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Thread: Lessons learned from storing foods

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    Exclamation Lessons learned from storing foods

    In Mirkwood's blog, he has a picture of shelves of foods. Among these are top ramen, canned chili (I think it is chili) and Hormel Completes. Some time ago I bought one each of the available flavors of the completes. Loved the beef stew - always have liked it in the cans, all sizes of cans. Didn't like the other beef one. Then I ended up shoving all of the boxed goods into the *den* cause I was feeding the neighbors the TurDucken that BIL shipped to us. So the completes were in a box and totally out of mind.

    Flash forward a couple of years, the stores are really pushing these completes. Lots of coupons out there for $1.00 to $3.00 off of 1 to 3 Completes. So, I buy one of each flavor. Even the breakfast ones. Here is my report: Breakfast ones are N A S T Y. Pure & simple N A S T Y. Husband will eat pretty much anything - even he passed on those. The Chix 'N Dumplings, Chix 'N noodles, Chix Alfredo are all okay. Need a bit of salt and pepper. The beef stew is still good. Then there is the Cheesy, Bacon Noodles. BLEH, N A S T Y. Honestly it tastes like furniture lacquer.

    I have stocked up on the envelopes of Rice Sides, Noodle Sides (I know this is not their names, but it is what they are). Really love the Alfredo Noodles. BUT the entire envelope is 2X more than I can eat, and hubby won't eat them anymore. Pasta & Rice are bad for him he thinks. BAH Humbug, he is nuts.

    I was buying 6-8 oz. jars of alfredo sauces at the Dollar Tree for a $1.00 - and adding that to pasta. Still it was a bit more than I can eat. BUT these Completes are just the right size. Add two handfuls of frozen veggies to a nukable dish, two slices of whole wheat bread with real butter on them and I am in heaven.

    I really like Nalley's Chili. Original, Thick and the one with Onions. Discovered that Hubby likes it on top of an all beef hot dog-n-bun (or slice of whole wheat bread) with extra raw onions and two handfuls of grated cheese.

    Then there are the Rosarita's Refried Beans. Any flavor. We have tried other brands and they all give Hubby horrible gas pains. I like to make *Cheater* Tacos. Use real hamburger or the dehydrated beef substitute, along with freeze dried/dehydrated onions, bell peppers, celery bits. Taco seasoning and your favorite taco/tortilla chips. Or flour tortilla's. When I was a wee child, Mom made potato/flour lefse. Only difference from flour tortilla is the potato added to it.

    So, what foods do you have in storage that you eat all the time. What foods do you no longer store for long term because they have a short shelf life? Me, it is Mayo and Miracle Whip. Even if the Mayo is $2.58 a bottle, if there is one in the cupboard, not buying any more. I quit buying cheese whiz in the jars (store brand too). It just doesn't taste good anymore. Hubby and I think it tastes like there is furniture polish in it. BUT the box w/3 packets of Velveeta cheese (the same envelopes of cheese that is in their Shells & Cheese box, are just the right size to use on vegetables or to make Mac N Cheese.

    Top Ramen - I vacuum seal them now. I do stop the vacuum before it goes the whole way so I don't end up with noodle dust when I open them up to use. I did take some of them out of the cello wrap, added some FD/Dehydrated veggies, extra flavoring (chix or beef) then sealed them up again. Hubby really doesn't like them, but for a quick lunch add a beef hot dog cut up, and in a separate pot boil a couple of eggs. To the shrimp flavored ones I added more vegetable broth flavoring. I always have frozen, cooked, peeled shrimp in the freezer.
    "Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -Robert A. Heinlein

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    Last month we chose to use the bulk of our food budget to pay for a handyman to fix the kitchen. So that means that I am only buying fresh salads (Ready Pac Bistro Santa Fe style). The rest of the food is what is sitting in the freezer[pork shoulder roast, pork loin roast, buy one get two free seasoned pork loin chops, chix breasts, chix hind quarters, 93% fat free hamburger.] Plus what is in long & short term storage. Oh and the Christmas 2015 Turducken, all 22 pounds of it.If you like Cajun seasonings and gooey corn meal mush that is force injected between the chicken & duck, and duck and turkey, then eat it. Personally I hate it. To the point where I will cook it for Hubby and the people he invites over, but I eat an all beef hot dog with the mashed potatoes & veggies.

