• Store bulk ingredients in airtight containers to keep bugs and moisture out (cut the costs by buying these at thrift stores and garage sales). Create cohesion with DIY chalkboard labels. Visit youtube.com and search "DIY chalkboard labels" for video tutorials.
• You can find a huge variety of recipes for refrigerator pickles in books and online (visit motherearthliving.com/quick-pickles for several options.) I like ones that allow for versatility in herbs, spices, and vinegars. I plan for my refrigerator pickles to last about three months, but recipes vary. Pleas take note of how and why refrigerator pickles must be stored differently than shelf-stabilized ones.
• Save freezer space by storing food stacked in freezer bags. You can find many types of reusable freezer bags online and in stores.
• I can't express enough how handy it is to have pureed butternut squash, sweet potatoes and pumpkin in the freezer. During the winter months, especially the holidays, these are the items I go through the quickest as I am constantly using them in pies, casseroles, soups and sweet breads. Not only are they convenient to have on hand, but they also save me a bundle by not needing to buy them in the store.
• You can preserve your garden herbs right along with other foods in one simple step by preseasoning storage items; instead of a blueberry jam, make it blueberry basil to preserve two items in one product; or add chopped thyme and rosemary to pureed squash or sweet potatoes for a more flavorful base and extra herb preservation.
Items to have on hand:
• Soups, stews and stocks
• A variety of chilies
• Sauces including marinara, salsa and all kinds of pesto
• Sweet breads, hearty muffins and crusty breads
• Jams, fruit butters and jellies
• Cooked beans and grains
• Diced, cooked meats
• Dried fruits