I hope you are sitting in the shade, with a cool drink at your elbow, and a breeze ruffling through the wind chimes in the back yard. It is fiery hot all over the world as we can see on the news every night. Europe is burning up, there are terrible fires and droughts, and it is a record-breaking summer for high temps. Luke the wonder dog and I have mixed feelings about the afternoon thunderstorms: they bring relief from the heat, but we can’t walk because of the lightning. We compromise by sitting on the front porch, watching the rain drops sizzle on the sidewalk.
Pre-COVID and pre-inflation I thought nothing about buzzing to the grocery store every day or two, mostly to get out of the house since I work from home and it gets lonely. Luke is charming and is a very good dog, but his conversation rarely sparkles. During COVID I rarely left the house, being cautious and wary. Now I barely leave, because of the heat and all the rising prices. Like most people I have been shocked by how much things cost now, and I have been trying to be careful about not wasting food. I just finished reading a book about daily life in wartime Britain, so I have nothing to complain about, really. I’m not dodging bombs by night and surviving on 4 ounces of meat a week. There are 3 kinds of butter in my fridge at this very minute.
I realize how very fortunate we are, and what our responsibility is to the planet. So I’m taking fewer trips to the grocery store in my gas-powered car. I’m going to waste less, and freeze more. And I have been surprised to learn how many things can be frozen in addition to the usual freezer staples of hamburger, chicken, frozen peas, ice cream and tater tots. It is amazing and revelatory what you can pack into baggies, jars and ice cube trays.
Cheese! Did you know you can freeze Cheddar cheese? Also Parmesan cheese and feta. And if you grate the cheese before you freeze it, you can reach in and grab a pinch for a taco, a salad, or your loyal dog. I was always finding little blue, moldy lumps of cheese in the refrigerator drawer before, but now I am reformed.
Garlic! Peel a head of garlic and freeze the cloves – you can grate them straight out of the freezer. No more garlic sprouting green shoots in that little bowl you used to keep by the stove! No more bowl! You’ll have a reliable source of already-peeled garlic cloves and you will be ready for any salad emergency. https://www.marthastewart.com/317822/garlic-vinaigrette
Melons! Don’t freeze them whole: cube them or use a melon baller once you have enjoyed some watermelon or cantaloupe, when you know no one else will touch the remaining fruit. Now you’ll have a smoothie starter. No more excuses. Cut up and bag up a couple of bananas, too. I always have bananas turning brown in the fruit bowl, and there is only so much banana bread one person can bake. https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/our-favorite-banana-bread-56389378
Berries! We have learned this summer that it is easy to freeze blueberries at home. Have you seen the price for frozen blueberries at the grocery store? Holy smokes. The next time blueberries go on sale, buy a few pints, wash them and put them in the freezer, flat in baggies. You’ll feel so much better after a healthy breakfast, and so smug that you have saved money, again. The same is true for raspberries and strawberries. They can get a little mushy once they have been frozen, but if you can add them to smoothies, or ice cream, or a fancy Pavlova. https://food52.com/recipes/77123-berries-and-cream-pavlova
Vegetable peelings! Unless you are a religious composter, what do you do with your vegetable peelings? Right in the trash. I know you can’t think about homemade soup right now, but in the winter you will be so happy to open the freezer drawer and see your little stash of potato, carrot, onion, shallots, celery leaves and turnip peelings. You will have the tastiest soup stock around! https://www.seriouseats.com/save-your-vegetable-scraps-make-stock
Herbs! So far this summer I haven’t killed the basil, mint or rosemary plants, so I do go out and cut little recipe-sized bunches. But I also have had to buy $3 bunches of cilantro – from which I use about 45¢ worth of leaves. I’d rather not leave the remaining leaves to molder away in the fridge, again. I now have a little cache of carefully labeled and dated bags of frozen cilantro, sage, chives, thyme and Italian parsley. Before the first frost I will add the homegrown basil, mint and rosemary. https://lifemadesimplebakes.com/how-to-freeze-fresh-herbs/
Bread! I buy good French baguettes at the pricey grocery store, and immediately freeze them. Baguettes are good for sandwiches, croutons, bread crumbs, French bread pizza, French toast, steak sandwiches, bruschetta, garlic bread, French onion soup, and panzanella salad. I also freeze English muffins, when they are on sale. https://www.forkly.com/food/15-useful-recipe-ideas-using-a-single-french-baguette/
Here are some more ideas: https://www.thriftyfrugalmom.com/foods-to-freeze-that-freeze-well/
Remember to hydrate, stay in the shade, wear sun screen, wear a hat, and look both ways. And Luke is available if you want to go for a morning walk.
“Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.”
― Harper Lee