DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are over 8000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

26 May 2016

Take a peek in my stockpile and pantry

I realised in the past couple of days that soon I'll go through another life change. On Saturday June 11 at 11am, I'm giving my last public talk. As many of you know I retired after the book tour and this talk at the Toowoomba Library is the last part of the tour. It's the last time I'll ever be out and about spreading the word about simple life. I've been doing it for a long time now, sometimes at libraries and sometimes with like-minded folk at workshops. I feel very grateful to have been given the chance to connect with so many people and I've been surprised at the number of people who have come along. It's been a highlight of my life. But the time has come to withdraw back into my own life and let someone else take the spotlight.

If you've been thinking of coming along to one of my talks, this is the last one. If you can come along, I'd love to meet you. Hanno will be with me and we'll hang around for a while after the event to talk to whoever is there. The event is free but you must book, the booking page is here.

= = = ♥︎ = = =

It is well known over at the forum that Rose's organisation posts are great motivators and help us set up various routines for house work. Recently Rose started a month long series of posts called The Simply Organised Challenge. The challenge ran for 28 days focusing on different tasks and ways of working. The full challenge is there for you to read through and if you have the time to do that, I know you'll be pleased you did it.  She's just started on a decluttering challenge but start with the organisational challenge first because it will help you organise yourself and think about your work in a different way.  Day one is here.

= = = ♥︎ = = =

I cleaned out and organised my stockpile, pantry cupboards and freezer in the last couple of weeks. It was a job I didn't particularly want to do but I knew it had to be done. My sidekick Hanno was there to help so we rolled up our sleeves and got to it. I love looking in those cupboards now and I feel pleased that we put in the time to clean and organise all the goodies we have in there.

This is our stockpile cupboard. I store unopened food and jars in here. When a product is being used, I take it from the stockpile, often store the contents in a glass jar, and then store it in the pantry.

There is no real secret to organising groceries or cleaning the cupboards that contain them. Vacuum the cupboards, especially along the shelf edges to get rid of any small insect eggs or dust. Use something mild like vinegar or soap and water to clean the shelves, then allow them to dry completely before returning the food. Check and wipe every jar or tin as you return it to the cupboard. Look at use-by dates and if that date has already passed, if it's in glass, clear plastic or cellophane, check the contents. Remove anything that is mouldy, obviously fermenting in a jar or jars with bulging, rusty or damaged lids. Remove tins that are bulging too.

These two photos are of our pantry.  Only opened food, currently in use, is kept in the pantry.

When you bring dried foods home from the shop, place them in the freezer for two days to kill off anything lurking in the packet.  Then place the packet on the shelf in your cupboard. If you already have stock in the cupboard, place newly purchased products at the back, and take from the front.

Above is the layer of meat placed in the freezer when we restocked it. It's mostly beef, chicken, pork and lamb, with a pack of puff pastry on the side.  Below is the freezer yesterday, it still has the layer of meat at the bottom and now has a pack of salmon portions, rosellas, elderberries and a container of soup in there as well.

It's a good idea to run your freezer down at least once a year, defrost it, clean it out and return everything as soon as possible.  We did this before we went away in March and left the freezer empty for almost four weeks. When we restocked, I placed a layer of various meats at the bottom of the chest freezer, I may go to two layers later on, but more more. On top of the meat I have at various times, bread, fruit juice, frozen vegetables or fruit picked from the garden. I have nearly 6kg of rosellas and a few packs of elderberries in there at the moment. I always store the fruit and bread either in the baskets or on top to prevent them being squashed before they freeze solid.  A written inventory of the freezer helps a lot, especially with a chest freezer. Just itemise what's already in there and list new items when you add them. Make sure you describe and date everything and cross off what you take from the freezer.




And just a quick word about the fridge because we all store food in there too.  About a year ago I discovered sealing clips and bought a pack of 10. Since then I've become a convert and have them in constant use to seal plastic bags in the vegetable crisper and open packets of frozen peas in the freezer.  My vegetables are lasting much longer and those clips have saved me wasting food. Currently I have a cauliflower and broccoli in bags sealed with the clips and they've kept extremely well for the past two weeks. Even soft vegetables like capsicums have kept in these bags unwrinkled for 3 - 4 weeks. When I showed these clips to a friend she said they'd been out for years but as I rarely shop nowadays I'd never seen them. You may well using them too and if you are, I'd love to know your opinion of them.


And finally, the best way to keep celery fresh is to cut off the top and store that in a bag for use in soups and stews, then wash the celery under the cold tap, shake out the excess water and wrap the it in aluminium foil.  If you completely cover the celery in foil, it will stay crisp and useable for six weeks.