    That is where I discovered that the jar of cheese whiz, alfredo sauce and the 4 packs of 6 yr old top ramen were bad. I am clearing out the boxes from the Den and discovered the Hormel Completes. All 12 of them. There must be 12 bankers boxes that are 3/4 to 1/3 full of JUNK. The 3/4 full one is of various electronic cords. Like cords to obsolete and long gone computers. Don't fit any of the computers we have or will ever get. There are power cords that I have no notion what they are to power up. Then there are about 6 extension cords that have been cut up with female ends added. Oh and the small boxes and boxes of the large floppy's and the smaller floppy's. Those are jammed in the drawers of his HUGE desk. HUGE- Like it takes 4 healthy, strong men to move this thing when it is EMPTY. Is there anyone who would even buy these things???

    So I am finding creative meals to use the FD/Dehydrated, vacuum sealed foods in my storage.
    "Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -Robert A. Heinlein

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    Recently I have been adding the liquid from canned corn to the instant mashed potatoes. The potatoes end up tasting a bit like corn, but both Hubby and I mix the corn into our mashed potatoes bite, by bite. The other night I added the liquid from canned green beans into the instant mashed potatoes. We were having pork steaks, thick cut, so we had gravy too (just can't waste the fat drippings). Those potatoes really tasted good. I'm not brave enough to serve up instant mashed potatoes with canned beet juice added!! BUT I do have two more cans of carrots slices. Think I will not only add the juice from them, but also the carrots after I whip them up with my hand blender,
    "Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -Robert A. Heinlein

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    We bought a bunch of the breakfast Compleats. Nasty.

    I like the Chicken Alfredo and Meatloaf the best. Swedish Meatballs were good too. The rest were okay. I buy a few here and there as pantry food, not long term.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mirkwood View Post
    We bought a bunch of the breakfast Compleats. Nasty.

    I like the Chicken Alfredo and Meatloaf the best. Swedish Meatballs were good too. The rest were okay. I buy a few here and there as pantry food, not long term.
    The dog next door won't eat the breakfast completes either! She thought she was getting a great treat, sat up and rolled over (this is an obese bull dog), she snorted up a bite full and promptly spit it out. Lord Love A Duck, the look on her face had me in stitches. Now when I am outside the same time she is, she snorts and turns her back on me.

    Wait, there is a meatloaf one?? Tried the meatball sandwich one. Hubby wants way more sauce on it. The sloppy joe was okay. Love Alfredo sauce on nearly anything. Just wish it came in smaller jars for not twice/thrice the price. Hubby isn't fond of it, so one jar is like 4 servings for me. I have been buying spaghetti sauce in the jar when it is on sale. The only one that is watery and bland is Safeway/Safeway Select brand. Ragu, Rinaldi, Prego, Bertolli, Kroger. They are all pretty good. I won't buy Hunts anything. Way too much sugar, high fructose, etc. added. But now Hubby says that the others are too thin. It looks okay until he cuts (ahem, mashes is what it amounts too) the noodles all up and then ...QUOTE... The sauce all disappears...END QUOTE.

    Well when he said, see take a look, everything was gone. Sauce, meat, extra celery/onions/mushrooms, noodles. I thought he was saying in a round about way that he really liked it and made it all disappear. BUT no, he really meant that the sauce disappeared. There was at least two quarts of leftover sauce, so I bought a large can (303) of tomato puree, added it plus a boat load of spices. Still it disappeared. SIGH ~ will just have to serve him disappearing spaghetti sauce I guess. Unless he wants tomato mud flavored like spaghetti sauce. BLEH

    Looks like you like Western Family brand. Us too ~ when it is available. JC Thriftway Market is the only store to carry WF now. I don't like WF Peanut Butter. To us it tastes like 8 parts lard to 1/2 part peanut butter. Okay to use in cookie/cake receipts as a substitute for the shortening. When it comes to canned vegetables: Kroger, S&W, Santiam are the only brands I'll get.

    Bought a #10 can of peas - either FD or dehydrated. Haven't even opened them up. Did the carrot dices. Those you have to cook to hydrate it! Got FD Asparagus. Woody & tough. I ended up dry blending it into powder and now add it to soup, stew, gravy and even added it to whole wheat home made soft bread sticks that I made with olive oil and savory herbs.

