Saturday, October 4, 2014

Chopping, Blanching, and Freezing, Oh My!

Out of all the things I enjoy about being a housewife, my top two favorite things are budgeting and everything food related. The two kind of go hand in hand - to stay within our grocery budget, I like to find all sorts of new ways to be resourceful and still have healthy, delicious meals. This year, we discovered Bountiful Baskets, and it's proven to be a great way for us to eat a wide variety of fresh produce for a great price. For just $15, we get a laundry basket full of random fruits & veggies that we use over the next 2 weeks.

This week, I decided to be more intentional about the way I use all the produce we get. Sometimes, there just aren't enough ways for us to eat all that we get while it's still good. Even if we don't like something we get, I really hate to see it go to waste. Over the next couple weeks, I want to share the different ways I preserved and prepared the produce that we got today. This should serve to help me stay accountable with using all of this, and hopefully be useful to anyone who's interested in trying similar things. Here we go!

This week's regular basket - it includes a pineapple, tomatoes, bananas, lemons, apples, cantaloupe, strawberries, cucumbers, peppers, spinach, broccoli, and lettuce. (All for just $15! We do not choose what we get, the co-op takes the pool of money from contributors and buys as much fresh produce as they can with the combined money.)

This week, I also decided to get an add-on in addition to the regular basket, all in the interest of eating more veggies! This is the "Stew Add-On Pack," and it included onions, green beans, garlic, potatoes, carrots, kale, celery, parsley, and dill.

This is after putting away the produce for the first time - it's like a garden in my fridge! 

After a quick visit to the vet first thing this morning, we got to work with today's project: freezing anything that can be frozen! Charlie had just gotten shots, so she was a bit lethargic. She found herself a nice space to nap while we worked.

Come on, seriously... how cute is this?!

The rest of the morning consisted of chopping, peeling, blanching, bagging, and freezing! I don't have many pictures of the process, but I'll tell you what we did:

-Diced onions, cried like a baby, stuck in freezer
-sliced peppers into long strips, bagged, froze. (I've also diced them and froze them before, that works out really well!)
-We chopped and blanched the carrots, celery, broccoli, and kale - 2-3 minutes in a pot of boiling water, immediately followed by the same amount of time in ice water, dried, then either bagged or put into small tupperware. 
-Chopped up bananas, pineapple, and strawberries, bagged, and froze.

We also happened to have grapes left over from last week, so we washed and blanched them, then put them in our handy dandy food dehydrator to make raisins! (We left them in for about 8 hours, next time we might try for less.)

Finished project: The inside of my freezer! L to R top shelf: Strawberries, pineapple, bananas, strawberries, blueberries
Bottom shelf: Homemade cream of chicken, onions, peppers, onions, green beans.

The rest of my freezer: frozen carrots, broccoli, celery, potatoes (done a few months ago, not sure I'd recommend that!) onions, peppers, and kale. Then meat and ice cream, of course! ;)

We had a wedding this afternoon that we were helping with, so we weren't able to have a "weekend adventure," but we both agreed that this project left us feeling resourceful and satisfied. I'm excited to see how all this works out, and even more - what foods I end up making! Curtis has requested lots of stir fry, something I really enjoy making and is always a fun way to mix a bunch of veggies, meat, and spices together. Check in later for pictures of healthy meals! :) (Oh, and pictures from our afternoon, including the Star Wars wedding reception... you don't want to miss that!)

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