Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Deep Freeze Project

Back to school time was always an exciting time for me. One of my favorite things was getting new school supplies. I loved the crisp edges of the folders, the clean, empty notebooks, and the perfect shape of the unused crayons.

School brought an inevitable dilemma, though. You were forced to use the folders, notebooks, and crayons. They soon became imperfect. They soon were tattered and worn.

One work-around I had as a kid was I kept a box of crayons at home. I never used them, I just looked at them. I didn't want to use them because then the tips would get worn down and they wouldn't look as pretty. So I kept them in their box.

This mentality of not using what you have plays out in my adult life too. I have a new spin on it, though.

Each June I make strawberry jam from fresh-picked strawberries. The jam is such a treasure! I want to make sure I have enough of it for the whole year, so sometimes I hesitate to use it because I don't want to use it up. Often this results in 5 jars of jam that need to be consumed in May before the next strawberry season begins in June! I do the same thing with green beans I freeze, or sweetcorn, or rhubarb. All of the "special" things get saved because I don't want to use them up.

I tried to think of a way I could ration out my special treats so that I would be able to give myself permission to use them knowing that there was more for later on in the winter. Then it hit me - organize the deep freeze with 12 small bins, one for each month.

On the first of each month, I could bring up that month's bin from the deep freeze and put the contents in our refrigerator/freezer. Then I would know that I could have at it with all of the goodies in the upstairs freezer, and not have to save a single strawberry for the next month!

Another perk to this project is that my entire deep freeze will be cleaned out each year, because every item is spoken for. There won't be meat sitting in there for decades, or unidentifiable vegetables hanging out in the bottom. Every item will be used and enjoyed.

To start this project, I went to The Container Store and picked out 12 bins.

These particular bins are AWESOME because turned one way, they stack on top of each other; turned the other way, they nest and maximize storage space.

I laid them all out on the kitchen table and began to unload the contents of the (very full) upstairs freezer.

I had a good time deciding when to give our family some of the special things that were scarce. For example, I put in a package of frozen rhubarb in January's bin thinking that we might need a pick-me up in the winter months and a reminder of the yummy things spring will bring. I put in a pie crust in October's bin so we can make an apple pie if we end up going to an orchard. It was so much fun to think about what we will be doing in the future, and loving on my family for the months ahead.

I also wrote each month on a recipe card and threw it into the appropriate bin. I want to believe that I would have remembered which bin was which, but I think that would have only lasted a week! This way I'll know for sure.

I'm so glad I had this opportunity to create an organizational system that will hopefully benefit us for the whole year. I'm also grateful for the time to do it now, before our lives get busy with kids!

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