Thursday 31 January 2019

Eat the Stores - The Freezer Challenge - Final Day

So the Eat the Stores Challenge has lasted for the last month, during which we started off eating our way through the contents of the leftover from Christmas fresh items in the fridge, adding them to  things taken from the cupboards to make meals until I was able to give all the cupboards a really good tidy.  Once the cupboards were all nice and neat ... as shown on this post ... I decided to concentrate my efforts on the food storage that was annoying me the most and that was driving me mad in it's messiness ... the freezer.

And so the challenge within a challenge ... The Freezer Challenge was born.

The top photo shows the freezer as it looked on 4th January, the day I worked my way around the kitchen photographing all our food stores.

This photo shows it last night ...

... and this one this morning.

When I finally lost my temper with the garlic breads that kept falling out at me every time I opened the freezer door and decided to stash them with the equally tall packs of pastry in one of the door pockets ... with the curry sauces holding them upright.

Now to run through the shelves in the main body of the freezer.  The before photo each time was  taken on the 4th January and the after one was taken this morning.

Shelf One before.

Shelf One after.

Shelf Two before.

Shelf Two after.

Shelf Three before.

Shelf Three after.

Shelf Four before.

Shelf Four after.

Some quite dramatic differences in my opinion, and it does show that if you concentrate on a particular area for a Challenge you can make a huge and very satisfying difference.

The freezer drawers are still exactly the same as when I showed them here, so I won't bore you with more photos of them.

So that's it my Eat from the Stores and The Freezer Challenge over and done with and a brand new month starting tomorrow, how did January whizz by so quickly, its amazing how fast the time is going. 

 What am I doing next I can almost hear you asking ... well the first job of today is a good tidy up of what's left in the freezer, write out a shopping list and then a quick visit to the shops to give us a standby supply of bread and fresh foods.  We do need some back up supplies with all this bad weather we are having, and I have to get the car out of the drive while we have it gritted and I can actually get down the slope safely.

What I won't be doing however, is overstocking with anything as I am still in use it up and wear it out mode, so we will continue to keep our spend low and our cupboards, fridge and freezer feeding us before any dashing off on shopping expeditions just for the sake of it.

Oh, and talking of spending ... we spent just £32.18 on additional foods during January. 


Wednesday 30 January 2019

Eat the Stores - The Freezer Challenge - 9

Yesterday I left you with this photo, the latest items out of the freezer.

I had my fingers crossed that it was a Potato and Chickpea Curry, well I was nearly right it was a vegetable curry.  I must remember to label better ... but at least it wasn't dog food!!

Once they had thawed out slowly overnight I set to making pasties.

Just my usual method, nice oblong, easy to make pasties and as I didn't need all of the pastry sheet for the savoury pasties, I decided to cut off the end strip to make three little jam turnovers for a sweet treat.

This is my preferred way of crimping around the edges to try and ensure that the filling stays inside as pasties cook.  I used to get a lot of leakages before I switched to this double folding over style.

I simply brush around the edge of the filling with water and then pull over the pastry top tucking it carefully around the filling and leaving a clear edge of pastry.  Then I repeat the brushing with water on the new edge around the filling and crimp over the outer edges of the pastry.

I cut a couple of slits in each pasty and then leave them to rest, covered, in the fridge for a few hours.

After cooking for half an hour they were ready to eat.

One for tea last night with some of the boiled potatoes ...

... and one pasty and some of the potatoes left to cool before going into the fridge ready for other meals.

Then it was an action replay but in miniature, and with some jam rather than curry as the filling.

Again left to rest for an hour in the fridge.

Three very delicious little jam turnovers, which made an excellent supper.

Taken out of the freezer today ready for use tomorrow are these, and a few boxes and bags of frozen fruit.  I have a plan ... and it's made me lots of space in the freezer   :-)


Tuesday 29 January 2019

Eat the Stores - The Freezer Challenge - 8

What is it with me and 'fishless' things at the moment!!

Taken out of the freezer for last nights tea were the above things, two pork loin chops for Alan and a couple of veggie fish burgers for me ... purely to use them up as I doubt I will be replacing them.  Although they were much better tasting than the 'fishless fingers' they are not brilliant.

