We’ve only two adults in the household these days (not counting pets of any age) and here’s a few ideas I use for ‘down sizing’ & trying to manage the food rotation. All just a few basic ideas, humble opinions, etc., that I’m happy to share with any & all that may be interested.
1. When I home can foods, I use MORE PINT JARS than quart jars simply because we are two and not four or more, right now. Exceptions most noteworthy being food products the two of us use a lot of, like tomatoes, tomato based sauces, salsa mixes, & quick pickled veggies, simply because our two, singular yet like-minded taste palates can eagerly consume a quart of any within a week or so. So, nothing goes to waste and most things that are well processed and if not used within a year can also remain ‘shelf safe’ for a much longer time.
For another food example, my husband & I could both eat green beans or green garden peas eight days a week (so I have canned both green beans and green peas in quart jars) but canned carrots, not so much. Not that there’s anything wrong with canned carrots, ha, ha, ha, – – – just not a ‘go to’ canned veggie for us! I mostly only need a smaller amount of carrots for certain soup, stew and casserole recipes. Therefore, carrots are assigned pint jars only, for now. Saves on food waste.
I’m also hoping to teach myself how to (properly & consistently) can preserves, jams & jellies – which I hear ??? isn’t as scary as I imagine – this summer. Since a) this will be an ‘experiment’ of sorts and b) we love such but don’t need or crave such every week, I’ll be starting out with even smaller, 1/2 pint (one cup), jars. This way, even if it turns out like syrup for pancakes, ice cream, or for use with decadent smoothie type shakes, not much will go to waste or over indulgence as we take our time in consuming an open container of such. 🙂
This non-discriminating veggie / fruit buying example was a ” newbie food prepper” mistake I made early on . . . I started buying several (equal number of each) cans of every fruit & vegetable on sale in the grocery store until I had to slap myself ‘up-the-back-side-of-the-head’ (Gibb’s style, as on the TV show, ‘NCIS’). Took a year or so to realize I’d shunned the untouched cans of mixed “fruit cocktail” languishing in the corner of the pantry, long after eating many a can of preferred, sliced pineapples, peach or pears halves. Then (surprise, surprise) suddenly, those ignored cans of “fruit cocktail” were about to reach their “use by” dates. Poor containers of fruit cocktail really deserved a more appreciative audience!
In summarizing, to rotate all successfully, don’t buy as much of things further down on you &/or your house-mate(s) wish list as you do of things you each like, much better! 🙂
2. Be vigilant (“UGH,” said BlueJeanedLady) about menu planning and try to be vigilant (“UGH,” said she, again) about sticking to your menu plan for the upcoming week. Some people do menu planning monthly, but I just can’t go there at this point in time! If YOU can, GO FOR IT! This is a very tough one for me as I hate, hate, hate sticking to a menu plan when I don’t have to – – – mostly because I can be very impulsive about cooking “what I’m in the mood for” on any given day. I’m still on the learning curve with this one, so wish me continued occasions of willpower with a dash, or two, of good luck!
None-the-less, menu planning (which involves portion control that is healthy for all, by itself) does save so much money, i.e.; food, as well as a lot of meal prep time. I’ve learned that if I do take the time to browse through my pantry, check the fridge (especially the fresh produce & fresh dairy items needing to be used soon) and dive into the freezer for a ‘looksie’ for whatever else needs rotating before beginning my menu planning, I am forced to take appropriate note of anything that hasn’t been rotated recently and am better influenced to then incorporate the miscellaneous items into my upcoming menu plan. Still, she cries, “UGH!” as the struggle continues!
3. Contrary to popular belief, some things are not necessary cheaper / more convenient if bought in bulk. (HUH?) Beware – &/or – Be Aware! The only easy way to say this is with a real life (been there, made that mistake and could have bought the T-shirt had I saved my money from poorly planned purchases) example.
The example: We go through a lot of a) soy sauce and b) Worcestershire as we use both for last added condiments & early added ingredients in cooking. Even as we normally only use a few tablespoons, or less, per serving, it seemed I was always adding one or the other to my shopping list. Imagine my joy when our local wally world started selling each by the gallon! I got one of each!
BIG mistake! Although it was no big deal to keep funneling from the larger jug into a smaller bottle for kitchen convenience, we started noticing an ‘icky’ & later, an ‘ickier’ (but – thank goodness – not ill health inducing ‘sickly’) taste with each re-fill. YUCK-OLA!
NOTE: The moral of this oxygen infused story applies to many other condiments and dried herbs & spices as well: If you don’t use it often, even if you do use it regularly, you’ll save the flavor & more money in the long run with the smaller, individually well sealed, containers.
What we knew intellectually, but obviously failed to recall & apply practically, was that the flavor of both the soy sauce & the Worcestershire started deteriorating the moment we opened the sealed lid of the larger container. Even refrigerating the gallon container after opening didn’t help – – – the added oxygen slowly started diluting / destroying the original, great taste of the condiment concoctions! Ended up throwing out at least a half gallon of each! We then returned to the “regular sized” (12 to 16 or so ounces???) individually sealed bottles and now try to keep half a dozen of the sealed bottles on hand at all times – – – nothing goes to waste these days and I still have several months worth of much loved food condiments stored; ready, eager and able to please, as we choose to consume them.
ANOTHER NOTE: This oxygen contamination issue doesn’t seem to apply to white & cider vinegars and plain ‘ole yellow mustard (to mention a few items) that we also use frequently and now buy in the gallon sized containers. These particular items seem to stay perfectly fine sitting pretty on the pantry shelves. I continue to use the gallon jugs to re-fill the smaller jars of each for convenient kitchen use with no noticeable difference in flavor (nor any loss of effectiveness, as I also use the vinegars for medicinal and household cleaning purposes). Yippee!
4. Another way to keep some of the rotation moving with professional &/or home canned / jarred foods for just one or two people is to cook some recipes (lots of variables considering the recipes you choose to use for this scenario) in double, triple or quadruple batches – you’ll automatically use more product before its “use by” &/or labeled “expiration date” – and then you can vac-seal & freeze, &/or home can into pint or quart jar batches for future, quick & easy heat-up, portions.
I rarely make a homemade pot of soup or stew for just two and many times I also double entire (non-soup) meals so I can make up a couple of my own “TV / Frozen” meals for two, and reheat within the month. Just seems such a waste of time and stove-top / oven, heat / energy to make only one meal at a time as long as the natural gas or electric power is still flowing.
Yes, I understand that home canning is the preferred option for many whom can, & whom do can, routinely on a regular basis. And yes, I agree that freezer storage will be at risk if the power grid goes down or even a short term natural disaster (power lines temporarily down) occurs – – – but even if that happens tomorrow, one could probably get a day or two or three of use from deep freezer storage before things completely thaw and begin to spoil. JMHO, so continue eating at your own risk! 🙂
Are any of these “rotation control” ideas along the lines of what you were inquiring about, JenMar? Sure hope some of this might be helpful for you &/or someone else!
Ya’ll keep taking care and stay safe!