    Is the WF Beef Stew as good as the Dinty Moore?
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    Is the WF Beef Stew as good as the Dinty Moore?

    I mixed lots of stuff into them so I have no idea.
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    We have been slowly switching out our canned long term items to dehydrated. With all our kids out of the house, we no longer go thru canned goods like we used too. Seems like we are throwing away more canned goods then we need to. I think we are planing on having 2-3 months of canned goods and the rest all in dehydrated.
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    Three years ago I bought V-8 juice in the 1/2 gallon plastic bottles. Opened one today for hubby. We have run through the 11.5 oz cans and he still has his hankering for it. It was beyond GROSS. Okay, that was a waste, three jugs down the drain! I like to add V-8 juice to the soup I make for him. Rather than use 6 quarts of vegetable or chix stock, I want to use the 1/2 gal of V-8 and the rest chix stock. Been WAY TOO long since I made his favorite soup. Well it is now one month into fall so time to sprout the seeds and grain that I put into his Mexican Tomato Chicken soup. It never called for anything other than garlic and tomatoes - -fresh too. I used canned tomatoes and the minced, in water that stores in the fridge. I also add celery, onions, lentils, and any beans (dry) that sound good to hubby at the time. The lentils & dry beans I only soak for 48 hours.

    I missed buying the organic frozen vegetables that were on sale. If you open them up and place only one bag at a time in a salad spinner while adding hot tap water while you spin. This will thaw the vegetable, and spinning it after will dry it. Then put one bag worth on a tray and dehydrate. Hubby and I eat 1/2 bag per meal. So I seal one half tray in my vacuum sealer. Commercially frozen vegetables are already blanched so you don't have to do that wet, labor intensive part. I used to keep them in empty #10 cans - but after filling up two double door DIY cupboards and discovering that only 8 cans can fit on a shelf - - IF I place the shelves far enough apart. BUT the Dollar Store sells clear square plastic containers that will hold a little more than a quart. In the same space as the 8 cans, I can get 3 across, 3 deep, 3 high. They are clear, so it is easy to see what is in them, and dehydrated vegetables are so pretty, like gems. The Fred Meyer Produce section is now selling *Ugly* vegetables for a greatly discounted price. So I am back to dehydrating them. Bell peppers are so dang pretty. These I put into sectioned off strips of bags. 1/8th cup dried per section. Seal three or four rows, then turn and vacuum seal. When I need some, I just cut off a section. Oh and I don't dice the peppers, etc. I strip or chop them because they fall through the trays.

    The other day I noticed that the canned peas are one year past their Best By\Sell By\ Use By date, so I emptied them saving the liquid. Dried them off in the salad spinner and dehydrated them. The liquid I put in ice cube trays and froze. Once frozen, vacuumed sealed and tossed back into the freezer. Will use them in gravy, canned soup (one to two cubes per can of RTE soup), etc. This is NOT good in mashed potatoes. Though the dog next door likes it. She is not my "Monkey" to care for - so won't be making any more just for her.

    Mmmm, wonder if I can home dehydrate the smaller cans of Nalley's Chili?? The only way to know is to do one can. ---Nope, there is too much liquid.
    "Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -Robert A. Heinlein

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    At one time, in one of the many forums I am on I wrote about buying and using only Velveeta Shells & Cheese. Less water, zero milk & butter to turn into palatable food. Then some of my boxes went past the one year mark. When I opened the foil pouch of cheese it was N A S T Y. The 8 boxes all had bad cheese. Salvaged the pasta shells. So- I bought a jar of Cheese Whiz. 1/2 a jar worked for dinner. Hubby & I really like Mac & Cheese, so fixed more for lunch the next day.

    For a bit I was buying 4 jars at a time of Great Value knock off of Cheese Whiz. 6 months past the Best Buy date and the stuff turned N A S T Y. So I bought less at a time, used it up within 6 months of it's BB date. THEN the smell of it cooking was more than either of us could stomach.

    Ragu started making a cheddar sauce that works great for mac & cheese. AND then Velveeta came out with a box of three cheese sauce pouches. Again, don't go longer than 6 months past the BB Date. One box costs the same as a jar of Cheese Whiz.