As well as the freezer contents going down of course other areas of food storage are getting slightly more minimal too as we eat our way around the stores and still refrain from buying to top things up.

This area of the worktop is a case in point.  This photo was taken at the start of the Challenge ...

... this one when I had the big tidy up.

And this one yesterday.

Much more calming, although the salted peanut jar will be going back when I go shopping at the end of the Challenge and buy Alan a great big bag of his favourite little nibble.  Well with the Six Nations rugby tournament coming up to a man has to have something to soak up all that beer!!

Taken out of the freezer ready for tonight's tea are these two items.

A ys roll of ready to use pastry and a tub of what I am pretty sure is homemade Chickpea and Potato Curry ... I can just feel a couple of pasties appearing as soon as they have defrosted.

To have with them I am going to use the last of the potatoes.

So ... space appearing all around at the moment, and hopefully after today's planned tidy of the kitchen shelves things will start to look even neater.


Monday 28 January 2019

Eat the Stores - The Freezer Challenge - 7

Freezer shelf number one at the start of this Challenge within a Challenge ...

... and as it looks now.

I'm itching to start tidying the shelves and to start putting like with like, for instance there are packs of meat on most of the shelves,  whereas it would make much more sense for them all to be together on one shelf, so that when Alan opens the door of the freezer he can immediately see what he's got available as the basis for his meals.  And the same for the bags of vegetables, vegan  and dessert options.

One thing I am going to do once this Challenge is over is to have an open box or basket on one of the shelves for all the bitty bits.  This will makes rummaging through the freezer much easier, if of course there's any rummaging needed.  I intend to keep a much tidier and slightly sparser filled freezer from the end of the Challenge onward. 

Taken out of the freezer last night was the last of the Quorn 'Fishless Fingers', and the last packet of these that I will be buying.  I want to move away from eating such processed things on a regular basis and move towards a simpler way of eating, as some people say 'things that my granny would recognise'.  And neither of my grannies wouldn't have had the foggiest idea what a Quorn Fishless Finger was!!


Sunday 27 January 2019

Eat the Stores - The Freezer Challenge - 6

Yesterday I spoke about how quickly the contents of the freezer were going down, but this is not always the case.  Of course some of the meals I have eaten during this freezer Challenge have not made a perceptible difference to the look of the freezer shelves at all, even if a part of them did contain something from the freezer. 

A handful of homegrown Blueberries taken from the large tub for instance, it means that the large tub is still there, just with a few less contents.  Although once any of my tubs gets over a third empty thought I do decant the contents to a smaller container or sometimes a freezer bag, as excess air near to any foodstuff  really is the enemy and is what leads to freezer burn on your foods.

To counteract my sometimes woeful and pathetic attempts at freezer emptying, Alan is manfully doing his best to free up space on the shelves.  After chomping his way through the Mandarin Orange Cheesecake all through the past week he is now defrosting the New York style one ready for weekend eating.

Oh the hardship ...  ;-)


Saturday 26 January 2019

Eat the Stores - The Freezer Challenge - 5

I'm actually really enjoying this Challenge within a Challenge.  Eating mainly from the freezer is having an immediate visual impact and I can see space appearing virtually each and every time I go in there.

Last nights tea turned out to be two of these sausage rolls for me and the lamb steaks for Alan.  His served with some mixed veg, also from the freezer and mine served with a packet of noodles, simply because I was in a noodle-y mood  :-)

I cooked all the sausage rolls as I did not want the pack to make it back into the freezer as it might once have done, but the other two rolls are in the fridge to be eaten ... one each ... along with a bowl of soup for lunch today.

There is no return for anything back into the freezer, once it's out it's out, and I think that's partly why the contents are going down so quickly.

It will be interesting to see what is left at the end of this month, which is on Thursday ... HOW did that happen!!

It's not just the freezer contents that are going down, with this not shopping and only eating what we have I am finding all sorts of things that I had forgotten about.  This very large cookie for instance that came in one of my last Vegan Kind subscription boxes ... and I'm busy munching away on it while I'm typing out this post.

My other current obsession is shrink wrapping. 

