How to Think Strategically About Food Preserving

tomato harvest ready for food preserving

Have you ever dug down to the bottom of your chest freezer and pulled up a bag of frozen cauliflower, chard, fill_in_the_blank from five years ago?

Oops, I guess your family doesn’t actually like eating frozen cauliflower. Yea, me neither.

We’ve all preserved foods that we never get around to using. It’s just part of the learning process. But, when you really think about it, putting away food that you never eat, and even end up throwing away, is a complete waste of time and money.

Instead of feeling guilty when you find 10 forgotten jars of pickled beets in your basement, what if you never ended up with wasted food, to begin with?

This is where thinking strategically about food preserving comes in. You need to take a close look at your eating, cooking, and grocery shopping habits before you start wielding the kitchen knife. When deciding what to put away for the winter, think first about what foods you actually eat throughout the year.

It sounds obvious, but not looking at the whole picture and acting in the moment to preserve whatever we have pouring out of our gardens leads many of us to preserve foods we never get around to using.

The following questions dig deeper into your lifestyle and help you identify which foods should be on your food preserving priority list. When answering the questions, focus on vegetables and fruits you can grow in your garden or buy at your local farmers market.

[fancy_box id=3 linked_cu=6989]Get your FREE worksheet with questions to help you set your food preserving priorities this season.[/fancy_box]

basil getting read for food preserving

The basil harvest ready to be turned into pesto for freezing.

Questions to Help You Think Strategically About Food Preserving

 

1. What fruits and vegetables do I buy from the grocery store on a weekly basis?

2. What meals and snacks are regular features of my family’s diet?

3. What foods taste noticeably better when I eat them during their local growing season?

4. Which foods provide the highest value when preserved? (What’s expensive to purchase at the store out of season)?

5. What foods will make me happy to have stored in my pantry?

 

Peppers Food Preserving

Once you answer the above questions, you’ll want to create your food preserving priority list. The vegetables and fruits that showed up in your answers above should inform your priorities.

For example, if you buy tomatoes from the grocery store most weeks, and pasta and red sauce are a regular dinnertime favorite of your kids, then tomatoes should definitely be at the top of your preserving list.

If you’re new to preserving, pick three to five priorities for the season. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by food preserving, so focusing on a few key items to start will keep you sane. You can always add more to the list next year.

garden harvest ready for food preserving

If you’re an old hand at preserving, use the questions to take a fresh look at what you put away each season. Are you eating everything you preserve? Do you end up throwing away some of the food every few years? It might be time to reassess the way you’re doing things.

In either case, the goal of food preserving is to eat through your pantry each year. Aim to consume your pantry within a year so you can start fresh when next year’s food preserving season gets underway.

That way, instead of composting that frozen cauliflower from 2014, you’ll be starting with a satisfyingly empty pantry when food preserving time comes back around again next year.

[fancy_box id=3 linked_cu=6989]Get your FREE worksheet with questions to help you set your food preserving priorities this season.[/fancy_box]

 

super_easy_tablet

Eat food from your garden all year round!

You can make every harvest last longer by learning how to quickly and easily preserve vegetables at the height of their season. And if you think canning is the only option, my book, Super Easy Food Preserving, teaches you how easy it can be to use your basement, fridge, and freezer instead. Read more about it here.

 

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More articles about easy food preserving:

How to preserve food even if you have no time

An Easy Way to Freeze Kale

Freeze Tomatoes – It’s the Easiest Way to Preserve Them

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