If you have time, tell me about your storage methods. We all buy or grow food so it's an important topic, and having tried and true storage methods will help us all cook healthy food with little or no waste.

51 comments:

  1. Good Morning Rhonda...Could you please tell me where you purchased those clips from......Thank you...Warm Regards The Other Rhonda

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    1. Hi Rhonda, I bought them at Target. xx

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    2. I have also seen them at Woolworths, in the kitchen items section, and Ikea have them as well.

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    3. I have also bought them from Woolworths, in the kitchen items isle, and Ikea - I think they do a bag of 20 or 30, small, medium and large sized for only a few dollars. I also use them to seal bags of frozen peas and corn in the freezer, as well as small packets of nuts and other dried goods, if I have bought something for a specific recipe and there is a little left over - not enough to bother transferring to a jar. I think they're great.

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  2. You deserve to take a step back Rhonda, although I would have loved seeing you overseas.. ;o)

    I also use the clips you are showing. For many years now and I have to say.. I like them a lot! And not only me. The kids love to play with them (like as in building blocks, roadsides or food to put in theor tiny pans..) Even our cat does like to play with it.. (lol!) But if they are in use for what they are meant for.. I use them for almost everything.

    'Thanks' for the de-frost reminder.. :o(

    Love from Holland

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  3. Good morning Rhonda, like you I seal all the bags of veggies really well, the leafy greens we wrap in newspaper, this keep them fresh and stops them from wilting. I buy the bread flour in bulk and keep it in large square food safe containers that keep the flour fresh. All of my spices, seeds and nuts are kept in glass jars for freshness and being able to see at a glance how much is left. We but very little meat and what we do buy is used for that weeks meals. My hubby is an amazing fisherman, when he catches fish, he fillets them and freezes the fillets into meal size portions, on trays and then uses a vacuum sealer to suck all the air out. The fish stays super fresh and moist.
    Have a great day
    Fi

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    1. We have very similar systems, Fiona. What a great DH! I remember he was with you when we met again in Maleny. I wish I could say we eat a lot of fish but at $40 - $50 a kilo for our local fish, we only have it occasionally now.

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  4. When I saw that your last talk is coming up, immediately I thought "I must go to it!" The only problem is, I live outside of Seattle, WA, USA. That's 7355 miles/11,836 km, a 22 hour flight, and apparently a $1500 USD ticket away. Well, that's not meant to be. I'm so grateful that you've written your blog for so many years. I started reading in 2014 but went back a few months ago to read everything from the beginning. I've worked my way up to September 2012. I am enjoying it so much! I make myself a cup of tea and settle in for a bit every day. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with me. I am 49 years old, I was lucky enough to learn a lot from my paternal grandmother who was in her 20's during the Great Depression, but I can always learn more. And Liebe Grüße to Hanno! My grandfather was born in Stuttgart, I majored in German at university and spent many happy times with my cousins and friends there including a visit to Hamburg one time. Hugs to you both.

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    1. I'm very pleased you're enjoying reading through the blog, Lilypad. I'll pass your good wishes on to Hanno, thank you. xx

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  5. I love these pictures and all the helpful advice. This is a great help to many to keep their food and kitchens in order.

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  6. Oooo... what a great tip about freezing dry goods before storing them. I'll have to try that. I've never seen those clips here in the states - I'll have to keep an eye out for them. My technique for keeping veggies fresh is to either store them in airtight glass containers, or to wrap them in a layer of waxed paper inside a plastic bag. The waxed paper cannot be recycled, but it can be composted.

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    1. Ecocatlady, I just checked the US Ikea and they have the clips: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/70083252/

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    2. Call me odd (but perhaps I'm among friends?), but we wash our grease proof / waxed paper. Easy. Toodle hoo, Katja Denmark Australia

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  7. Morning Rhonda, I have been using the same kind of clips as your ones for awhile now. I love how easy they are to use on frozen vegies, especially the peas. We also use them on packets that don't live in containers in the pantry, like puffed rice and dried fruits. They are easy for the boys to use as well. I followed your advice and wrapped my last bunch of celery and am so pleased that it held well. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

    I will be working on our pantry next week as part of my decluttering. I am joining in Rose's current challenge and am really enjoying getting through some of the jobs I have delayed for too long.

    You have done amazingly well sharing your journey, life lessons and experience. I know I really appreciate your blog and the forum as wonderful places of both inspiration and information. Oh, and the forum is a lovely place of support. So, once again thank you lovely lady for sharing your life with us and offering a guiding hand. I hope your retirement brings you a chance to relax and enjoy the life you and Hanno have woven. Have a lovely day. Cheers, Deb


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    1. Awww, thank you Deb. What a lovely note. I'm pleased you're working through the decluttering challenge with Rose. She is a wise lady. xx

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  8. Hi Rhonda,

    You can buy packets of those bag clips at IKEA, varying sizes in a pack, for about AU $1.50 I think. I use them all the time, they are great! Thanks as always for your generous advice.

