’s true. We really have absolutely no idea how much we eat. I grocery shop on a pretty large scale once a month because nothing is convenient to our home and our local grocery store is OUTRAGEOUS (and their yogurt is always out of date), and then I fill in bits and pieces once a week when I’m out. It requires a good bit of meal planning, and stretching a budget using things like dried beans and homemade bread can be time consuming, but it makes a HUGE difference. When I first started shopping like this I was amazed at how much we actually eat in a month. You just don’t notice when you stop everytime you need something. Hurray for your freezer!

    Reply
    • That is great that you shop once a month–you have amazing budgeting skills! And really, now I know why my great grandmother always looked so mean. I’m sure she was like “WHAT??? You people want to eat AGAIN???”

      Reply
      • We probably look like hoarders at the grocery store lol. I still always have to restock my salad stuffs once a week. Lettuce doesn’t last. But I am SO sure that was exactly what your great-grandmother was thinking.

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