What’s in My Freezers?

What's in My Freezers?

Yesterday, I spent some time moving stuff into the upright freezer that we bought at an estate sale last weekend. We’ve had a chest freezer for a while, but we really needed a second freezer to keep up with all of the stuff that I pick, make or buy on the cheap. It’s a big part of how I keep our grocery bill down.

Now, that all of the rearranging is done, I thought I’d give you a peek at what I keep in my freezers. [Read more...]

My Stockpile

Stockpiling groceries is a big part of how I keep my family’s grocery bill under control. When products that we use go on sale, I try to buy enough to get us to the next sale. If I come across a really good deal – i.e. a clearance, closeout or something that’s free or close-to-free after coupon – I’ll buy more. I have a price that I’m willing to pay for everything that we buy, and I aim to never go over that price. By staying ahead of our needs, I rarely have to.

So how big is my stockpile, and where do I keep it?

I keep just the things that we’re currently using in the pantry:

My Stockpile

My stockpile of groceries, cleaners and paper products occupies three shelving units and a chest freezer in the basement:

Grocery Stockpile

Stockpile Picture

Chest Freezer

And toiletries, like toothpaste, soap and razors fill a rack on the inside of the linen closet door:

Health and Beauty Stockpile

Between these three spots, it’s like having a convenience store in our home that stocks just the stuff that we use, and only at our prices. I love knowing that our basic needs are covered, and that I don’t have to run to the store every time we finish something off.

Staying Organized and Avoiding Waste

I try to keep my stockpile neat and to visit it often, so I stay on top of what I have, what I need to buy, and – just as important – what I don’t need to buy. Everything is arranged by date, with the stuff that needs to be used first towards the front of the shelves.

For products like toothpaste, where the date can be difficult to read, I write them on the box with a permanent marker.

To avoid problems with pantry moths, all grains go in the freezer for 24 hours before being stored on shelves. This kills any larvae that may be present (gross, but a reality of our food system). When I have the space, I just leave my flour in the freezer. It helps to maintain the nutritional value, and greatly extends the life of whole grains.

Because dried beans are another food item that can develop bug infestations, I store my beans in sealed glass containers. This ensures that if I do have a problem, it won’t spread to other areas of my stockpile.

I’ve never had any kind of infestation in my pantry or stockpile, and I think it’s because I store things properly, and because I avoid buying more than we can use in a reasonable amount of time.

Are you a stockpiler? I’d love to hear how you organize your stockpile.

How to Organize a Chest Freezer

If you own a chest freezer, I’m betting the inside of yours looks something like this:

How to Organize a Chest Freezer

Yep, mine did too, until yesterday.

I’m telling you, chest freezers may hold a lot of food, but they are beyond difficult to organize. Freezer baskets help some, but they don’t do anything to organize the tall stacks of food that lurk beneath them. And going in for something at the bottom of the freezer? Well, that’s just an avalanche waiting to happen.

Determined to finally find a solution to the problem, my husband and I spent some time brainstorming different solutions, and I’m happy to report that we found one that works. Take a look:

Chest Freezer -Organized

Big improvement, right? Those red crates that you see in my freezer are Sterilite Locker Crates, and we found them on clearance at Walmart for $3 each. As the name suggests, they’re designed to fit inside of a locker, but they happen to fit the dimensions of a chest freezer perfectly, too.

Sterilite Locker Crates

Locker Crate

We were able to fit five crates in our freezer – that gave us one for meat, one for fruit, one for veggies, one for nuts and one for jars, with a bit of space left over for stacking flour and additional jars of homemade goodness.

I love that everything is grouped by what it is, and that getting to something at the bottom of the freezer is now as simple as lifting out a few crates.

Want to see if your Walmart carries these? Just go here, and click on “find in store.” Both Walmart locations in my town had them available in a variety of colors. I’d recommend checking the clearance aisle because that’s where we found ours.

My Shoe Stockpile

My Shoe Stockpile

Something most people don’t know about me? I have a shoe store in my basement. Okay, so it’s not exactly a shoe store, but that is what my kids call my shoe stockpile. You see, I really hate to pay retail, so I keep an eye out for good deals on kids’ shoes when I’m at thrift stores and yard sales, and buy ahead when I can.

Now, I know that probably sounds like I buy my kids a bunch of used shoes, but that’s not the case at all. I have found that by shopping a couple sizes ahead, I have plenty of time to find brand new shoes on the second-hand market.

And it only takes a couple of shoe racks tucked away in my basement to keep everything organized and neatly arranged by size.

My goal is to have a full range of shoes in each size before my kids need them – sneakers, black dress shoes, brown dress shoes, everyday sandals, dressier sandals and boots; and my stockpile hasn’t let me down yet.

So what do my kids think of my shoe store? They love it, and are always excited when a new school year or a growth spurt prompts me to open my “store”. I mean wouldn’t you be happy if someone presented you with a new collection of Keen, Timberland, Merrell and Born shoes whenever you needed them? It’s tough being the kids of a stockpiler, I tell ya.