Monday, February 20, 2006

Freezer Inventory, Soup and Baking

Due to the budgetary constraints I mentioned on an earlier post, we will be concentrating on cooking from the pantry and freezer to try to minimize our grocery bill. I thought the best place to start for this would be to make a little inventory list of what's in our freezer and perhaps a list of some of our pantry hightlights. My goal is to center our meals around these meats and seafood, with vegetarian meals to balance out the weekly menus - this should cut the grocery bills quite a bit.

From the looks of our freezer, we won't be living too badly! And now that I've taken at least a partial inventory, this seems like a good thing to do on a regular basis, budgetary constraints or no.

In our freezer we have:

2+ pounds shrimp
1.5 pounds chicken thighs
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 1-lb. pork tenderloins
1 2-lb. pork loin
48 ounces of tilapia filets
12 ounces sole filets
2 salmon filets
2 snapper filets
1 whole roaster chicken
2 Hawaiian brats (leftover from summer grilling)
andouille sausage
various cuts of deer meat (that's DH's job - I have no experience with deer meat and not much desire to fix it either)

Other things around the pantry/kitchen to keep in mind:

1 1/2 bags of fresh cranberries
4 cans of minced clams
coconut milk
large jar of capers
lots and lots of kalamata olives
whole wheat blend egg noodles
whole wheat couscous
rice - white, jasmine, sushi, wild, arborio, whole grain blend, brown
panko bread crumbs
nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts
......and the usual array of beans, stocks, and tomatoes......

Here is what I have come up with so far for this week.

* Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
* Pecan-Crusted Tilapia
* Very Creamy Vegetable Chowder
* Something for Mardi Gras - can't reveal it just yet......
* Vodka Sauce

Of course my dinner plans change constantly, but I still like to have a basic plan in place to avoid too many unnecessary trips to the store. Based on this menu, I will need very few ingredients from the store for the recipes themselves - most of what I will need is vegetables for sides.

DH took over the kitchen for breakfast and dinner today. He whipped up some pancakes and an omelet for breakfast and it was his idea to make the Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. I've pretty much dominated the cooking for many years here, and as strange (hard, even) as it is to hand over the reigns, it's certainly nice to have a break AND still have a homecooked meal put on the table. I'll definitely have to encourage DH to do this more often. It's best if I stay out of the kitchen when he cooks though, lest I try to give him too much "help".

DH took over the savory cooking for the day, but I did some sweet cooking of my own. Last night I made up a batch of Whole Wheat Oatmeal Raisin Muffins, but this time with fresh cranberries and walnuts. Very good.

Today I made a new recipe, something I've been wanting to try for a long time - granola bars. This recipe came out a bit like a bar cookie, but not as sweet. We really enjoyed them. I'm looking for healthier things to keep around the house to satisfy my sweet tooth. These are not low-fat by any means, but they are made with oil instead of butter which helps cut back on the saturated fat, and they also have whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and almonds for added nutrition.

DS#1 even got in on the baking action and whipped up some Toll House Cookie Bars for school on Friday. They have mini-economies in the classroom and occasionally they set up a market with vendors. DH always chooses to be a vendor, and this time the theme was "Lovin' from the Oven". We'll throw these in the freezer and he'll be all set!

That's it for today. It was nice to have the day off from school, but tomorrow it's back to the real world. Too bad, I'd be just as happy to stay home and cook all day...... :)

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  1. Those granola bars look mighty tasty!
    I need to do an inventory of my deep freeze and pantry. Good idea!
    BTW, I am clueless about the tags thing. can you e-mail me some instructions?
    adventuresfood AT comcast DOT net

  2. Will do, Patti. :)

  3. Anonymous9:00 PM

    I am also going through my freezer and cabinets -- it is something I don't do nearly often enough. My freezer is tiny so after a few bags of veggies, some frozen chicken cutlets, some small frozen leftovers, oh and some chocolate popsicles it is practically full. But it is great to go through the stuff. It seems that certain foods I buy all the time (how many cans of black beans, tuna, or pineapple do I really need). Your meals from going through your freezer sound great.

  4. Thanks. Although sometimes I feel restricted doing this kind of thing, it really can be a fun challenge. My overstocked item right now is pitted Kalamata olives. I stock up on these whenever we got to Trader Joe's (we don't live close to one) and somehow ALWAYS get way more than I need.

  5. I love to take inventory of my freezer :) Always come up with some great ideas when I take the time to see what I have on hand. Those granola bars look yummy!