A very full freezer, indeed

When I came home from my favorite natural meat store earlier this week, I was rather surprised to discover this as I struggled to put away the items I had bought:


It's nearly full!

I know that I've been working hard to fill it all summer (mostly with fruit and some frozen garden veggies), plus there's the beef that we bought with some extra money in the spring, and I just added a bit of chicken and turkey to it to last us the next month or two. I probably shouldn't have been surprised, but I was.

Preserving so much food this summer has been a lot of work. More than any other summer, ever. There have been many days when I have wondered whether it was worth it, and this week was no exception as I canned 4 out of 7 days (I'll show a photo soon), not to mention freezing and dehydrating. Even though October has arrived, I know I'm not done yet. There's still many more tomatoes (I've only just had enough ripen for a first batch of canning), plenty of pumpkins, some more pickles, the rest of a large box of apples sitting in my dining room, as well as fall garden vegetables to either freeze, can or put in cold storage (peas, spinach, carrots, turnips, etc.).

I'll confess- when I first realized how full the freezer was, and that I had some major reorganizing work to do, I was tempted for a moment to grumble. I was already tired of all that I had done this week, and spending possibly hours reorganizing this freezer (plus the upstairs fridge one) didn't really sound all that appealing to me. Then these words that I had read earlier this week at Tammy's came back to me, as she reflected on a night of "surprise" canning when a neighbor gave a box of unexpected tomatoes:

One of the things I learned from my parents' example was not to
waste. When God said that He would provide all of our needs, He didn't
say that it would be done in the way
we wanted, at the time that we
wanted. Being willing to work hard and sacrifice leisure time in order
to accept His blessings is something I still work on being disciplined

Did I need the extra tomatoes right now? No, I didn't. But what if
next year's need was being supplied right now — and I refused it? How
can we throw away food today and yet expect tomorrow's needs to be

The hard work this summer to garden and glean and pick berries and freeze fruit and can jam and all that other stuff has been worth it. We are now going into the winter with a well stocked freezer and pantry, and what better time could this come at? With the economic turmoil going on and food prices continually on the rise, how glad I am that I've spent so much time this spring and summer putting food away.

Going back to Tammy's quote, what I recognized in the split second after I considered grumbling was that we are so incredibly blessed. God has been very, very good to us and has provided for our needs so richly this year, as He has always done in the past. Sometimes it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but that doesn't make it any less from His hand. I'm so grateful that He has given me the opportunity to ensure that I have plenty of nourishing foods to feed my family, as well as to use for hospitality to others.

How has God blessed your family and shown His provision to you? Have you also spent time this summer preserving foods while they were cheap and available (or perhaps from your own garden)? And any tips for me on organizing a very full freezer?

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  1. Stephanie — You might find the crates I use in my freezer helpful. I love them because I can lift out a whole crate and get to the bottom of the freezer faster. Here’s a picture:


    We planted our first garden this year and are already planning an expansion for next year! It’s been so much fun, and although I knew the cost benefits… WOW… I guess I just never really paid attention. We’ve got some beautiful green bell peppers ripening now (along with tons of tomatoes and pumpkins). I shudder to think what I would have to pay for those all winter!

    And the generosity of family and friends sharing from their overabundant stash (I currently have a 5 gallon bucket of pears in my basement from my uncle’s tree, and my neighbor… well, he loves to plant and care for a garden, but he doesn’t USE any of the produce!) has been such a blessing!

    Enjoy your full freezer!

  2. I here ya. My husband and I recently moved and our income was drastically reduce (he is going back to school) so last night we redid our budget. Although luckily our grocery portion stayed the same, quite a few other categories were cut. At first I was wondering how we would make it work but then I went to take food out of the freezer tomorrow and it started falling on me. I realized that my freezer and cupboards are about to explode with good nutritious food, we have a roof over our heads and a God that loves us enough to meet all our needs, physical, emotional and spiritual. Yes, this period in our life will be “tight” but our God is good and I know He will provide.

