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
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
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
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
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
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?

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  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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