Sunday, October 9, 2011

{31 Days} Stocking your Fridge & Freezer

Just like filling your pantry with essentials for cooking from scratch, it’s helpful to have a few basics in your fridge and freezer. 

Fridge Essentials

In our fridge, you’ll find: milk, half & half, whipping cream, cream cheese & buttermilk.  With these simple dairy staples you’ll have what you need to cook from scratch.  Half & half along with whipping cream keep really well in the fridge, so we tend to buy bigger quantities since the price per oz is cheaper.  We do the same thing with buttermilk – especially because you can freeze buttermilk! 

If you don’t want to buy buttermilk, you can use your white vinegar + milk to make your own.  We do this from time to time (in things like cake recipes, etc.), but once we started buying buttermilk to make things like pancakes, we have found the substitute just isn’t the same. 

We also keep lemon juice, soy sauce (reduced sodium), yeast (we buy this in bulk from Costco – so cheap!), and vital wheat gluten. 

We also have white & yellow cheeses on hand at all times.  For white cheeses, our staples include Parmesan, Mozzarella, and Monterrey Jack.  Occasionally, we’ll splurge on something like White Cheddar. For our yellow cheeses, we have Extra Sharp Cheddar & Colby Jack. 

We’ve found that by having extra sharp cheddar cheese in our kitchen we have no need to buy the less flavorful “low fat” cheeses.  The extra sharp cheddar cheese adds amazing flavor and depth to our foods and we can cut down on the amount of cheese substantially when we use it in place of cheddar cheese. 

Freezer Essentials

We LOVE our freezer.  However, you don’t need to have a chest freezer to stock it well!  For the first 4 years of our marriage, we had a small, over the fridge freezer, which we made work.  You can too! 

In our freezer, you’ll find a large stock of fruits & veggies.  Flash freezing fresh, seasonal produce during the summer leaves us with an excellent stock for the winter.  For fruits, we stock:

  • Cherries (sweet & tart)
  • Berries (Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries)
  • Apples
  • Pineapple
  • Bananas

For veggies, we freeze our favorites – like bell peppers. 

You’ll also find, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, carrots, shredded zucchini, green beans & peas.  We buy spinach in bulk & freeze it {here’s guest post over at Eat at Home that shows how to do this}, and we also freeze our garden’s bounty of zucchini.

For the other veggies, we buy frozen from the grocery store.  Our “go-to price” is $1.00/package.  So, when they go on sale, we fill up our freezer. 

Finally, we do have lean meat in our freezer. 

I will say up front, that we are in the process of finding a local source for our meats.  Presently, we have chosen a few local brands that we feel have fairly good practices – and supplement with farmer’s market purchases.  When we lived in Michigan, we had a farmer that we bought our poultry & eggs from, but since moving we haven’t made that connection just yet.

So, peeking in our freezer you’ll find ground turkey, ground beef, pork loin, chicken breasts, and whole organic chickens. 

We also keep our corn meal, yeast, and sweet potato puree in our freezer as well, since we buy yeast and sweet potatoes in bulk we freeze the yeast and cook/puree the sweet potatoes to freeze too. 

What’s Next in the Series?

This wraps up our preparing the pantry part of our 31 day series!  I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to get into the kitchen! 

Thanks to feedback from all of you over on Facebook, we’ll divide the next three weeks into Cooking from Scratch – Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners, Desserts & Snacks! 

In each of these categories, we’ll start out simple & easy and progress in difficulty. 

For example, this week in breakfasts, we’ll start out with easy recipes for your own pancakes & muffins.  We’ll end the week with something more challenging – like bagels, perhaps. 

I hope you are excited!! 


  1. Hello! Love reading your 31 day series...very interesting! In this post you mentioned that you freeze zucchini from your garden. Do you just wash and cut into large dices before freezing? Do you mainly use this in breads, pancakes, etc. where you bake the zucchini into the food or does frozen zucchini cook well into dishes like pasta where you leave the zucchini in bite size pieces? I wondered if it would become to mushy in a dish like this...
    Thanks again for your info!

  2. Hi Stacy --

    I'm going to do a post on freezing zucchini, but I handle it two ways:

    (1) I shred it and freeze it for breads, etc.

    (2) I blanch it by placing slices into boiling water for 3 minutes, dumping them into cold water for 1 minute and then flash freezing the slices.

    This is my first time trying the blanching method for preserving bigger slices of zucchini to use in casseroles, etc.... so I'll let you know how it goes after we try some!


  3. Thanks for the post! It is definitely on my "to do" list for next summer to get fresh fruit/veggies and freeze it for winter. I am assuming it is much more economical PLUS you know where it came from and what you put in it. And once I get my own place I would LOVE to have a garden to grow my own produce!

    For the meat...what do you look for in quality meat? I just get my meat at the grocery store...


Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you; especially how you're finding JOY in your kitchen.

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