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  9. Hi Rhonda, I followed the toowoomba library link for your last talk & it said to book @ the venue, & no phone bookings, I live @ Mt Tamborine so that way of booking is a bit tricky, did I miss a link or something, would love to come with my hubby, Deb M

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    1. I thought it was a ticket booking, Deb. Leave it with me, come back later this afternoon and I hope to have an answer for you. I might be able to make the booking for you. Is it for you or you and your DH?

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    2. Thanks Rhonda, it's for both of us if possible, Deb

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    3. Thanks again Rhonda, I have sent the email, Deb M

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  10. Really enjoy your blog and have two of your books. Before you give up public speaking, perhaps you would consider a US tour ;).

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    1. I'd get lost over there, Hilogene. xx

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  11. Good job Rhonda and just in time for June in The Simple Home! I'm intrigued by your posters on the inside of the right hand door in the top photo, the Dishwashing Dance is a giggle, is the top one local birds?

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    1. Hi Rose, the Dishwasher dance poster came with a Frankie mag that I bought last year. Yes, local bird guide at the top and local planting guide on the left. I find that if I attach these posters to the inside door I always have them on hand and don't have to go looking when I need them.

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  12. I am a reader of your blog and love the many tips you have.
    I never knew from the celery and I certainly will do this.
    Here in Canada(Alberta) the weather is getting warmer!! Time to bring the flowers out.
    thanks.
    Wilma

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  13. Lots of good tips Rhonda, thankyou. I have used the clips for open bags of snacks etc in the pantry but not in the fridge, I will have to give it a try. I think I bought mine at IGA a few years ago. With the inventory for your freezer, fridge or even pantry if it helps, I have laminated a piece of paper & you can then use a whiteboard marker or liquid chalk pen to write on it. It just rubs off when you need to change or update it. Also you can blue-tac it to the door to keep it handy. Good luck with your last talk. I am so happy I got to see you in Wagga a few months ago.
    Amie F, NSW

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    1. Great tip re the laminated page, Amie, thank you. Wasn't Wagga great! We had quite a few forum girls turn up there. :- )

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    2. It was great. Take care x
      Amie

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  14. Hi Rhonda, I have been using the bag clips for several years now, I use them for anything that I don't have a special container for, such as some cereals, dried fruits, custard powder, frozen veg, but have never thought to use them to seal the vegie bags in the fridge, will give it a try though. I also wrap celery in foil & it keeps for weeks. I was saddened to read that your last public talk will be next month, you are such an inspiration to so many people, however I was very fortunate to have met you on your book tour & you will continue to inspire me through your lovely books which I look through most weeks & always find something new to try. Enjoy retirement, you have definitely deserved it. I hope the blog won't dissappear anytime soon though, it's my lifeline.

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    1. I remember meeting you Karen, it was Melbourne, wasn't it? Thanks for your kind words, I'm looking forward to stepping back. I'll keep the blog and forum going so don't worry.

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    2. It was in Wangaratta, I'm surprised you can remember with the amount of people you'd have met on your tour. Glad to hear the forum & blog will still be there.

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  15. Wow, I can't believe celery can keep for 6 weeks! Great tip. Thanks.

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  16. Hi Rhonda, loved a look at your stockpile and also read the link to your other blog on stockpiling. I use clothes pegs to do the same job as those clips do and have been doing that for years. I am not very competent on the computer but will have to have a look at the forum and follow the organizational tips.Hope you are going to keep this blog going for sometime yet as you are one of the best links to a simpler life I have found. I know you will enjoy being able to just potter at home without any outside stresses, wishing you good fortune , best wishes.

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    1. Thank you, anon. I just wanted to say that I think the clips are better than pegs, rubber bands and knots tied in the bag. They easily make the bag air tight and that's the key to it.

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  17. Thank you for the tip on celery didn't know that one, am looking forward to the talk in Toowoomba, already have my ticket. Thanks again for sharing. Guida

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    1. Me too! Come over and say hello after the talk. xx

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  18. Hi Rhonda
    First of all congrats on your retirement. Hats off to you for igniting the simple living passion in all of us. Thanks to discovering your blog my whole life has been transformed.Through you I learnt about soapmaking, which is now a favourite hobby and through your inspiration, I do not buy a single commercial cleaner.
    Take care and may every second of your retirement be filled with joy.
    Zabeena

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    1. Thanks Zabeena, your comment made me smile. I appreciate your kind words.

