Ok, so this may seem a bit odd to post photos of my not-completely-tidy fridge and freezer, but I’ve been asked these questions so many times that it’s probably easiest just to go ahead and post about it!
What do I keep in my fridge and freezer and pantry?
What ingredients do I usually keep on hand?
How do I organize it all?
I have a very small kitchen and a small pantry, so my large chest freezer doubles as my pantry. I buy my grains, seeds, nuts, flours, beans, meat and fish (and a few other things) in bulk, about four times a year. (See this post for more info on the whys and wherefores of bulk buying.)
Where I live, in Far North Queensland, you can’t leave your grains, nuts, seeds and flours out at room temperature for too long or they’ll become mouldy, cobwebby and a home for weevils. (Weevils lay eggs on the grain in the field, but placing grains/flours/seeds in the freezer kills the eggs. It also prevents pantry moths.) Not everything fits in my freezer, so I also have some things stored in sealed 5 Lt buckets, stacked in my laundry. I rotate these through the freezer to kill weevils. As the freezer empties, I put some of those back in on the bottom, under the bags. (See this post for more info on rotating bulk foods through freezer.)
I keep a small amount of flours, grains, seeds, nuts in my kitchen in glass jars and refill from the freezer as needed. (As you can see, sometimes the fresh produce kind of takes over the kitchen…)
The contents of my freezer changes depending on the season, how much fresh fruit I have frozen, whether or not I have bulk meat or fish at the time, and how long its’ been since my last bulk order of grains, etc. In the photo at the top of the page, I have grains, rice, flours, starches, chickpeas, quinoa, a big bag of raw almonds (the silver bag), coconut, frozen berries and mango (I don’t usually buy frozen mango but needed some and had run out), fruits that I’ve frozen myself, bulk meat, and a few other bits and pieces.
In the photo below, at a different time of year, my freezer is mostly full of bulk grains, seeds, nuts, lentils, etc.
As you can see in these photos, I place the large bags (12.5kg and 25kg) in the bottom of my big chest freezer. The smaller bags (5kg, 3kg, 1kg) I place either on top or in the baskets. The good thing about leaving everything in bags is that the bags get smaller as you use what’s in them, whereas containers take up a lot more room and don’t shrink as the contents go down. So I prefer to do it this way even if it doesn’t look quite as neat as a freezer full of neatly stacked, labelled containers! (By the way, I prefer glass containers to plastic, for most things. The plastic jug above was what I used to keep spelt grain in so I could just grab it easily when making bread. Now I just use a glass jar.)
The meat that I buy in bulk is local, grassfed, organic beef and sometimes pork, and wild-caught fish. I store the large pieces (roasts, etc) in the bottom of the freezer, and the smaller packets in baskets. The fish is individually wrapped in fillets and they are in a flat box usually, which I place on top of the bags.
I generally keep small bags of frozen fruits in my fridge freezer (and larger ones in my big freezer), as I use those every day for smoothies, juices, sorbets and ice creams. Whatever fruit is in season I buy and freeze, and I always have bananas frozen – just peeled and popped into bags.
When I cook up a big batch of beans, I freeze those in 250g bags, so I can use them to replace a tin of beans. (1 400g tin of beans usually contains approx. 250g beans.) I also freeze bone broth in jars when I make a big batch.
The photo below is my fridge freezer. As you can see it’s mango season – lots of frozen mango and dehydrated mango! On the bottom left is a snack basket for the kids where I put individually wrapped snacks (eg. bliss balls, coconut fudge, brownies, homemade muesli bars, dried fruit, mini quiches), and the bottom right basket is full of gluten free flours in small amounts so I can grab them as I need them. (The big bag is almond meal.) There’s also ice, homemade coconut cream frozen in ice cube trays ready for smoothies, ice creams, and coffee (I just drop a frozen cube into my coffee), as well as lots of dried mango in bags. The top shelf has frozen fruit (mango, pineapple, nectarines, peaches, plums, dragonfruit, watermelon, lemon/lime juice in cubes in bags, etc), frozen veges, (and some millet because it didn’t fit in the door). And I keep my drink powders (protein powders, greens, etc) on top of the fridge because my pantry is too small for them.
In the fridge freezer door I keep bits and pieces like small bags of buckwheat, spelt grain, nuts, seeds; and there’s a jar of bone broth and some natural food colours there too. (Messy, I know. But like I said, I fit more in with bags instead of containers!)
Okay, and I’m keeping it real here, folks. This is generally what my fridge looks like when I’m in the midst of recipe testing – very overcrowded! (Eeek, embarrassing!) Here’s a quick overview of what’s in there: Vege stock pastes (and sometimes meat stock pastes – made in Thermomix), tahini, jams, sauces (some made in Thermomix, some not, depending on time), mustards, chutneys, nut butter, homemade pickles, yeast in a big jar, ganache, coconut cream (sometimes homemade, sometimes bought), spinach, mushrooms, mini quiches in a bag, dairy free condensed milk, goat’s cheese, silly putty, (ha ha!), homemade lard, meat thawing for dinner, artisan bread dough in a large container, corn, tomatoes, watermelon, chillies, and lots more fruit and veges from my CSA box, leftovers, coconut yoghurt, bone broth in a bottle in the fridge door, free range eggs, nut milk, cow’s milk, non-alcoholic wine, pure maple syrup, probiotics (for making coconut yoghurt & to take), teecino, coffee, ginger, coconut, herbal mixtures (for everything from car sickness to colds), cod liver oil, Loving Earth chocolate, and who knows what else!
My daughter always tells her friends that our fridge is very scary. I guess it is a little crazy… But you should’ve seen it when I was recipe testing for my book and had 7 jars of dairy free aioli in there along with lots of other experiments! (I think I need a walk-in cold room.)
Now, if you’re looking for a photo of inside my pantry, I’m afraid I’ll have to disappoint you. It’s so crowded in there it makes my fridge look empty. Ha. But you can see the kinds of things I keep in stock over on my Bulk Buying post, so check that out. I’ll try to get a more detailed list up soon.
If you’re wondering where to find recipes for any of the things I mentioned above, they’re all on my blog – the easiest way to find them is to just google ‘quirky cooking dairy free condensed milk’ (or whatever it is you’re looking for) as my search box is not working well at the moment (argh). Good news is I’m in the process of upgrading to a new site which will be MUCH easier to use! Hooray!!
Ok, so for a bit of a summary about stocking your pantry/freezer, and a bit of advice on healthy eating, see this interview I did with Louise D’Allura of Meal Planning Your Way…
Hope that helps!