Food Hoarders: Frozen Alive...

I will never forget our Fourth of July party last year. It was a housewarming party of sorts, so it was the first time most of our friends had seen our new home, and it was also a potluck. My friend, Jess, was in charge of bringing a dessert, and when she showed up on that brutally hot day with ice cream sandwiches in tow, I should have been elated -- after all, they are my favorite ice cream novelty. However, I was horrified, and more than a little embarrassed, as she went to stash them in the freezer and found it practically packed to the gills with food. A piece of paper would barely fit in there, much less a couple boxes of ice cream sandwiches. Luckily, we were able to move things around enough to find a spot for them, but the look on Jess' face when she saw how over-stuffed our freezer was has always stuck with me.

Last month, I did make a valiant effort to clear out some of the backlog in order to have the space to store cookie dough for the Cookie Bonanza, but once the cookies were baked, that extra space was quickly put to use to store more food. When I opened the freezer this week and saw the sorry state it had once again achieved, I knew it was time to take action. Even if it wasn't an official New Year's resolution for this year, it was clear that cleaning out our freezer needed to be my first big project of 2013.

I knew the first step needed to be a comprehensive inventory, because the situation had gotten out of control to the point that I had no idea what was even in there anymore. I enlisted Justin's help, and as he diligently pulled every item out of the freezer, I recorded it all on my iPad. There were items that I scarcely remembered, duplicate items that I bought because I didn't realize I already had them, and scarily, even a few things that preceded our move almost a year ago that had come from my old freezer. Clearly this was a project that was overdue.

Looking at all the food I had to work with, I created an extensive meal plan designed to employ at least one ingredient from the freezer in each dish, while trying to select recipes for consecutive that employed common ingredients to cut down on what I would need to buy from the store. Hopefully, if I can reign in my impulse cooking and can stick to this plan, I'll be able to not only make some space in my freezer, but save some money on groceries for the next month or so as well...

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