One of my favorite summertime sounds.
That “ping” means there is another jar ready to go in the pantry for winter’s store. Do you know that feeling?
It feels like good stewardship. It feels like accomplishment. And it just plain feels good!
Putting food by for the winter is probably one of my favorite pastimes. I learned so much from my mom and my Grannie and I love continuing the tradition of having fresh food preserved for my family for the cold, dark season ahead.
But there’s nothing random about my food preservation tactics. From the time I start buying seeds, I have a strategy (let’s call it 40% hope, 40% prayer, and 20% planning) to fill my larder with food that will nourish my family mind, body, and soul all winter long.
If you’re curious how to plan your garden around filling your pantry and freezer, check out this YouTube video I made with a super simple formula for garden planning with intention!
The first thing I do is I think in groups of 52 because there are 52 weeks in a year. So, for instance, I make sure I have 52 bags of frozen broccoli and 52 bags of frozen cauliflower.
So we now have veggies all planned for two nights per week. Wasn’t that easy? We also enjoy green beans so I make sure we have at least 52 pints canned – actually more because I use green beans in soups and things, too.
Potatoes grow well in Alaska so we always have lots of them for winter veggies, soups, and even an occasional winter potato salad when we are really missing summer foods.
The list goes on from there. I know we have soup at least once per week and I like to put greens in our soup so I make sure we have plenty of kale, spinach, and other greens set aside for soups and to put in eggs occasionally. (I aim for 12 bags of each type of green.)
As you can see, there is quite a bit of strategy in my meal planning which leads to my pantry planning. Then I think through what meat we have in the freezer. I know we will butcher at least 52 chickens for the freezer so we will have chicken twice a week. (We usually get 2 meals out of a single chicken plus at least a gallon of bone broth per bird.) Plus I get local beef and pork from a rancher here in our town so I keep my freezer stocked with meat from him. We barter apples and berries for Copper River Red salmon with some friends who love fishing but don’t have an orchard. Some salmon goes in the freezer, others get canned. We can both plain and smoked salmon. (Hint: Salmon chowder with smoked salmon is OUT OF THIS WORLD!)
Another thing I like to do as I’m thinking through what we need to put up is to consider what I call “fast food”. At least, it’s our version of fast food. Here’s a list of a few things I like to have on the shelf for quick meals for busy days:
- Chicken Pot Pie Filling
- Canned meat (I often put onions and bell peppers in with it – then for dinner just warm it up and put it on toast with some cheese melted on top – YUM!)
- Ham and bean soup
- Sloppy Joe Filling
- Pulled Pork
- Mississippi Pork Roast
Plus I do try to have plenty of tomatoes canned that I can whip up spaghetti, a quick soup, or macaroni and tomatoes!
May I please note: Please only use safe canning recipes – botulism is scary and it’s 100% preventable.
Because we try not to use much of anything that’s processed, we also make our own bbq sauce using our rhubarb and this year I’m learning to make mustard and mayonnaise as well.
I also learned a really great tip from a friend that I thought you might also enjoy. She makes a huge batch of lacto fermented vegetables and uses that as her family’s vegetable most evenings all winter long. We adopted her idea and I’ve found it takes about 5 gallons of ferment to feed our family of three for the year. We do often run out early but by then we have usually transitioned to fresh veggies for the season, anyway.
However, all of that planning won’t do you any good unless you’re properly prepared to actually process and store the foods you have. Make sure you have plenty of canning lids (we ONLY use Superb lids these days), freezer containers (and space in your freezer), and containers for lacto-fermenting.
And remember: when you’ve done the work and your larder and freezer are full – be sure to pour yourself a cup of tea (or bone broth, in my case) and sit back and enjoy the beauty of all that you’ve made. With God’s provision and a whole lot of hard work, you’ve stocked your home with foods that are nourishing and filling – what a gift you’ve given to your family! That is something to be immensely proud of!