Sunday, February 26, 2017

Beef order 2017 / Freezer storage solution

   I am so glad (and lucky) I am able to buy meat from a farmer.  I know that's not a viable option for everyone, but I would encourage everyone to contact a local FFA, CSA, even your nearest feed or tractor store to contact a farmer that sells their animals direct to consumer.  No, I'm not talking about bringing a cow home to your backyard (although with enough room, I suppose you could). It means you buy the animal from the farmer who's raised it, and they (or you or another party) take it to the butcher, who takes care of the slaughter and wraps it up nice and neat for you.
   Of course, there's more than one way to do it, but that it how my guy does it. And I'm so glad he does.  I don't even ask ahead of time how much it will be. He just asks "Still want a pig?" Or "I have 2 lambs, you want them?" and I just say yes.  The meat is delicious no matter what kind of animal it is and they aren't raised in a 'commercial' environment - he personally is with them at least twice a day to let them out to pasture, check their water, feed them slop, gather eggs, etc.  And pasture means zero to little feed with who knows what in it.  They aren't given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any other 'boosters' that they just don't need.  They live off grass, clean water, and fresh air, and get feed and hay only when it's too dry or cold to support a forage diet. 
   Okay, I'm off my soapbox.  Look at it this way.  I am supporting a local farmer, I am choosing ahead of time all my cuts, and I am getting delicious meat for a very good price.  Just wait, I'll get to that. I can't promise my price will be yours. In fact, it probably won't if your farmer is doing this as a business. My farmer is going to raise these animals anyway, and you can't have just one right? So he might as well get an extra one or two, sell them to friends, and recoup some of his costs. Like I said - I am lucky.
   Anyway, aside from pouring over my cookbooks that have pictures of cuts of meat and trusting in my butcher to help guide me through the unknowns of meat orders, I also had to come up with a storage solution.  I have a big chest freezer that was gifted to us, but once I put those boxes full of wrapped up meat in there, how in the world do I know what I have?  Note: I can't take credit for the original idea.  People have been doing this for years.

   Solution: Make a list.

   Wait, that's it? Yup. That is it. It seems so simple, right? And it is!  A few minutes of work before  stacking up boxes in the freezer makes for infinitely more minutes I am not trying to dig in the freezer just to see what I have.  Hindsight really is 20/20, because I've dug through that freezer more times than I can count. And when I am short on time and don't have a plan for dinner, the last thing I want to do is move around boxes and bags stacked inside a chest freezer!  If you have one, you know what I'm talking about.
   So I list up how many packages of what, and number the boxes 1, 2, 3, etc. so I know what is where, and hang the list on my freezer upstairs.  Now when I am brainstorming the weekly menu or just trying to get ideas for that night, I know exactly what I have.  And I mark it off as I go, so I can make sure I'm using it and when I need to get more.  I  keep a separate list for beef, pork, lamb, chicken, premade meals (dated), homemade apple cider, veggies, and whatever else goes in that freezer. I started doing in for the stand up freezer, too, just so I wasn't digging through cold boxes with the door standing open.
   So if you've ever lost something in your big freezer, take that extra minute and make an inventory, then keep it up whenever something comes in or out.  You will save yourself time and energy, which you can use on more Joyful things in your life.

Joyfully yours,