 I bought a couple of boxes of 'vacuum storage bags' from Asda the other week for all the excess bedding we have around at the moment while the static caravan is closed down out of season, and I was sick of piles of bedding everywhere in the spare bedroom, of course with the risk that Ginger might find them and make new 'beds' for himself.  So I set too and started packing them away.  There is something very satisfying about seeing the contents shrink to almost nothing as all the air is sucked out of the sealed bags.

So at the moment it seems everything is shrinking here, the contents of the freezer and cupboards, the piles of bedding in the spare room ... well perhaps not everything come to think of it ... if I continue to sit at the computer eating giant cookies I will most definitely not be shrinking.  Time to take two little pooches for a walk methinks and burn off some energy all round.


Friday 25 January 2019

Eat the Stores - The Freezer Challenge - 4

One potato

Two potato

... three potato, four.

Does anyone else remember the old school 'deciding who goes first' game ... or is it just me?

Well when I saw I had four potatoes that's exactly what came to mind.

Of course using the food out of the freezer has meant that we've also been working our way through some other non-frozen things to go with them and at the start of the week there were just four potatoes left ... now there are two!!

I keep my spuds in this old bag in the cupboard, it is dark and just about cool enough to make them last well.  The ones we have been eating were bought way back at the start of December so that's not bad going. 

Of course once the potatoes run out we will have to eat the Alphabites  :-)

In the interests of wasting nothing the peelings have been saved to use in a pot full of homemade soup.

As well as the cooking water from the boiled potatoes the other night.  I think if I add these to some of the frozen vegetables from the freezer we should get a very nice pot of soup to see us through a few lunches.

Tonight's tea has not been decided yet, I should go and have a browse through the freezer for some inspiration.


Thursday 24 January 2019

Eat the Stores - The Freezer Challenge - 3

This is the final set of 'show and tell'  photographs.  This time putting up for posterity on my blog what is hidden away in the two drawers at the bottom of the freezer, right at the start of the freezer part of my Eat the Stores Challenge.

Although it looks as though the bottom drawer is the biggest, this in fact hides some of the freezer 'workings', so it is in fact the smaller of the two drawers.

Anyway lets have a peek inside them both.

Drawer 1

It looks a mess and looks pretty full, and as Sooze (ooh ... lovely new blog from Sooze, nip over and check it out), said in yesterday's comments, freezer drawers can sometimes be difficult to open.  I'm hoping after a good clear out, otherwise known as 'eating the food I have in stock instead of just storing it' I will be able to open and close my drawers without poking things down while I slide them back in.

In the top drawer which is the larger of the two I have all this.

Drawer 2

And in the smaller bottom one ...

...there is this.

I  didn't even know I had this full pack  of individually wrapped M&S salmon fillets in here, I thought I just had the full pack in the door pocket and the odd two fillets on the shelf ... result  :-)

Taken out of the freezer for tonight's tea. 

Steak for Alan, one salmon fillet for me and one to use in another meal, perhaps fishcakes or a couple of pasties ... but whatever it turns into it will not be going back into the freezer!!


Wednesday 23 January 2019

Eating the Stores - The Freezer Challenge - 2

Shelf 1

I'm not going to list all the individual foods on the main shelves of the freezer, but hopefully on these close up shots you should be able to get a good idea of  what we have in store to use up during the next couple of weeks.

Shelf 2

This is pretty much freezer Tetris at it's messiest.

Shelf 3

The Carte D'Or ice-cream tub contains ice cubes so this will always be on this shelf which is directly above the slide out ice-cube trays.

Shelf 4

This is a good example of why things occasionally fall out when we open the door  ;-)

And this is what has been taken out of the freezer for tonight's tea.  

As we are both heading back home from different places,and have both had a cooked dinner while we were at our meetings, it will be easiest to have a simple Fish Bun for a light tea once we are back home together.  Alan can eat the cheesecake over the next three nights for his desserts or suppers.  It was supposed to be eaten at Christmas but we had more than enough of fresh cakes etc so it ended up being left in the freezer.

Thanks for all the lovely comments over the past few days, and a big HELLO to those of you who have only just found me again.