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Thread: 2012 Pantry / Freezer Challenge

  1. #1
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    2012 Pantry / Freezer Challenge

    Well, it's that time again and I didn't see the Pantry/Freezer Challenge thread, so I'm starting it.

    I've been fairly good this year, and still noticed that I have some venison sausage and venison round steaks in the freezer that someone had given me. Also would like to use up some of my spices so that I can replace them with organic or Penzey's.

    Over this past week I used up some venison summer sausage by subbing it for kielbasa in a chicken/sausage gumbo. Worked great. Also tried Italian Beef Stew (CL) using up some rather tough sirloin my DH had bought. Used the crock pot instead of the dutch oven and it turned out great. DH loved it.

    Since he travels a lot for his job, I tend to focus on soups or casseroles, so I can make ahead, and then reheat when he is home.

    I'm going to be working on special recipes to use up some of my spices, like the last of a big, big Costco container of cinnamon, a jar of pumpkin pie spice, some allspice, and a lot of dried parsley, to name a few.


    Anyone else up for the Challenge this year?

    Juli

  2. #2
    Yes!

    I need to make a list of what I want to use up and then try to pick out recipes - meant to do it today, but didn't get to it.

    However, I did get a jump start on the project by using about 1/2 of some red quinoa to make quinoa burgers last week.

    Today I used up some Rancho Gordo Vaqueros beans to make a pot of drunken beans.

    I also used up a bit of corn meal that's been in the freezer a while to make corn bread.

    I really need to be more mindful of what I purchase. I tend to go on jags where I cook certain things and then I stock up and then don't feel like cooking that anymore and the ingredients sit around. I also tend to be a bit impulsive - if it's something that is hard to find, I'll buy it even if I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with it.

    Looking forward to using up more stuff!

  3. #3
    I certainly need to do this. I think I'm going to throw some chicken, salsa, and various beans (I think I have refried and black and/or pinto) in the crockpot and serve it over brown rice with some sour cream and cheese.

    I have some frozen Copper River Salmon that can easily become dinner by just adding some seasonings and pan-cooking.

    I have various assorted fruits which I will use to make some smoothies for breakfasts.

    No idea what else is in there. I know I have some various meats and I really don't know how old they are. And a turkey that is about 3 years old. Some of it is just going to have to go in the garbage. When its all cleaned, I'll get some casseroles and soups in there.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by JuliN View Post
    Well, it's that time again and I didn't see the Pantry/Freezer Challenge thread, so I'm starting it.

    I've been fairly good this year, and still noticed that I have some venison sausage and venison round steaks in the freezer that someone had given me. Also would like to use up some of my spices so that I can replace them with organic or Penzey's.

    Over this past week I used up some venison summer sausage by subbing it for kielbasa in a chicken/sausage gumbo. Worked great. Also tried Italian Beef Stew (CL) using up some rather tough sirloin my DH had bought. Used the crock pot instead of the dutch oven and it turned out great. DH loved it.

    Since he travels a lot for his job, I tend to focus on soups or casseroles, so I can make ahead, and then reheat when he is home.

    I'm going to be working on special recipes to use up some of my spices, like the last of a big, big Costco container of cinnamon, a jar of pumpkin pie spice, some allspice, and a lot of dried parsley, to name a few.


    Anyone else up for the Challenge this year?

    Juli
    I am going to pick away at the freezer gradually but take on the mother lode in the cupboards asap. Will start from the freezer tonight with turkey in broth left from T-day and curried fruit compote from Xmas that I froze into small amounts to make my favorite chicken curry that usually is done with apples.

    Also in the freezer is leftover peas from Thanksgiving that are now overcooked. Thought I would add them to split pea/barley.lentil soup.

    Also have a casserole I froze from leftovers of cumin-scented samosas and kaddo bourani. The samosas are in phyllo triangles and I used half for a bottom crust and remainder as top.

    Have some sweet corn pudding from T-day that will make a good soup.

    Then I hit the pantry.

