Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Food Storage, the next step up, the freezer

     Now that you have reviewed your weekly grocery purchases and added zippered bags to your shopping list, it is time to take the next step up.

     It is difficult to resist buying bulk meats.  I shop the Gordon Food Supply store.  It is known as GFS.  They have great buys and a lot of their motto is true.  “Big box store prices without the membership fee.”  They offer the rice, beans and grains in bulk and no one asks why I am buying so much.  People shop there for restaurants, family reunions and family monthly groceries. 

     The temptation is to get into the habit of purchasing large lots of 20 lb. rolls of hamburger and whole roasts and hams.  The reasoning is the world won’t come to an end this month and the savings will allow you to purchase more and if the power goes out we can have a barbecue!  I get it.  Been there!  And I have done that!  

     It’s true, the world may not change this month and you will save money as long as you aren't wasting any of your purchase.  Never buy the quantity meats frozen unless you have access to a good bone saw.  Buy fresh, have it cut into meal size portions and store it well.

     Freezer bags of the zipper kind are good enough for meats that are only going to stay in the freezer a few weeks or months.  Buy a good permanent ink marker and mark what cut, what animal, what day you bought it and what day it needs to be consumed by.  Let the ink dry before placing into the freezer.  I hate thawing out a piece of what I thought was beef and it was the venison.  It happens to everyone.  Mark the package. 

     I know we have all seen the generations of aluminum foil commercials teaching us through repetition that foil is best in the freezer.  Nope.  Foil is good enough in the kitchen freezer for a few weeks.  In a deep freezer, foil can be broken into easily if you are rooting through looking for a favorite ice cream.  So, sort your freezer priorities.  Keep the meats together and rotate by date.  Please refer to www.http://nchfp.uga.edu, the national center for food preservation, for more information.

     At this point, you may want to invest in a vacuum seal system.  New in the box from Wal-Mart they can cost $100 and up.  You can find them up to half off, new in box at Amazon.com.    They are an impressive gift that a lot of people don’t appreciate.  They can also be had in mid-summer at almost any garage sale.They can end up costing less than $10 and from time to time they are available at thrift stores.  
Food saver with accessory port on top

      All you want to do when purchasing second hand at a yard sale is ask if you can plug it in.  Listen that the motor runs.  There is a hole on the side of the top to allow for a tube to vacuum air out of bags.  It is an accessory port. Place your finger on it; feel to see if it vacuums.  Also, close the lid and wait a few seconds.  Lift it and feel if it is warm.  
Accessory tube

     Buy it for a few dollars then go to Wal-Mart or Target, and purchase a roll of bags if it doesn't come with any.  Practice vacuum sealing meats in the heavier plastic.  This will keep meat fresher in the freezer longer than any other wrapping method, as it is air tight and less likely to break when handled like foil.  

     If you like the vacuum sealer, stock up on bags!  Sugar, salt, drink mixes all store in vacuums well.  These are things I never want coming into contact with moisture.  The vacuum method puts a stop to all those concerns.  It wouldn't hurt your prep supplies any to consider vacuum sealing med supplies.   Cotton balls take up a lot less space when the air is sucked out and they stack better in a box.  You can vacuum seal a first response med kit and keep it in your bug out bag until needed.  Vacuum sealers also protect documents and photos from the elements.  If you do not have a laminator to protect your documents you can use a vacuum sealer to protect your will, your maps, your DD-214, your photos, or titles and deeds.  You cna't do that with aluminum foil!  

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