  3. Awesome “stash’! 😀 This year has been the biggest gardening, canning, and food preservation project I have ever done. I still have some items left to can, mainly bits of appley goodness, along with 100 lbs of ground beef to be pressure canned. I am also storing some root veggies and apples “root cellar” style and still have to get to work on this venture in the next week. I have been very blessed this year to get many fruits & veggies from strangers off of Craigslist or friends of friends who heard that I was canning. I even managed to barter some of my homecanned goods, homemade herbal medicines & cleaning products, and soaps with other people to get some of their nice homemade goods that I do know how to make or did not have opportunity to make. What fun!

    I wish I had some tips about organizing a packed freezer, as I really need some myself ;o)

  4. Our neighbor man brought us tomatoes on Sunday evening, about 12-15. I knew we couldn’t eat them all before they were too ripe so on Monday evening I figured out how to save them. I blanched them, peeled, chopped and tossed them in the blender. Gave it a whirl and I now have tomato puree in my freezer.

    Your words (and Tammy’s) spoke to me today. Thank you.

  5. Ohhh gosh, how I wish I would’ve read this 4 hours earlier when I dumped some tomatoes into the trash because… 1) I didn’t know what to do with them, and 2) I was just overwhelmed with having them just sit on the counter.

    Next time I’ll remember Tammy’s quote! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Amy, those crates are such a great idea! Thanks!

    Amy B, what a great idea to barter on Craiglist! I’ve noticed you doing a lot of canning and such this summer. Your jams are always such interesting flavors. I love it!

    Suzy, I think we all do stuff like that sometimes. I’m sure that next time you’ll think of a way to use them. 🙂

  7. What a great post! We have been so blessed by God this year and at times I don’t even grasp it when it’s happening. I hate it when I do that. 🙂 He has been so good to us and continues to meet our needs unexpectedly.

    We do not have excess, but our needs are met and it’s amazing. In the last week alone we’ve received a bag of pears, 6 loaves of bread, a head of broccoli, 20 jars of baby food, a bag of clothes, 3 plastic storage bins, and a friend e-mailed me asking if I wanted any tomatoes.

    And I can’t believe that I still worry about making it through the winter. Forgive me, Lord. He is so faithful!

  8. I am also feeling exhausted from doing all the canning and freezing and such. I sometimes look at my freezer and pantry though and wish I’d done even more. Then I have to remember I did all I possibly could. Energy-wise for the work and also for tracking down sources and many times its really hard to find sources for things where I live. I did more than I should have, in some ways. I still feel guilty about giving up canning another bushel of tomatoes that a woman at the farmer’s market phoned me about. But I’d already done two, had a bushel of carrots sitting ready to freeze, had herbs to dehyrate, a house that needs cleaning (it had been 2 weeks…yeah), a husband needing attention, a toddler needing attention and discipline, etc. etc. etc. not to mention my tiredness due to pregnancy and adjusting to my DH having a new job and new hours/responsibilities. I am so blessed by what we HAVE done and what God HAS provided. However sometimes I wish I would live in a different place to get things cheaper, or more easily, with less hassle, etc. I wish my garden did better this year. I have to remember to be content with the amazing blessings God HAS provided instead of focusing on the other things. And to keep my priorities straight when it comes to doing all this extra work. How do you handle the extra work while maintaining balance? I mean, of course I know its a sacrifice. Of course I know its exhausting. Sometimes I want to refuse things people offer to me as well. 99% of the time I haven’t. But a few times I have like I mentioned. When I was in the middle of having my kitchen cupboards painted and we weren’t even living in our house for 2 weeks, it wasn’t the time to accept an offer for free raspberries. But oh, I wanted to! We did have to get the work done though. I still ended up blanching green beans from my garden on a coleman stove in my backyard. 🙂 How do you balance all the needs? I want to have the right priorities. It was my DH who told me not to accept those tomatoes. I have to see he had a point. To get the other 2 bushels done I had to stay up one night until 2 am. Not exactly a good idea. Any thoughts on how to balance the work of putting up food with the other needs of your family?

    As for the freezer- I find I can fit more in when I don’t use the baskets that are part of my freezer. I take them out and more fits in. However not all freezers even have those. Bags also work better for fitting more in than containers, unfourtunately they aren’t as easily re-usable though. And cost more in one way. Putting in the big things first (like a whole chicken) works better than putting small things in first. The smaller things can fit around the bigger things. These ideas might be things you’ve already thought of though.

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