Food Storage: Dry goods and Freezer goods, all in one day!

I previously discussed, without pictures, the food storage situation at our house. I didn't have pictures then for a lot of reasons, one of which being that I've never been much of a shutter bug, as evidenced by the fact that I forget a lot of the "Before" pictures for some of these projects. Also, it's one thing to show the before pictures of a shed in disarray, most people with a shed are probably in the same boat. But I don't want to shame people publicly for being behind on major household projects, especially when there's no real "fault" to be thrown around. This is why we're here.

But! That won't stop me from bragging on all the awesomeness we've accomplished!

These shelves were just full, stacks had toppled over, things were stacked in front of other things so we had no idea what we had, and I'll just skate right on past the details of the mouse infestation issue which has been taken care of, thank goodness. Of course, that had an impact on the cleaning process and what we could keep, so we had to be very selective.

We also took this opportunity to donate some of the foods that are no longer suitable for the restricted diets Mum & Pops are on. Now, most of the foods we got rid of, I don't think should be considered food--for anyone. Every once in a while I catch myself looking through the grocery ad and skimming over things, not even recognizing them as food. I had a similar problem with the contents of these shelves.

But it digress. Whatever it was before, it's a hundred times better now. No furry creatures and their remnants, A LOT fewer boxes of Pasta-roni, donated (after cleaning the cans) a number of over-flow items that we could never use up in a reasonable amount of time, and lots of organization. I expect that as time goes on, we will have to do these kinds of reorganization projects--part of what I call "firebombing"--to get things back in place as we use and gain stuff. Still, that's to be expected.

Bonus, I now have 1/4 of this shelving system for my food, so I can have a bit of a stock of canned and dry goods.

Oh, speaking of dry goods! In the pantry, on the floor where no one but Mr. Moon could reach them, we had a giant stash of air-tight containers (Tupperware brand, mostly) storing dry goods. As part of this project, I put any doubles out into the garage, and got all but a couple of those containers onto shelves where they are reachable. Mr. Moon and I make a great team, as he can do the heavy lifting and I am awesome at 3-d Tetris where the blocks don't always match up. Even on a bad day, I can just point and direct where things can go, to get these kinds of projects done.
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While we worked on the canned/dry goods shelves, we were also dividing our efforts into defrosting the freezer. I don't know how many of you may have experience defrosting a freezer, but it's a PITA. AND MESSY.
Again, forgot the Before pic, so you get the Mid-Season update. That top shelf was so overgrown with ice that we had trouble getting stuff out--it measured 8 inches thick!

But I was a lady with a plan. I knew that I needed some way of getting the water to NOT drain onto the floor, but we didn't have a pan that would sit under the lip of the front bottom edge to catch the drips--at least not one that wouldn't have required constant emptying. Best bet was a wet-dry shop vac, but the one we have is buried and who even knows whether it works?

So I put a bunch of towels in a basket to absorb the drainage, and put one in the bottom of the fridge draped over the pile to wick the drips into the basket.

Believe it or not, it worked like a charm. There was a very small drip that caused a puddle underneath the basket, but we put a towel there and nothing got damaged at all. We did have to replace the entire system halfway through, but I had expected as much and planned ahead. When it was ready, we just ran it into the laundry room and tossed it right into the empty washer, spun out the liquid and waited for the next load before washing. The towel under the basket wasn't really even wet all the way through by the end!

After tossing an entire trash can full of unidentifiable freezer burn substance, and having the remaining contents filling three and a half coolers for the duration of the dripping and chipping of the ice, we got every scrap of ice off the shelves. Ten hours total project length, but I'm guessing only three of that was actual active time. Not a single saved food item was anything less than frozen solid, despite our fears. My towel plan worked beautifully, and we got the food shelves done at the same time, thereby maximizing efficiency while keeping an eye on the freezer progress.

And thusly, we now have room for me to make things like, a giant batch of chili, and freeze it for future meals. I can make a casserole and freeze it in serving sizes for "TV Dinners." When there are good quality meats on sale at the store, we can stock up and store them properly. (Plus I have a shelf to myself. :P)

I'm thinking it would be great to make a batch of mushroom-veggie soup, just add barley. I could stick a cup of barley and a frozen bag of soup in the crockpot, turn it on, and come back later to hot mushroom barley soup. Yum.

Two major projects in one day. So, so excited to live with the results!

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