Monday, November 2, 2015

4 Tips to Prepare your Kitchen for Winter

I feel the most unprepared for winter than I have in a long while.  Since we have lived in this house I have always had a garden, and I have always preserved food.  This year I did neither.

I didn’t start my seeds last winter; I thought I would buy seedlings instead.  The time to buy seedlings came and went.  I said I would pick strawberries to freeze and turn into jam, we didn’t go strawberry picking.  I said that we would definitely get tomatoes (I love my home canned tomatoes), I didn’t buy tomatoes to can this year.  I finally thought that we would go apple picking and we would at least get that done, nope, we missed that as well. 

Obviously, I didn’t put as big a priority on it this year as I have in years past.  We have had a lot going on, and like I wrote about last month in my 31 Days of Self-Care series, sometimes we need to let things go, there are seasons.

Why do I like to stock up on food in the winter?  Because we heat with oil in our home and oil is expensive.  Unfortunately there are months where we have to cut back on the grocery budget in order to buy oil.  Thankfully, oil prices are down a lot this fall, although I don’t count on this, and still want to stock up a bit so I feel a little better.

When the pantry is full, I feel better!

Because I am starting from the bottom this year, I thought it would be fun to share my top four tips for preparing for winter.

Tip 1 – Make Your Own Stock

This is actually quite easy, and can even be done in a crock pot if you are out of the house most of the day (or even overnight as my friend Lisa mentioned to me). 

If you ever roast a whole chicken or buy a pre-cooked chicken at your grocery store, cover the carcass with water the next day and make chicken stock.  Now, we will often make soup the day after having a roasted chicken, but I always have extra chicken stock.  Put it in a Ziploc bag and freeze it. 

You can also make veggie stock, either with fresh vegetables that you can then blend into the stock, or with vegetable scraps that you keep in the freezer in a gallon Ziploc bag, that when full you put on the stove with water, some herbs and peppercorns and let it simmer away.

Tip 2 – Buy Rice in Bulk

I am not a huge rice person, I never really ate rice growing up, but rice has become a staple in our home.  Rice is also very inexpensive – especially when you buy it in bulk.  Currently it is around $9 for 25 pounds of white rice at SAMS Club.

Now, we all know that brown rice is healthier than white rice however I think that having white rice in the house is not a bad thing.  It is always good in my mind to have a shelf stable carbohydrate that is low in allergens available.  If you pair the rice with frozen veggies and scrambled eggs, it is a great meal that my kids love, and is quite filling.

Tip 3 – Buy frozen vegetables

I love fresh vegetables, I love salad, I love summer when I can go to the farmers’ market and get those fresh picked veggie, but winter is probably the worst time to buy fresh vegetables, unless you live in a climate that is currently growing them – and that is certainly not Maine.

Because of this, we turn to frozen vegetables in the winter.  Frozen vegetables are picked when they are ripe, and frozen immediately, so they are most likely the most nutrient dense vegetables in the grocery store.

I love to stock my freezer with broccoli florets, baby sweet peas, green beans, brussels sprouts, and corn.  I can make soups and stir fries easily with the frozen vegetables and also using the above mentioned stock and rice.

Tip 4 – Eat more storage vegetables

We have come a long way from when everyone had their own garden and had to preserve the food that they were going to eat throughout the winter and early spring, unfortunately and fortunately in my opinion.  People have forgotten which vegetables would typically be available to them, but there obviously is much more choice.  While I like to have frozen summer veggies on hand, I also love to have all the fall and winter storage crops.

Things like carrots, onions, potatoes, parsnips, winter squash and pumpkin are amazing vegetables to have on hand in the winter.  We love to roast these vegetables.  I will make soups.  They are inexpensive and they last a long time.

I love winter squash and pumpkin and you can get so much out of them!  Roast up a winter squash and use the flesh for a squash soup, roast the seeds and top the soup with the seeds or eat them for a snack.  Make a stuffing and put it in acorn squash and cook in the oven.  My pie pumpkins do double duty, I will typically roast it and make a bread or pie out of one half and the other half goes into soup.  Delicious vegetables that provide a lot of vitamins we need in the winter.

Do you stock up on food when it gets closer to the winter season?  How do you make your grocery budget stretch in lean times?


  1. What a great post! Very helpful ideas! I do stock up on frozen veggies and berries from the previous picking season! I made stock last year so I guess I better get on that, seeing as soups and stews are a staple through those Winter months!

    1. I like the way you have things organized in the freezer. Another consideration for the white rice is it actually has a much longer storage life than the brown rice, so that makes it a better choice if you're buying in bulk and not planning to use it right away.
      I have always kept a full pantry, but have focused on extending the amount of food we have stored for the past year or so. It's amazing how much food a family of 5 eats in just 3 months!


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