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Emptying the Freezer

A major goal of mine for this month is to make as much room as possible in our freezers for turkeys and hams in November and December.

The trouble is, they are all full right now. (What a blessing!)

While I don’t intend to completely empty them, I do want to make plenty of room for at least 12 turkeys (we cook one a month throughout the year)  and 6-8 hams. I also want to use up anything that’s been in there for too long.

We’re eating turkey this week, and I pulled a ham from the freezer today to defrost. I actually ended up with 15 turkeys last year, so I have a bit of extra meat. I’ll cook some and freeze the meat to use in meals for a quick dish. I’ll be cooking another turkey this month as well.

I’m going through them to use up what needs to be used. Here’s what I’m making to be certain I don’t waste food. Even food that is a little freezer burnt can be eaten this way.

Alphabet Soup: You can get creative with the vegetables on this one. Today’s soup had tomatoes, bell peppers, great northern beans, corn, green beans, broccoli, celery, onions, carrots, a little spaghetti sauce, spinach, and zucchini. I didn’t have any beef base so I just left it out. Almost everyone had thirds.

Smoothies: I’m planning smoothies with lots of frozen fruit as well as canned fruit.

Popsicles: Make smoothies (single fruit or a blend) and freeze in popsicle molds. It’s still hot enough to run the a/c here (I tried turning it off during the day but it was 83º in the house when I did that) so they can eat their popsicles outside.

Fruit Crumble: A great way to use up any fruit (either a single fruit or a blend of fruits). I won’t use all of the fruit, as part of my reason for freezing it when it was ripe was so that I could make fruit crumble and smoothies at other times. Still, there’s a lot of fruit there! I know we’ll be enjoying some.

Stir Fry: Any and all vegetables are fair game here! It’s also a great way for me to use some turkey.

Soups: I plan on using all of the broth in the freezer. Turkey will be great in several soups. All of the beans will get used, too, including in soups (including minestrone and rosemary white bean soup). I can always cook large batches of beans again later to fit in around the turkeys.

Are you eating down your pantry and freezer this month in preparation for the great November and December sales?

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25 Comments

  1. We always bottle some turkey around Thanksgiving. It is so handy to have, like making your own convenience food. -Marivene

  2. I know what you mean. It sounds like yours is bigger than the tiny one I had; I had room for 1 little container of ice cream was all, and then I had to adjust the ONE thermostat to either have frozen fresh food or soft ice cream.I hope you can replace your freezer. I do wonder how much you can keep outside there in the winter. I know someone who could keep quite a lot outside in Alaska. You are so far north; I wonder if you could do the same thing.

  3. As long as there’s no frost, I let the root vegetables stay in the ground. I try to get the leeks, celeries and fennels eaten. I know there are solutions for ‘storages’ underground, like a hole in the ground covered by certain way… but I don’t know, we live in a city and we have a mouse problem… (He did eat most of our potatoes, and he made a root cellar for himself – my husband found ~3-4 pounds of fine potatoes in a dirt pile near our house!)Indeed, a good old-fashioned root cellar would be ideal, if this place were ours.It depends on the weather how much can be kept outside. Winters vary from mild and rainy to desperately cold. Last winter the first snow came in January. It’s kind of depressing – you are getting mentally ready for spring and you realize you haven’t had winter yet… 😀

  4. I am trying to use up some of the things in our freezer- such as 2 ham bones from this past year, and some smoked sausage I found marked down a couple months ago and stuck in there, as well as some frozen veggies. I am trying to make room in case my husband has luck shooting a deer this season, but the new baby is due right after hunting season opens,so he may not have as many chances to go. I am also wondering if turkeys and hams will go down in price as much as years past. Brandy- how do you get around the strict limits some of the grocery stores place on turkeys? In our area, most of the stores limit turkey purchases to 2 per customer. Just wondering, I have never been able to stock up like you can because of that.

  5. Same here! I’ve got 40 pounds coming too and cleaned/straightened the freezer yesterday. I missed out on the ground beef sale as my pickup would have been Labor Day. I will probably buy one extra turkey to cook for canning. When hams go on sale, I buy two or three depending on the size and can them up as well. Our holiday dinners are only four people so if I can stuff up I get to take advantage of the sales.I’m going today or tomorrow to a local store that has good meat sales, getting chuck roast and a pork loin that I will slice into chops. In a month of so I’ll head out to get a load of ground beef.And I have made a bit of space on the shelf for some venison, hopefully I’m lucky this year!!

  6. Now I realized you probably meant storing meat etc outside? This is not a realistic (or healthy) option in long-term. The winters are that cold only for short period at a time, so meat etc would be freezing and thawing, freezing and thawing.But in short-term, and for example for crushed lingonberries in their own juice (very sour) without sugar, yes, I have stored food outside.

  7. We bought a generator when the power went out in July. For some reason in the past 4 years our power goes out more frequently and stays out longer. I run two refrigerators and two large chest freezers so I have a lot invested in food.I think I have 3 hams left and ham bones. Plus 2 turkeys. Not sure what I will buy this year. I guess it depends on prices. I need ground beef for my freezer too and not sure if I will buy a case now or wait.