  5. #5
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    I am climbing on this cooking challenge wagon. A new move is planned and I want my shelves close to empty by the time it happens. I just finished my soy sauce from the last move. I have a ton of very hot giardiniera to use up. Time to get out Italian Beef recipe. Every kind of rice And beans you can imagine. I will be checking here often for ideas.

    Happy New Cooking Year!

  6. #6
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    I've got a lot of various frozen soup stocks - venison, grouse, duck, and vegetable (made from otherwise unused parts of vegetables like onion peel, leek greens, sprouting tops from root vegetables, etc.) that I often forget about. I'm planning on making soup at least once a week and actually using these.
    Anne

  7. #7
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    I'll play!

    I actually did a pantry/fridge/freezer clean out tonight. Made Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Florentine (CL 03/06) to finish off 1/2 a 32-oz container ricotta cheese (instead of cottage cheese), some mushrooms, an almost-spent bell pepper, the last of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey, and a box of whole wheat penne. Was happy to see those odds and ends used productively

    Any suggestions for the frozen carrot/pea/corn/green bean mix? My 2 year old isn't "into" veggies much anymore, so no one is willing to eat them. Aside from shepherd's pie, I'm drawing a blank.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Alleycat View Post
    Any suggestions for the frozen carrot/pea/corn/green bean mix? My 2 year old isn't "into" veggies much anymore, so no one is willing to eat them. Aside from shepherd's pie, I'm drawing a blank.
    How about this creamy veggie chowder? It's creamy, but light. You could use the bag of frozen veggies and maybe add some potatoes.

    I haven't made it in a while but I remember really liking it - I think I usually jazz it up with some red pepper flakes, etc.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Alleycat View Post
    Any suggestions for the frozen carrot/pea/corn/green bean mix? My 2 year old isn't "into" veggies much anymore, so no one is willing to eat them. Aside from shepherd's pie, I'm drawing a blank.


    Alleycat --- first time I used a quote in one of my replies, only took over three thousand posts to give it a try. How about a chicken potpie to use up the veggies.


    I'm in once again for the freezer/pantry challenge since I've participated in the CLBB challenge the last few years, and often do my own challenge throughout the year (have a rather small freezer/kitchen so not too tough).

    Tonight I needed an easy and quick dinner..... in the freezer, I had some brown rice, cooked diced chicken, and some walnut cilantro pesto (love this, a great way to use up cilantro that I would often freeze and never use, or simply toss). I stirfried some red peppers and other veggies, toasted some walnuts, added a few other things, added the chicken etc and dinner done. I was tempted for a bit to pick up something to eat, but then I thought that I could wing something and not have to spend more $$.

    I would like to use up a few odds and ends in the freezer, a few canned goods that have been languishing in the cupboard a bit long, some condiments etc, and then stock the freezer with some more quick meals, soup, chili, pasta sauce, perhaps some meatballs, some oatmeal choc chip cookies etc.

    I try to be good and think what I have in my fridge/freezer before menu planning (when I do it) and/or food shopping. Love when I just need to buy some fresh veggies, fruit, yogurt and milk for the week.
    Last edited by applecrisp; 01-03-2012 at 05:50 PM.

  10. #10
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    Thanks, lindrusso and applecrisp, for 2 great ideas. I made that soup a couple times, many years ago. I forgot about it!

    I will be happy to cook through my freezer. It's quite a chore to get anything out at this point, so I just buy new stuff to avoid having to dig around. So I'll save money AND get more organized!

  11. #11
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    I'm in for a modified/personalized version. I don't want to use up everything, but reading all your replies made me realize there are some things taking up valuable freezer and cupboard space that I'd like to use up to make room for other items. DH is really into emergency preparedness, so we are refining what we store.

    I would like to use up fruits and some bread products from the freezer, as well as some misc items. From the pantry, we have about five small cans of tomato paste coming to their expiration date fairly soon that need to be used. There are also so misc. cans that I'd like to use.

    What I really, really need is a better system for tracking what I have, what I need and what needs to be used up. I've tried several but nothing has "stuck" so far. I guess my first step is to do another fact finding mission and write down what we have where, then I'll know exactly what I want to use up first.