    Since my last trip to the hospital for Acute Pancreatitis I was put on a LOW fat diet. 10 grams of fat per meal. In short, no more butter, cheese, milk, cream, cheesy sauces, most pork, all lamb, burgers and fatty beef, etc. Hubby eats the Mac-N-Cheese, hot dogs, etc. So, our food storage has changed too.

    As a diabetic I can adjust my insulin according for the amount of pasta, sugar aka carbs I eat. But there is no adjusting insulin for fat.

    NOTE: If you are going to boil up some pasta and are going to have canned vegetables that will be nuked; empty the liquid into the pan you will be cooking your pasta in. You don't need 6 quarts of water to cook up enough pasta for 2-3 people. 3 quarts of liquid is plenty. Add water to the liquid from your can of vegetables, and cook the pasta. I finally did the beet juice added to the water in a 3 qt pan. Did spaghetti noodles, made spaghetti sauce sans the hamburger. Guess what? Hubby didn't complain about the sauce disappearing into the noodles. Yeah it was beet colored, but he didn't seem to mind. Just asked if I was 'Spearmenten' on him again?
    "Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -Robert A. Heinlein

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    I am not the only one NOT buying case lots of canned foods the last two years. Ever since I moved here originally in 1978. the stores have had case good lots the last week of October to Thanksgiving week. The first three weeks of October they handed out order forms. I almost always ordered around $250.00 worth. Vegetables, mushrooms, soups, etc. Then the last four years it has just been one store doing this, on a pre-order basis. I still have canned tomatoes, beets, pickled beets left from three years ago. The last hold out store quit this year.

    The kitchen cut string beans are long gone and been replaced often with on sale cans. Neither of us likes the frozen string beans. They are just too squeeky on the teeth when you chew them. One of these days, the frozen kitchen cut style will be on a fantastic sale and I will buy a *boat* load, thaw them and then dehydrate them. THEN they will get vacuum sealed and become long term storage.

    We canned soup eaters. In AZ it was Fred Meyer/Kroger brand soups. Hubby would only eat the Tomato w/Basil or Split Pea. I like pretty much all of the flavors. Then we moved back to Oregon and the Fred Meyer store here doesn't carry their own brand. So I got Hubby Progresso Tomato w/Basil, Hearty Tomato. He just doesn't like the chunks of tomato in the soup. Well I bought 24 cans - so I use my hand blender to puree the Hearty Tomato soup BEFORE I nuke it. I like the chunky tomato soup.

    Just recently got WellYes by Campbell's. Chix and Noodles is good. Tomato Bisque is bland. Couldn't get enough salt in it, so tried crystallized lemon - that did it. The others are okay. Don't know if I will pay full price yet, (got digital coupons PLUS they had them on sale) but Fred Meyer's is the only store carrying more than Chix -n- Noodles and Tomato Bisque.
    I tried packaging up quick oats w/brown sugar for Hubby size servings. Where I went wrong was using sandwich bags. Should have vacuum sealed them. At least I only did a small container of quick oats. Hubby goes through phases of eating one item more than any other. For the last 6 months it has been Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls. NO bacon, he hates the bacon ones. Before that it was Jimmy Dean Breakfast Biscuits or Muffins. YUCK! To me those are the n a s t i e s t things ever invented. So the instant oatmeal has been set aside for now. I bought 24 boxes of them. Wonder how long they will store for??

    I like them. They are a bit high in the carbs, but I adjust my insulin. At least they are low fat. Especially when you don't put milk on them. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I'd eat cooked oatmeal sans milk. But I ran out of milk one morning and already had cooked my oatmeal. Taught to NEVER, EVER toss out good food, I went ahead and ate it. It was good. Eating it without a side of well buttered toast, now that is still hard to do. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be drinking 1% milk - me who was raised on fresh milk, then whole milk, and of course Heavy Cream for cereals, fruit, cobblers.
    "Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -Robert A. Heinlein

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    Default BUMP up to 2019

    For nearly a year now I have been struggling with trying to stand in the kitchen long enough to prepare - cook - and serve meals. It took me having a crying meltdown in front of my new Endocrinologist about 5 months ago for *us* to come up with a solution - of sorts.

    My screaming, piercing with icy hot/electrical like pains in my feet to my knees and my fingers from the second knuckle down to the tips with the same pain is caused mostly by my glucose numbers being too high. When I hurt, I have NO appetite. I know I should eat a minimum of two full meals a day, but other than eating two or three breakfast type bars - injecting accordingly and drinking an 11 oz can of V8 juice for my first meal - I just don't want to eat.