  8. We are cooking our turkey next week. My freezer is very full from summer veggies, the beef we purchased and other odds and ends. I might take everything out this weekend just to get an inventory. I purchased a fridge for our garage also, and it’s been a great place to hold over veggies that I couldn’t get to right away. We usually end up with a free ham, a free turkey and a couple of purchased turkeys. I think turkeys will cost a little more than last year. I ordered our thanksgiving turkey from a friend who is raising and selling 50 of them.We are down to a family of 4 in my house, 3 of the kids are grown and moved out. I’m trying to just stick to our one freezer and extra fridge.

  9. We live where we can get hurricanes/tropical storms, ice storms and snow. Dealing with frozen food in the winter is usually easier than the summer storms!Unfortunately, we don’t have $500-$800 (or more) to invest in a generator. Around here, they are commonly stolen items, so we don’t want that temptation in our home, either.

  10. Seems I am always trying to eat out the freezer because my brain still does not understand how little food we need and I am so easily drawn in by a great deal. I won’t buy any extra turkey this year. Now that our kids are grown food lasts forever around here so I would just rather buy what we want to eat as we need it now. I still have a turkey breast in the freezer from last year that should be cooked but it is way too big for us and we are not crazy about turkey from the freezer and I don’t own a pressure canner. Funny how that turkey breast would have been mostly devoured in one Sunday dinner when the kids were home and now it would last us for 2 weeks or more.

  11. Marivene,How do you bottle some turkey? I would love to do that with turkey and deer if I could! We have a milk cow, rabbits, 2 feed calves, and lots of barn chores, plus house work and home school so I am ALWAYS needing and looking for good home canned convienience food and quick meals. Could you please share? You have my email address if you want to email ;0) Joy

  12. I have always interpreted the “2 per customer” as “2 per trip”. If it is a good enough sale, my husband is also a customer. One of the blessings of using cash to pay for groceries is that in large measure, it circumvents the electronic methods a grocery store could normally use to track purchases. Just a thought. – Marivene

  13. I am trying to use what we have in our freezer too. My goal is to do very little grocery shopping until thanksgiving. I made chicken pot pie the other night to use some mixed veggies up. Next I think I am going to use some blueberries to make some muffins for breakfast.

  14. Joy, there are directions for canning most meats in the Ball Blue book & online. Basically, they tell you to cook the turkey until partially done, then cut into pieces, cover with broth & pressure can for the required amount of time for your elevation. At my elevation, between 4000 & 5000 ft, pints take an hour & fifteen minutes to process in the pressure canner, plus warm up, vent & cool down time. The way I do it, and have for years, is to first bake the turkey. We have a meal from the turkey, & I chill the leftover meat in the fridge, then cube the cooked meat. I chill the broth to remove the fat cake that floats to the top. As soon as the broth is ready, we start canning, so the leftover broth goes into the fridge even before we sit down to eat. I pack some jars with white meat & some with dark, & some mixed. I simmer the carcass for more broth, because I need enough broth to cover all the meat in the jars. Bake another turkey & repeat. – Marivene

  15. I’ve been emptying my freezer in lieu of hunting season (just after Thanksgiving here). My husband has tags for up to three deer. Lord willing we will have at least one. Once we have that, we’ll see how much room there is for a run to the [semi]local farm where we pick up our whole free range chickens. Thanks for the recipe ideas!

  16. Joy–cubed venison and elk (and moose) can be canned raw. You do not need to add broth, because it creates its own while it cooks. Add salt and a garlic clove if desired. It’s great for stew!

  17. Hi!I can hardly wait for the sales on turkeys and other meats in this area.I heard that due to the drought in some parts of the country turkeys may be much higher than last year.I am waiting to see.I live in the PA.Pat

  18. I have a question. What is considered a good price for turkey breast? I bought one today on sale for 1.99/lb. It is frozen. I bought it because I thought I could cook it, then slice it thin for sanwiches, better than 8.99/lb. for deli sliced. Will that work? None of us like dark meat, so I always buy just the breast.

  19. I need to clean my freezers out, they’ve kind of become a mess and it’s hard to know for sure what is in them. I’ve just been putting it off because it’s not a fun job.

  20. My freezer needs to be defrosted and cleaned this month, so that I can restock it and make room for Christmas foods. I’ve been working my way through the contents, and now I’m down to the last few random items. I wonder what I can make from a package of short crust pastry, a bag of cooked green lentils, a tub of chicken stock and four bread rolls?!?

  21. We can alot of our meat. When we kill a pig which is usually this time of year we can sausage and hams. For poultry we either can just the meat or cook up soups and stews to can. Pressure cooker is an awesome investment into self suffeciency(sp?) Living in michigan as I do we can’t trust our electric to be dependable so canning as much as you can fit on your shelves is definatly a plus. Also when we kill a cow or chickens we even cook up useless bones and can an awesome stock. Canned meat sure does make dinners quick if your running short on time, no thawing and the cooking step is already done!

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