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  19. Oh, I'm sad I never got to see you on your tour, I had hoped that one day we would be able to see you as when the shop sells (one day) we are looking at doing a big holiday up around that general area (broadly speaking) to look at farm land. Id quietly hoped you would some how be miraculously holidaying a talk and we could detour by. But not to be. Enjoy your retirement from book writing and touring Rhonda, may you find the deep contentment in picking up all the simple living activities you love so much.

    We are starting the renovations in our cottage kitchen soon. I cannot wait for a proper pantry to stock properly in and see what we have.

    xx

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  20. A while ago I found special bags which help keep fruit and veg frsh for much longer in the fridge. They apparently contain something which slows the decay. I find they are really helpful for salad in particular. They aren't as cheap as ordinary bags, but they still seem to work after washing and drying. They are also quite large, so can be cut in half and fastened top and bottom with pladtic clipsvto make an extra bag

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  21. Hope your last talk goes well, I know a lot of folk will miss you giving these talks. I have just started reading through your latest book, bought for me as a birthday present by my Lovely Hubby.

    I used to use those clips, but now I've switched to clothes pegs. Just the ordinary plastic ones that i use to peg out the washing. I keep a handful in the kitchen drawer so that they are clean for use in the cupboard, fridge and freezers.

    For keeping my food fresh I use Stayfresh bags available in the UK from Lakeland Limited. I have been using the same dozen bags, washed out between each use, for the last five or so years. I find they keep my celery as fresh as the tinfoil method, which I trialled a couple of months ago. So I'll stick to my bags for now :-)

    It's been lovely to have a sneaky peek into your larder.

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  22. Good morning from Texas! I wish I could have seen you at one of your talks, but can't make it to your part of the world in time 😜.
    I have used regular clothespins for years to close bags and packages, like cereal, chips, bread bags, etc. it is so humid here in Houston, things get stale very quickly.

    I love your blog and am in the process of reading your books. Thanks for all you do!

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  23. Rhonda, I am so happy for you and sad for me - in a selfish way of course. I only recently found your blog. Have read one of your books and have the watch on 'Down to Earth' which is currently out of stock, but will be purchasing it as soon as it's back in stock. I wish you peaceful sunrises, happy squash, and productive chickens:) May you enjoy each day - well deserved. Your writing is so inspiring, and I am merely a fragment of the population you have touched with your insight. Thank you for putting the effort into your books for those of us who are chomping at the bit to get started &/or continue and for those who have not yet discovered this path but will have such valuable resources when they do.
    Blessings

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  24. Rhonda, congratulations on your retirement and I hope you enjoy your last public speaking engagement - like so many posters have mentioned, I wish I could be there. There is something in the way you've described your feelings that reminds me of the endings of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with Bilbo Baggins returning to his beloved Bag End after many amazing adventures. Thanks also for so many wonderful posts lately. I've have been reading them (and thinking about them, especially the climate change post), just haven't made it to the comments box. Organizing - it's what for breakfast today and I need to stop reading and get moving. The last few months have been full of changes because of a downturn in my Mom's health. We spent much of April working to move her out of her senior apartment and into my brother's home. Many of her belongings have migrated to my house, which is small, so I need to keep on refining my space. Beth in MN

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    1. I'm sorry to read about your mum's health, Beth. Take care, love. xx

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  25. Hi Rhonda Jean ♥ It's been years and years, but I wanted to pop in and let you know that I am still reading along. Thinking of you especially as you look toward your last speaking engagement and will be lifting you up on the day. Love & hugs! Quinne

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    1. Quinne, what a wonderful surprise! Thank you for your kindness. You are one of the people who pops into my head occasionally. I'll keep writing on the blog for a while yet. I hope you're well and happy. xx

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    2. Oh, I am delighted to read that you will keep on writing ♥ All is well here on east coast USA. My sweetlings are growing up way too quickly - ha! They are all healthy and learning and enjoying our daily days. Love & hugs again!

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  26. Wish that I could have been to your talks, but since I am so far away I have loved your blog, your first book and the Forum. Rose is such an encourager and I am doing the 28 day decluttering chalendge. Carolyn in Florida

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  27. It sounds like your 'retirement' is something that you are really looking forward to, I am happy for you that you can embrace it and look forward to more interesting and inspiring posts here.

    I have been using those clips for years I have a selection of them, some of which are over ten years old! I love your advice about storing veg but I don't need it right now it never lasts that long in our house as it always gets eaten!

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  28. have been reading thru your older posts and really appreciate the tip about keeping celery in foil. thanks!

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