Thursday, June 23, 2011

To Freeze or Not to Freeze?

We're selling our deep freezer. Last year, I would not have guessed I'd be anxious to unload it. We bought it new about four years ago or so, and we usually kept it full of bread, meats, frozen vegetables and some prepared foods from shopping forays to Costco. So, what has changed for us?

First, Kelly's job change has caused us to be much more aware of our spending. Though some bulk foods at Costco are definitely a good value, we inevitably end up cancelling out most of the savings when we see other awesome stuff there. We've reduced our Costco spending by making firm lists and having Kelly shop there alone after work, rather than having the whole family go. (I really miss Costco... it's a magical, dangerous place!)

Second, we're trying to eat more sustainably, which for us means consuming much less meat and more fresh (local when possible) vegetables. Frozen vegetables were a staple for us, until I realized how quickly they start losing nutritional value in the freezer. And since I am baking our bread now, we no longer buy 20 loaves at a time for the freezer when they go on manager's special at Kroger or when we go to Costco.

In addition, I'm in the process of gradually transitioning the family into eating more of a staple foods diet, as is the historical norm around the world. Basically our goal is to eat (more) beans and other legumes and whole grains, with variety coming in through vegetables and fruits. As I read in Independence Days, purchasing meat, dairy, vegetables and fruits at a local supermarket has a much larger environmental impact than buying dried legumes and grains. Pound for pound, you're getting more nutrition and less water with dried foods. Beans are awesome. So are lentils.

The hardest part of this transition for us is eating less dairy products, because we're all kind of crazy about milk and cheese and yogurt. We're not doing anything insane like giving it up completely, just trying to decrease the amount we consume. Today I am taking a stab at making my own plain yogurt, since we go through so much of it, and it's cheaper to buy milk than yogurt at the store. I found out we have a farm about an hour from here that sells raw goat milk. Honestly, I'm not sure I'm quite there yet, but I love the idea of it.

Another factor in our decision to diss the deep freezer is that in the event of a major power outage, we lose everything in that freezer that we can't consume fairly quickly. This happened to us in an ice storm a few years ago, and it's painful! My goal with food preservation and storage is to help cushion my family in the event that we can't get food from the supermarket for a period of time, whether that's due to being stuck on this hill, widespread power outages, other natural disasters, or even [insert crazy theory here.] Food that can only be stored with electricity isn't helpful in some of those scenarios.

All of these little changes mean that our freezer is generally not full anymore. Even a full upright deep freezer is an energy hog, but it doesn't make any kind of sense to run the thing when it's almost empty. We were preparing to store our emergency water jugs in there to make it run more efficiently, when I had the eureka moment that we don't need a deep freezer. Kelly was initially surprised when I suggested it to him, but he's on board now too. We are both curious to see how much our electric bill goes down once we sell it. (Just waiting to eat through the stuff that is in there before listing it on Craigslist.)

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