Michelle’s 40-Day Freezer Challenge

As a recipe developer, writer, spokesperson, and media personality, a variety of random foods related to projects find their way into my kitchen. After the third test of a recipe, I might freeze the last batch to enjoy when my taste buds have recovered. I may need only an individual serving of a particular product for a TV segment, so the rest ends up in the freezer. A client may send me a five pound bag of an ingredient when I only needed one. Plus, I buy additional foods for special occasions. Over time, all of this can add up to a freezer ready to burst. Wait, make that freezers. I have a fridge in the garage that I need for overflow. And my husband’s beer.

Each summer we go away for a long vacation. Before each trip I whittle down the food contents of the fridge to the bare minimum in order to prevent waste and return to a clean and pristine icebox. A lightly stocked freezer requires less energy to power and stay cold, and think of all of the money you save by using up food already on hand. Not to mention, once a freezer becomes so full it can be difficult to decipher what is even in there. This summer, though, instead of one long trip I’m taking a number of shorter trips, which so far has led me to get a little lazy with the fridge purge.

But now I have you – my lovely readers - to help keep me accountable and motivate me to get creative designing yummy meals using the foods in my freezer. That is why I’ve decided that for the next 40 days I must consume at least one ingredient from my freezer each day.

The rules I’ve devised are as follows:

1. The ingredient of the day must be one that I don’t already rely on regularly, at least monthly, such as waffles.

2. If I thaw something and discover that it tastes like the freezer, I don’t have to eat it. I will make an effort to find a different ingredient from the freezer for that day.

3. I will not be allowed to buy any more frozen foods during this time, except waffles and the frozen low-cal lunches my husband takes to work.

4. If I don’t prepare any food at home in a given day, I will be exempt for that day.

While I know this exercise will help provide me with a fresh start, I also hope you will gain some new meal ideas. You may even feel inspired to give your freezer a good summer purging.

Won’t you join me?

Happy Friday everybody, and enjoy the weekend ahead.

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9 Comments

  1. Posted July 8, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    When I think of “freezer” I think of the two upright “deep freezes” in the pantry. I am trying to use up all of last years garden bounty, to make way for this year’s harvest. So if the deep freeze counts, I’m in.

    • Michelle Dudash
      Posted July 8, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Joyce,
      Thanks for chiming in. Any freezer will do! Good luck and keep us posted on how it’s going. I’m jealous to hear of your garden bounty!
      Michelle

  2. Kimberly H.
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I was planning on starting that next week anyway…my freezer is small but I have a ton of random items in it. What to do with small quantities of random seafood? I may try a ceviche!

    • Michelle Dudash
      Posted July 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Yay Kim! Random seafood – fish or shellfish? Ceviche could be good. Also seafood enchiladas, bouillabaisse, cioppino, risotto, pasta with red sauce, and chowder. Good luck and thanks for joining me!
      Michelle

  3. Christa
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I need to do this, too. I have a whole chicken in my freezer. Its been there for 5ish months. Have a missed the boat on that one?

    • Michelle Dudash
      Posted July 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Christa,
      5 months of raw chicken in the freezer should be fine to cook still. Do you know what you’re going to do with it? Whole roasted chicken? Coq au vin? So many possibilities! Thanks for joining me!
      Michelle

  4. Renee
    Posted July 12, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Given my propensity for overstocking bread products, it looks like I’ll be eating toast, english muffins, bagels, muffins, and waffles for the next 40 days. But I can say Michelle made me do it – awesome. :)

    I tend to rely on frozen meals quite a bit for work lunches as well. I would love to hear what you think are some (relatively) healthy frozen options.

    • Michelle Dudash
      Posted July 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      Renee,
      Your bread menu sounds good to me – ha! The frozen meals I buy include Amy’s Foods, some of the Kashi line, and some of the Lean Cuisine Market Creations (past client). Another brand I love, but it’s harder to find, is Organic Bistro. With all of these, I stock up on them whenever they’re on sale. There are a few other random brands I buy from the natural foods section, but I can’t recall their names. Frozen entrees are a good opportunity for me to enjoy the foods at home that my husband wouldn’t eat for dinner, like vegetarian Indian food, and well, any other vegetarian food for that matter. I’ve been cooking more lately, so have had more leftovers for lunch, and therefore haven’t had to rely on a frozen meal in a while. Rest assured, you will see them pop up on the blog sometime in the future!

      Michelle

  5. Renee
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Michelle!

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