Giving Up Stocking Up

We’ve all been there, with the possible exceptions of the super-organised and those who have only an icebox atop the fridge. You know, when you finally get round to defrosting the freezer, uncomfortably aware that it’s going to be like an archaeological dig. You’re dressed like an arctic explorer and armed for bear.

Bear was about the only thing I didn’t have in there, although the labels had fallen off quite a few things, so who knows? I always intend to eat up what’s in the freezer before buying new stuff but I’m easily seduced by a fresh, juicy butcher’s joint (don’t start) or an exotic new ingredient.

Image of freezer cotents

There’s even a hashtag for it, #givingupstockingup, so I don’t think I’m alone (please tell me this is true). My nightmare scenario is a power cut but my husband says the freezer is jammed so full it would have to be a very long one to have a significant impact.

It’s particularly shaming when so many people are struggling to feed their families. And although a good half of the freezer contents are fruit and veg we’ve grown ourselves, that’s really no excuse for letting them sit there getting frostbitten and past it. So, inspired partly by guilt and partly by food and drink writer Fiona Beckett (she has vowed to spend January eating the contents of her fridge, freezer and store cupboard) I’ve made a resolution to cook my way through it. It may take a while.

We seem to have an inordinate amount of pork but chiefly I suspect we’re going to be eating a lot of poached fruit and veggie soups. I really, really don’t need any more jam and pickles. The preserves cupboard, far from being bare, is so full the shelves are bending. Perhaps what we really need is a smaller garden. And yes, we do give a lot of produce away, Him Outdoors is just very green-fingered. I’m surprised mine aren’t black with frostbite.

Hopefully the recipes I come up with won’t be too eccentric, although the lurkers at the bottom tend to be the weird bits that need long cooking and a healthy dollop of imagination. Anyway, I’ll share anything I think is interesting. Not “um, er, that’s…interesting” (discreetly spits into napkin) but interesting-tasty, the sort of thing you’d actually inflict on friends. Watch this space.

33 thoughts on “Giving Up Stocking Up

  1. Before reading this post I was literally thinking of the amount of stuff in our freezers, so I am glad I’m not the only one with this problem. We’ve been making a valiant effort to eat things up, but I seem completely unable to cook for two rather than four. So we have lots of leftovers in the freezer for when we are too exhausted to cook. But they are piling up!

  2. Sounds good! I have an embarrassingly precise inventory of my pantry items on my computer including expiration dates, all scrupulously rotated and inventoried monthly. Although properly rotated, if anything is marked in my freezer it is by the purveyor. So, yes, that white bean soup turned out to be frosting several hours later. That is, frosting I felt like making but not for any cake I had planned. Freezers can be very dark places on a number of levels. While the pantry is emptied every November of items expiring over the coming five months and given to the landscapers at their last mowing, no so with undated, unidentified, unidentifiable items in the freezer. That is my spring cleaning, or eating.

    • While I laughed at your frosting soup, I am deeply impressed at your organisational skills, Chip. I have reinstated the hand-written freezer book, which reminds me, I forgot to cross off the prawns we’re having in tonight’s stir fry. That doesn’t bode well. πŸ˜€

  3. Feeling your pain. We too freeze a lot of garden/foraged fruit and veg and I recently unearthed 500gm of plums with a shame-inducing ‘2015’ written across the bag! So we’re now eating our way through the freezer strata – what are the chances of you coming up with a recipe that just happens to coincide with our latest discovery???

  4. I’ve just remembered the greengages I roasted and froze for a deconstructed crumble over Christmas! This episode reminds me of some of the meals my mother served in more stringent times when she stretched the budget by buying tins whose labels were missing. Those dinners could be anything from fruit cocktail and artichoke hearts to brined sausages and pineapple chunks. Looking forward to your recipes!

    • Haha, you lived in interesting times, Jan. Happily I have now listed everything that’s in there so hopefully my combinations will be a little less, er, eclectic. Fingers crossed, anyway! Lx

  5. I’m useless at freezers. Luckily ours is relatively small. But. Either my frozen dish gets defrosted the same week I froze it, or it gets left there till kingdom come, and has no label, but a fair bit of freezer burn. I am beyond help.

  6. I chuckled because I just cleaned or organized the top compartment of our fridge. Bags of fruit bought for healthy smoothies ( so I tell myself) frozen tomato sauces etc. it’s the farm bread that takes up room. But I hear you. I remember my folks having the large freezer. Back when a family purchased β€œa side of beef”. My mother-in-law’s freezer is so cram packed that I fear it will explode if I touch it. That said, it’s so cold outside right now I have more space to freeze stuff.

  7. I am impressed by the readers with books listing the contents of the freezer! And the shelves with my jars of pickles, brandied fruit and preserves are groaning as well. Theres a big gap between what my imagination thinks we are having for dinner when I am at the market, and what actually happens. Grilled cheese anyone?

  8. Yes, but what treasures you are going to discover! It’s almost exciting, wondering what will be on the dinner table when the defrosting is done.
    Probably the worst thing is to read a hint that you can just chuck lemons in the freezer which are so handy when you want fresh lemon zest………….. and you find the freezer half full of lemons because you forget you deposited some last week and the week before…….
    Wonderful things, freezers!! :))

  9. I completely understand food seduction. At least you make labels. Every time I freeze a bowl of something, I am positive I will obviously recognize what it is. Never do. And I have a really good labeler. Can’t wait to see what you make!

    • Ah, there were a fair few with no labels. I’ve been known to defrost breadcrumbs only to discover it was crumble topping. And thanks, I’m quite keen to see what I make, too. πŸ˜€

  10. Hi Linda,
    Funnily, I’ve declared next month Zero-Foodwaste February. I’m looking for ways people use their scraps, and use up what they have. Part of it for me will also be using up what I have in my freezer. It’s pretty packed at the moment, because we’ve just finished Vegaunary, so I had a lot of things to freeze or bin.

    I’ll be checking back with interest to see what you come up with as part of this month.

    I’ll also be doing a blog ropund up, so maybe you’d like to jopin me?



    • Hi Mel, and thanks. We don’t waste much in our house and anything we can’t eat goes to the hens or the compost bins. But we do have a habit, when faced with a glut, of lobbing things in the freezer when we’ve run out of energy making pickles and preserves, so there’s way too much in there. Plus there are some gnarly bits of meat. Some of the #givingupstockingup food will find its way onto Instagram but I will be sharing recipes here too, as I mentioned. Happy to collaborate on a blog round-up, maybe drop me an email via Ask Mrs Portly? Thanks, Linda

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