    Last night I used some potatoes and veg from the fridge to make potato soup. Kids complained that it needed bacon, sausage or some sort of meat. I told them I hate touching raw bacon, but that if they would dice it I would put it in next time and they agreed. Problem solved.

    Prior I had cooked some dried kidney beans. Some went into a thrown together casserole, and the rest into chili (chili also used up one of the cans of tomato paste).

  12. #12
    Good point - I don't necessarily use everything up either Dawna.

    Some things need to be used up - like the frozen, pureed butternut squash I had in there for way too long (which I used a couple of weeks ago to make Butternut Squash Ale Soup) - but other things I won't use up at one go - like the quinoa I used the other night or the polenta I used last night to make a polenta, mushroom and greens dish. I still have some left of both, but at least I used it!

    Overall I just need to be more mindful of what I buy, remember it's in there, and hopefully at least try using it before it's been in there, untouched, for 3 years!

  13. #13
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    Dawna, I'm not trying to use it all up either. But would certainly like to dig stuff out of the deep freeze, instead of just continuing to buy what I already (unknowingly) have.

    Before we got our new fridge, I had a magnetic white board that I kept on the freezer. I did an inventory of contents, and would update the board as I purchased and used things. It was really helpful with both shopping and meal planning (esp with last minute meals).

  14. #14
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    My husband commented the other day "Do you really know what is in the back of the freezer???" I think that is a sign that I need to work on this challenge as well. I did just do a thorough cleanout of my spices... found a few that expired years ago! It looks clean and fresh and is inspiring to make something!! I will have to combine my now visible spices with the freezer....
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
    Mark Twain


    http://livlifetoo.blogspot.com/ Visit Kim's food blog!

  15. #15
    I was looking for this thread ... I start out all gung ho every year and then lose my momentum.

    I don't want to clean it out as much as make sure I have more already meals in there. Right now I have chicken, beef, etc., that I buy then don't have a chance to use it so I toss it in the freezer. My spice cabinet could also use an overhaul.

    Last night I took a whole chicken, 3 pounds of chicken legs and 3 pounds of ground beef out of the freezer. I received a rotisserie for Christmas so I plan on using the whole chicken for its test run this weekend.

    I mixed up the Neely's marinade for this chicken recipe for the chicken legs but used up the rest of a jar of Penzey's BBQ of the Americas seasoning instead of their recipe.

    The ground beef will just be used for homemade sauce and meatballs, 90% of which will go back in the freezer BUT that means I'll at least have some easy to grab meals in there. I have frozen ravioli and tortellini that I need to use up as well.
    Maria

  16. #16
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    Last night we had tortellini with crumbled turkey Italian sausage and fresh tomato sauce I made over the summer (recipe from the ATK Slow Cooker Revolution book). Yay for cleaning out the freezer!

    (Of course, I bought a 5 lb package of pork chops today at Costco, because they are $3 off this month )

    My teenage stepkids are here this weekend, so I finished off the remainder of a bag of frozen mozzarella sticks tonight too. Happy to get rid of those, as they were taking up valuable space!

  17. #17
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    I had a gallon jug of apple cider explode in my chest freezer approximately 12 months ago. I basically avoid it like the plague now because I desperately don't want to clean it out. How embarrassing is that?!!

    Maybe you guys will inspire me... I know I have all sorts of beef cuts, some venison and other bits and pieces in there. Must get motivated...
    - Josie


  18. #18
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    I SO need this challenge. Last weekend I found some beef marrow bones that were (oh this is so embarrassing) over four years old. Freezer burned doesn't even begin to describe how petrified they were. And there's no reason on earth that someone needs three bags of frozen shrimp. DH and I love to roast tomatoes for sauce, so there's a shrimp with spicy tomatoes in our future. And pasta, lots and lots of shrimp and pasta... I can't even begin to imagine what else is in there.
    ~~Life is a combination of magic and pasta. ~~ Federico Fellini

