Last January, I posted about my New Year’s Resolution to stop pretending that food storage worked like a bank vault, and to start using up food from my freezer and pantry before I had to throw any of it out. I started with the bag of three-summers-old frozen blackberries that I found on New Year’s day, and continued in a similar vein through the winter.
So, you ask, how did it go? Was I able to clean out the freezers and empty the pantry of excess food? We-e-ll… here’s the story:
With the encouragement of readers, friends, and family, I worked at it. I posted frequently about Operation Use-it-Up until the spring, at which time I started filling the freezers again with seasonal bounty and became reluctant to admit that my food hoarding habits were getting the better of me. But still, I kept on Using-it-Up.
At some point in the early fall, when my freezers were too full to fit all the tomato sauce, I was utterly discouraged. It seemed like my push to use up my food had only driven me, like an equal and opposite reaction, to greater heights of canning, freezing, and general food storage. To deal with this, I cleverly diverted my blog readers on to a new topic, called Simple Summer Meals. Operation Use-it-Up seemed like a private failure.
But, I judged to soon.
Now, after a full year in action, I can honestly say that Operation Use-it-Up has been a success!
Ok, I do not have an empty freezer, but I do at least have a freezer that is a) only 3/4 full and b) most importantly – only holding food items from the 2012 growing season! In fact, I have actually run out of whole chickens!
You have NO idea how much of an improvement this is from previous years, when I was moving last year’s chickens to make room for this year’s, or when I regularly found old berries and quince paste that I fervently hoped weren’t ruined by years of freezer burn.
In the pantry, things are not quite so rosy. I still have a disturbing variety of specialty rice, pastas, and vinegars cluttering up the shelves, as well as that can of smoked tomatoes that I swore I would use up. But, the pantry is still looking better than in years past. With a cunning use of the food bank along with my Operation Use-it-Up strategies, I have been able to trim it back a bit. I have a higher percentage of regular-rotation foods in there and not quite so many boutique ingredients. Not a resounding success, but… well, baby steps, right?
This has given me enough encouragement to carry on. Hopefully, by this time next year, I really will have a tidy trim pantry and a freezer that continues to be only 3/4 full of recently-grown foods. Fingers crossed.
How about you? Were any of you inspired by Operation Use-it-Up? Did any of you change your food-use or food-storage patterns to improve the state of your freezer or pantry? Let me know how it went!