    So in 6 months, I lost 10.4 pounds. My sugars have been all over the chart. I either sleep all the time (no pain) or I am awake all the time (am hurting like crazy).

    My Diabetic Counselor Nurse gave me a new insulin chart for when my numbers are high because I hurt and am NOT going to eat a meal. I test my sugars, check the chart and then inject my fast acting insulin. So if my numbers are 199, the chart says to inject 10 units of insulin IF eating a meal. I would double that to get the pain to subside.

    This last two weeks I have been feeling much better for short bursts of time. I have hired a cook who will come twice a week to cook big meals for us. She is also my housekeeper. One day a week she will spend 4 hours vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, putting clothes away, etc.

    It took a month to find a cook, in that month I slowly and surely inventoried/cleaned out my food cupboards and the kitchen freezer.

    Learned that Bear Creek Instant Chicken Noodle Soup with Best By date of 2009 is
    nasty when rehydrated and cooked. Idahoan Loaded Baked Potatoes with Use By date of 2013 is also nasty when cooked. Knorr Pasta Sides Alfredo Noodles with Best By date of 2003, 2012, 2015 are - - - - drum roll - - - nasty, nasty, nasty. I even had some Kroger brand Mushroom Rice Side - couldn't find a Best By/Use By date so I tossed the three of them.

    Tossed the 12 Ramen packages. The packaging felt sticky and sounded extra crinkly. Husband detests them anyway and I can no longer eat them - super high in carbs.

    I tossed the 3 to 6 cans of Peas, carrots and mixed vegetables. No dates on them, didn't want to take a chance.

    Then yesterday, after we ate our brunch I inventoried the kitchen freezer. Emptied the Rubbermaid containers of food I couldn't identify. Tossed the zip bags of hamburger, salmon roasts, and a few other types of meat I couldn't identify. One half of a 2-pound bag of cooked, shelled, tail on med. shrimp that was so severely freezer burned they all were completely white.

    We still have enough bone-in pork chops, two pork steaks, and about 1.5 pounds of cubed pork loin for a pork stew. One bone-in Rib Eye Steak (that is for Hubby) and four 4 ounce Salmon Fillets that are manufactured fast frozen & super vacuum sealed. Oh, and 6 Rubbermaid containers holding 8 oz of meatloaf patties that I mixed up only 2 weeks ago, and a Rubbermaid container of 96% ground beef weighing 1 pound that remarkably is NOT freezer burned.

    Hubby wants me to transfer his Frozens (Banquet Pot Pies, Safeway Select Breakfast Muffins, Healthy Choice Rice Steamers, etc.) from the small freezer in the laundry room and put them in the kitchen freezer where it will be more convenient for him. Problem is, the small freezer is in desperate need of defrosting. I want it moved outside on the porch so I don't have to keep mopping up the melted ice. Being outside I can just tip it and toss the frozen chunks into the yard. It is on a 36" high stand right now - needed to raise it up so Hubby & I could have easier access. It weighs a lot - more than what hubby and I can handle together. The upright freezer needs defrosting too, but I can 'walk' it empty of food out to the porch.

    Only have the small storage cupboard in the dining room and the large one in the master bedroom left to inventory. The majority of the food in the large cupboard is in #10 cans. Some can be left alone - salt, navy beans, etc. Others really need to be re-packaged in vacuum sealed packages. There are a few #10 cans of powdered butter, powdered whole eggs, powdered scrambled eggs. Those need to be opened and re-packaged in vacuum sealed packages.

    The lesson learned is Keep better watch on the Best By/Use By dates. Rotate all of the food. Don't care how tired I am, leave the putting away until I am not tired and hurting and Rotate!

    It is time for me to hit the Dollar Tree store looking for small clip boards. Each cupboard and the hall *linen* closet need one, to write down the last item taken/ running low on XX items. There is plenty of space between the surface of the door and the inside shelves for a small clipboard to be hung.

    Hope this newfound energy, desire & ideas to organize carries on to getting my "office" area cleaned-tidied-junk tossed before the middle of July.
    "Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -Robert A. Heinlein

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    Wow, you have been busy!

    I'm glad a solution to your pain was found.
    Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ;
    Moroni 7:48

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