  19. #19
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    We de-frosted our chest freezer earlier this week and I think I might make THAT my New Year's challenge every year! How much chicken have I bought not realizing the chicken at the bottom of the fridge? I have used up (since then) 2 packages of chicken breast, 2 packages of broccoli, one package of beef marrow soup bones and 2 packages of beef chuck (we had guests over last night and I made a HUGE vat of Chiang Mai Curried Beef and Noodle Soup). MY CURRENT CHALLENGE TO MYSELF (I TAKE IT IN INCREMENTS) IS 2 PACKAGES OF CHICKEN ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE (EASY) AND THE ORGANS FROM THE COW WE ORDERED (HARD!).

    OK I hit the caps key and I am way too tired to re type that.
    -Laura

    Muffins are for people who don't have the 'nads to order cake for breakfast.
    --Seth, "Kitchen Confidential" (the show, not the book)

    www.thespicedlife.com/

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randi R View Post
    there's no reason on earth that someone needs three bags of frozen shrimp. (
    Oh Randi, wash your mouth out with soap

    I have 4 bags in the freezer now and could use more if I had the room. I like to use the large unpeeled ones the most, but I also like to have on hand the large peeled ones for certain types of recipes. I also have on hand a bag of cooked shrimp when I get the urge for shrimp cocktail or something quick. If you need some recipes for shrimp, I'm the gal.

  21. #21
    Anyone have any ideas for using seafood stock? It is actually lobster stock. Last Spring when we ordered lobsters I used the shells, etc., to make lobster stock. And I put it in the freezer. And there it sits.

    Now I have 6 bags or so (I think they are 2 cups each) in the freezer.
    Maria

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alleycat View Post
    Before we got our new fridge, I had a magnetic white board that I kept on the freezer. I did an inventory of contents, and would update the board as I purchased and used things. It was really helpful with both shopping and meal planning (esp with last minute meals).
    I keep trying to do this, but don't have the discipline to keep it up!

    Our freezers are less than a year old, so nothing really out of date in there, but DH is hoping to get a deer this year, so I need to make room, just in case! I keep all the meat in bins, separated by type of meat, but I find that stuff gets put in between, or the bins overflow. I'm looking for a way to keep better track, because I keep rebuying veggies that I have, but don't bother to look for, in the freezer.

    I keep fruits and veggies in the kitchen refrigerator's freezer, along with spices. Meat and frozen yogurt and soup are in the big freezer, and more soup and leftover desserts are in the shop freezer, where I have to explain to DH why I'm getting them -- kind of a diet aid! I also have a bin in the big freezer of meals I've frozen to take to DD2 (and now her fiance) while she's going to school.

    I think I'm going to move the fruit to the shop freezer, along with the Vita Mix, because DH is the only one who does smoothies. That'll clear out one bin! I may see about getting taller bins for the big freezer, and taking them out to get what I want, instead of rummaging... I'm really bad for rummaging! I haven't thought through the rest, but really need to make room for the mythical deer!
    Kay
    I'm a WYSIWYG person -- no subterfuge here!

  23. #23
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    Well, negating the challenge all together -- I just bought 24 (29-oz) cans of pumpkin puree. BJ's had them on clearance, because they only stock pumpkin seasonally. 33 cents a can. I see lots of pumpkin bread and pumpkin oatmeal in my future! Any other suggestions?

  24. #24
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    My first step is to tackle the fridge/freezer this weekend and see what is actually lurking in there. Usually I do this before Christmas but that didn't work this year. The big chest freezer only gets cleaned once a year, somewhere near June,. This is after the garden vegetables and much of the hunting/fishing food is gone and before the new starts comming in.

