R and I have been spending a lot of our free time preparing to feed ourselves in the coming months. And yes, I do know that grocery stores are open all year long. In an attempt to stay as local as possible and get the highest nutrition content available, we are buying excess food at the farmer's markets and getting it ready to eat in the months ahead.
The primary weapon in our arsenal is a vacuum sealer. We clean, chop, and blanch vegetables and then seal portions and freeze them. We have the whole process down and together can now quickly get through several batches of veggies in a couple of hours. I am happily chortling to myself about how easy it will be to cook with these vegetables this winter; all I will have to do is thaw them out and dump them into whatever recipe I'm preparing. We also have vacuum seal steamer bags that work just like the expensive bags you get in the freezer section at your local grocery store. We'll be able to pop these straight into the microwave and have delicious, farmer's market veggies in January! I'm totally geeking out about it. Note: vacuum sealers and bags can be bought at many major retailors. We get our vacuum sealer bags from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
We are not winter food prep virgins. We found ourselves in the metaphorical back seat several summers ago with some tasty green beans. We are really going all out this year and have increased both quantity and diversity (I'll forgo a metaphorical representation of that one!).
As I've mentioned before, we are hoping to get pregnant in the next few months - me with the pregnant, him with the helping. Anyway, in true geek-tastic fashion, we want to make sure that I reduce pesticides from my diet as much as possible during and directly before the first trimester. Thus, the squirrel-like hoarding of food.
With fruit, we primarily use the dehydrator. Though we have frozen some berries and pie filling. Mmmm, rhubarb strawberry pie in February. I can already imagine it: me, inside slowly savoring the zingy flavor, staring out the window at the snow covered wonderland. Extra delicious.
Two books should be credited with amping up our commitment to supporting and eating local: The Omnivore's Dilemma and Plenty*. And, of course, our soul-sucking hippie** liberal commitment to our local economy and sticking-it-to-the-man avoidance of corporations. Gah! What's the world coming to?
*If you haven't yet, read these books. Reeeeeaaaaaadddd them.
**I still take showers. I love showers. I swear on all that is science.
Anyway, though it is a major time sink right now, and we spend all this time prepping food to only end up with nothing to eat for a meal that day, it has been a lot of fun. We both enjoy the farmer's markets immensely. We spend a lot of time working toward a shared goal. And it's a great way to constructively spend time together.
Just to amp up our geekiness, we are planning on taking an inventory of our food supply. We will also be making a way to track our inventory so we know what we have left once we start getting into the freezer this winter. Ahh, our geeky love will flourish in the light of our well organized food preparatory skills.