saving money & time by utilizing my freezer

One of my goals for this year is to put at least 10% of each paycheck into my savings. I’ve always been a saver — I was the kid who saved up my Chuck E. Cheese ticket winnings visit after visit to eventually spend on the coveted 1,000-Ticket Big Prize — but in the grown-up world saving isn’t always that easy. As a grad student, there are months it seems downright impossible to put aside any of my small paycheck for savings. Yet I know how important it is to save for the future, and I know how fortunate I am to have a job — after all, even a small paycheck is better than no paycheck.

With that mindset — that even small savings deposits are better than no savings! — I am aiming to discover little ways to save money throughout my daily living. Since I hate wasting food, I’ve gotten in the habit of buying small amounts of produce every week — even produce I really like and eat often — because I don’t want anything to go bad and go to waste. Sometimes this caused me to lose out on good weekly deals because, though I knew I would use up a lot of that specific fruit or vegetable, I wasn’t sure if I would eat it quickly enough. This also lead to some situations where it felt like I was racing against the clock to eat up all of the peaches or blackberries or celery before it went bad and into the trash.

freezing produce

Then I came across this post from my blogging buddy Andrea at Simple Organized Living about how she cuts up and freezes her fruits and veggies {and lots of other goodies, too!} … and it really inspired me! It seems so obvious, but it had never occurred to me that I could freeze my fruits and veggies and use them later. It was like a light-bulb went on in my brain!

Serendipitously, this week at the grocery store, they were having a great sale on bell peppers, something I use often in my cooking. Normally I would have bought one, maybe two, and made sure to use them up in dishes this week. But now I knew exactly what to do to take full advantage of the sale: use my freezer!

I bought half a dozen bell peppers, used two in recipes this week just like I normally would have, and then took a few extra minutes to chop up the rest. Then all I had to do was put them into ziplock baggies and into the freezer!

bell peppers

I used one small bag per bell pepper, because typically my recipes use one bell pepper at a time. An extra bonus is that cooking with these frozen veggies will be easier than ever because the chopping is already done! Surprisingly, it seemed much faster to get in the zone and chop up four bell peppers in one go than it does chopping them up one at a time.

And I felt so proud putting these babies into the freezer. I pictured a harried, midterm version of my Future Self, hungry and desperate to get dinner on the table, and I thought, “This is my gift to you, Future Self.  You’re welcome!”

Do any of you use your freezer to stock up on produce? I’d love to hear your money-saving tips!

quick freezer organization

A couple weeks ago I confessed my tendency to hide my messes inside cabinets and behind closed doors. But since starting this blog I have resolved to organize my home — and my life — from the inside-out. With that in mind, I finally summoned the courage to tackle my freezer.

{Cue the horror music …}

Yep, it was bad. Every time I opened the freezer something would come tumbling out. And I had absolutely no idea what I had in the back of the freezer {I knew most of it probably hopelessly freezer-burned by this point.} How much money and food was I wasting with such a disorganized freezer?

It was time to finally tackle this hidden mess and organize my freezer for good.

My first step was taking everything out of the freezer and giving it a good wipe-down with disinfecting spray.

Better already, right?

Then I sorted through all the food, checking expiration dates and freezer burn-edness. I had to toss a lot out.

My last step was simply putting the food that was still good back in the freezer, organized by type: veggies on one side, side dishes in the middle, and meat on the other side.

TA-DA!

Look at all the space! Look how easy it is to find things! I am swooning over here.

And all it took was a little courage, a trash bag and about 15 minutes of my time!

Are there any projects you’ve been scared to tackle, but once you do it’s waaaaay less intimidating than you imagined? I’d love to hear your success stories!

-Dallas

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Time spent: 15 minutes
Cost: nothing