    I need to make room in the fridge/freezer for those quarts of soup stock I will be hauling out of the chest freezer.
    Anne

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dawna View Post
    From the pantry, we have about five small cans of tomato paste coming to their expiration date fairly soon that need to be used.
    One of my favorite tricks for tomato paste is to freeze it in Tablespoon-sized blops in a freezer bag. I have a small cookie scoop that is almost exactly one tablespoon. I scoop tomato paste then blop it onto wax paper and stick it in the freezer for a few hours. Once the blops are frozen just pile them into a freezer bag. I once separated three cans into blops at one time! Works really well when you want to add only one or two tablespoons to a recipe but don't want to open a can and MUCH cheaper than the tubes!
    ~ "The right shoe can change your life...."- Cinderella ~

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bawstinn View Post
    I received a rotisserie for Christmas so I plan on using the whole chicken for its test run this weekend.
    If you are putting your new rotisserie to the test I can't think of a better recipe to christen it with than this one... I get a major case of the drools just thinking about it.

    CHILI ROASTED CHICKEN WITH ROASTED GARLIC GRAVY

    1 3-4 lb chicken, rinsed and patted dry
    3 or 4 heads of garlic

    Rub:
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons all purpose flour
    1 TBS chili powder
    1/2 tsp kosher salt
    1/4 tsp ground chipotle or cayenne
    1 tsp oregano
    1 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp cumin

    Gravy:
    2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
    1-1/4 tsp chili powder
    1/4 tsp ground chipotle or cayenne

    Preheat oven to 400*. Cut ends off garlic heads, wrap individually in foil, and roast for 45-55 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven and let cool.

    Stir Rub ingredients together in small bowl. Loosen skin from chicken breasts and legs and rub half of rub mixture under skin directly on meat. Rub the remainder of the oil/spice mixture all over chicken; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place chicken in small roasting pan or on rotisserie. (If roasting chicken in oven, decrease oven temp to 375*). Roast chicken 45-60 minutes or until juices run clear when thigh is pierced with small knife.

    Meanwhile, squeeze garlic pulp from heads and mash with fork. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat 1 minute, add 2 TBS flour, cook roux until golden. Gradually whisk in broth and wine. Add 1/2 tsp sage, roasted garlic and remaining 1-1/4 teaspoons chili powder and cayenne. Boil until reduced to 2 cup, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes. Thicken with cornstarch slurry to desired thickeness. Transfer chicken to platter. Serve chicken with gravy.
    ~ "The right shoe can change your life...."- Cinderella ~

  27. #27
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    Yesterday I saw a recipe for Baked Chili on the KAF blog. Thinking of trying it with some Venison steaks I have in the freezer I noticed that some of the reviewers said they used chicken instead of beef and it was good, so why not venison? If it turns out well, then I'll have 1 of my 2 soups ready for my "Soup & Games" night I'm hosting next Saturday. One of my big challenges is only having time to cook on weekends, so I have to plan ahead.

    I liked the posts about having "go-to" meals ready in the freezer. That was one of my unspoken thoughts when I posted the challenge. I am usually starving when I walk in the door from work.

    Also making a few loaves of cinnamon bread (have to use up the last of a very large Costco container of cinnamon) to take to the neighbors I This may take several weeks since I can only make dough for 1 loaf at a time in my breadmachine. Still, it's frugal and social at the same time.

    Juli

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Alleycat View Post
    Well, negating the challenge all together -- I just bought 24 (29-oz) cans of pumpkin puree. BJ's had them on clearance, because they only stock pumpkin seasonally. 33 cents a can. I see lots of pumpkin bread and pumpkin oatmeal in my future! Any other suggestions?
    Over the fall, I added pumpkin to both chili and a tomato-veggie sauce - they were both great! It bulked up the servings and added lots of healthy nutrients, without adding fat and calories.
    Exploring the restaurants in my backyard and cooking up a storm at MassachusEATS!
    http://massachuseats.com/

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bawstinn View Post
    Anyone have any ideas for using seafood stock?
    I use it in any form of seafood chowder. Another option would be for the broth in a seafood risotto.

    Michelle

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Bawstinn View Post
    Anyone have any ideas for using seafood stock? It is actually lobster stock. Last Spring when we ordered lobsters I used the shells, etc., to make lobster stock. And I put it in the freezer. And there it sits.

    Now I have 6 bags or so (I think they are 2 cups each) in the freezer.
    I use fish stock when making linguini with white clam sauce

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