Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Food Wars

WARNING: There are no pictures in this post to protect the innocent…and the guilty…well, to protect me.  It’s mostly to protect me…


When I woke this morning, I was feeling good: Fall is on its way, it was looking like we’d be having some beautiful weather and I was feeling all nest-y (what?!  Is too a word).  I got up and decided I was going to GET STUFF DONE today!  As my youngest was making her lunch for school, I decided today was a day for making applesauce!  Sure, I’d never done it before, but there just so happened to be a ton of apples sitting on our counter and the crock pot was singing to me from the pantry.  Clearly, today is Applesauce Day.(I’m going to contact Congress later about making that official.)

We pulled out our handy-dandy apple-corer-peeler-thingy given to us by a friend and went to work.  Threw the apples in the crockpot with some water and cinnamon, et voila!: yummy apple sauce to be ready right around the time the girls come home from school.

I must say, I was quite proud of myself and feeling that my nesting was off to a good start.  I decided I was going to clean out the closets and drawers and get this household all organized and ready for anything.  But first! I must do the meal planning and grocery shopping.  I’ve really been fairly haphazard about the whole meal-planning-feeding-my-family thing this summer and it is really starting to get old, so I decided today’s the day I turn this around!  (There’s that nest-y thing again – and no, before you ask, I’m not pregnant!).

I sat down at my computer, took way too long searching for meals to have this week, found them and filled out my grocery list.  The next step is always checking to see what we already have and don’t need to buy.  And that’s where everything fell apart…

***dun dun DUN!***

I opened our refrigerator to see if we had any sour cream and was faced with piles and piles of Tupperware containers.  Every shelf was filled to the brim with them.  After a minute of trying to move them around and see around them, I just decided it was high time to clean out the fridge.

Hole-y Cow!  I don’t think I’ve ever thrown away so much food: old leftovers that I don’t even remember cooking, produce that was used once and forgotten, cheese that was clearly past its prime.  I pulled everything out of the fridge and threw a good bit of it right down the garbage disposal.  I absolutely hate throwing away food (though I’ve gotten way too good at it) and this time the volume of wasted food was absolutely ridiculous and truly embarrassing.

“This has GOT to stop!”, I thought.  We can’t keep putting food in the fridge just to keep it cold until we’re ready to throw it away!  We definitely need to figure out how to manage our food.  I hate the waste: both the edible and spendable kind.  I figured I’d heat up my lunch (which happened to be the one and only remaining left-over that was even potentially edible) and browse Pinterest to find ideas for better food organization.

But wait!  I need to get something out of the freezer!  But wait!  Why is this bag of frozen corn not frozen anymore?  Or this bag of strawberries? Or these rolls?  WTH?!  The freaking freezer was almost fully thawed! 


This now marks the THIRD time this summer we have had freezer issues.  The first time was the morning we were leaving for a week long vacation when our outdoor freezer that houses our quarter cow and all the chicken I buy in bulk was thawing.  (Apparently I had blown the fuse a few days before while using my chop saw and hadn’t noticed.)  Thankfully, most of the meat was on the bottom two shelves and was still frozen solid.  There was a roast on the top shelf that was now thawed, so we changed our meal plans for our vacation and took that with us to have the next night.  We did end up throwing away some chicken broth and such, but all in all, we felt lucky.

The next time was a few weeks later when someone accidentally left the outside freezer door not quite closed.  Luckily again, the meat on the bottom two shelves was still frozen and we had already thrown away anything from the shelves above that would’ve been a problem.  I don’t think we lost anything that time, but the raspberries I had been flash freezing did drop their juice all down the freezer, which is now sitting in a nice little, frozen puddle at the bottom of the freezer.  *sigh*

So, today, when I found our inside freezer was practically completely thawed, I wasn’t sure whether to sit down in the middle of the puddle of water on the floor and cry or to run around the house laughing hysterically about our clear inability to be adults and manage a household.  (I actually ended up doing neither and just texted something about the situation to my husband that probably involved some profanity and started cleaning out the freezer.  See? I can be an adult when the need arises!)

So now, after an hour and a half delay, the fridge is cleaned out, I’ve rearranged the meal plan that I took way too long to make in the first place to accommodate the now thawed meat I found in the freezer, which is mostly empty. I’m waiting to see if it will cool back down again or if there’s actually something wrong with it (please no, please no, please no) and I am finally sitting at my desk, eating my leftover lunch and getting ready to let Pinterest save the day. (It’s amazing like that.)

I know things have to change and here’s my plan so far:

  • The fridge needs to be reviewed EVERY day.  Are there leftovers that are no longer good?  Are there leftovers that are almost bad and should be taken for lunch tomorrow?  Are the kids eating the fruits and vegetables I so lovingly cut up for them at the beginning of the week or are they rotting at the bottom of the crisper?  You know, that kind of thing.
  • From now on, absolutely NO leftover containers can go into the fridge without first being labeled with the date (and the contents if it might not be obvious).
  • We’re going to start planning (if not making) the girls lunches at night so that we can make sure they are using those previously mentioned fruits and veggies, that the macaroni and cheese I made for lunches is getting used, and that the lunch meat I bought is not getting soggy in the back of the drawer!

That last one may be the hardest.  We all have an illogical aversion to making lunches.  It must be genetic.  Hopefully Pinterest and the Internet will have more fun ideas for how we can keep the beast tamed.

What about you?  Any tried-and-true food organization tips?  Any refrigerator nightmares?

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