Fill Your Freezer on the Homestead 5 Ways
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If there is a freezer on your homestead, you want it full! Enjoy a bounty of yums throughout the year by working these five ways to fill your freezer into your homesteading plans.
(Don’t want to read all the words? This blog post is also a podcast—just press the triangle play button on the little black bar at the top of this post!)
1. One of the most obvious ways to fill your freezer? Raise your own meat animals.
Probably a given when talking to many homesteaders, but one common way to fill your freezer on the homestead is to raise your own meat animals. Raising your own meat means you can be assured you’re eating humanely raised, healthful meat.
Need to hear someone’s experience raising certain animals for meat before you dive in?
Bonus! Fill your freezer more cheaply by butchering at home.
And hey, if you want to save money and be really self-reliant, you can butcher and process those animals yourself. It’s great because if you do your own butchering, you can divide and package the meat into the exact proportions that work for your own family.
2. Grow your own vegetables to help fill your freezer.
Another obvious answer for most homesteaders is to fill the freezer with amazing homegrown vegetables from your own homestead. Go ahead and fill up your garden space with vegetables you enjoy eating, that are also useful to you—there are so many different choices!
Here are some ideas of vegetables you can grow and freeze (some need to be blanched/cooked first):
You can certainly can your veggies—be sure you’re using the correct canning method for the vegetables you’re dealing with, as well as the right canning equipment—but freezing your veggies is also a completely acceptable option.
One of our favorite things to do is to grow tomatoes, and then use this clever freezer tip to pop your tomatoes in the freezer at the peak of busy harvest time so you can process them later. Awesome, right?
And psst! There are other foods to put in your freezer besides meat and vegetables! What about preserved herbs in compound butter? And what about these 9 foods that you might not have known you can freeze?
3. A successful hunt will help fill your freezer.
I grew up in a hunting family and then married into a hunting family. Hunting is a big part of life.
Whether you’re hunting for something as small as a rabbit or something as large as a bear, all of that respectfully harvested meat can help to fill your freezer. Which, where I come from, is really the only reason to hunt.
Not sure about hunting? Are you a beginner who doesn’t know where to start? It’s a great idea to find a mentor to show you the ropes. There is a lot to learn about safety, rules, hunting seasons, and equipment needed. I highly recommend adding hunting to your to-do list as a way to provide meat for your homestead. I’ll be writing more about this in the future!
If you need to know how to prepare a good meal after you take the wild game from the freezer, my friends at Happy Hills Homestead have some great rabbit recipes and goose recipes on their website—or you can check out my favorite wild game cookbook.
4. What else can fill your freezer? Roadkill.
While I did grow up in the country on 13 acres, the road we lived on was very busy and people drove fast. It was not uncommon for deer to be hit in front of our house, as well as many other animals. I remember the time we were sitting in the front yard and saw a pheasant get hit by a car.
What did we do?
Well, we picked up the bird, cleaned it, and cooked it for dinner.
Don’t get weirded out. I am not suggesting that you go scrape animals off the road that have been laying there for days.
Please. don’t. do. that.
But the fact of the matter is that since vehicles and animals co-exist, sometimes there are accidents. Sometimes you may be the one to hit the animal, or it might be someone else who has hit an animal and doesn’t want the meat.
Or, let’s be honest. Sometimes deer actually run into your car, not the other way around.
Ask me how I know.
We have been called many times (sometimes in the middle of the night) after someone local has hit a deer. It seems far more humane to have that meat go to use than having it lie on the side of the road, essentially wasted. So if someone hits a deer and has no need or desire to take the animal—yes, that can fill my freezer, thank you very much.
Let family, friends, and neighbors know that you’re willing to come take animals that have died after being struck by a car—after getting any required tags or permits. Just like with hunting, a tag is required to stay with the meat. Before anyone takes a deer that has been killed by a vehicle—regardless of who hit the deer—call your local law enforcement and ask for a car kill deer tag.
Depending on where you live, you may also be able to add your name to a list with your local law enforcement as someone to be called to take a deer that has been hit and killed.
So yes, I will proudly stand and say that roadkill is often found in our freezers. But using roadkill requires you to use some logic. Please, please, please be aware of the weather (meaning, temperature) as well as the condition of the meat. If anything is questionable, it’s much better to pass.
5. Bartering: help fill everyone’s freezer
Since we can’t all raise everything in our barns or grow everything in our gardens, bartering is another great way to not only help fill your freezer, but to add some variety to what’s already in there. Perhaps it’s a year that you’ve got way more turkey than you know what to do with (or will be able to use in a year). Which happens to be pretty cool, because maybe you’ve got a friend who has way more beef than they planned to have in the freezer. It’s time to swap!
If you have a neighbor who raises pheasants, but they’ve got a hankering for chicken? Arrange that you’ll swap out a few birds. It’s a great way to get an array of choices in your freezer without having to actually raise those specific animals.
A few years back, we had a lot of pork. We had a friend who had a lot of lamb. We arranged to do a swap, which gave us a much welcomed assortment of goodies in our freezer.
Maybe you had a super prolific year with your tomatoes and were able to make 20 extra pints of salsa. Maybe that’s the perfect thing to trade for home rendered lard for your freezer? Bartering with your garden produce is a great way to fill that freezer and pantry.
A few freezer tips:
- Check your freezers often. Several years ago one of the chest freezers in our garage went out on a hot summer day. We weren’t aware it wasn’t working until it was too late to save much of anything.
- A full freezer runs more efficiently than one that isn’t, and helps to retain frozen temperatures for longer if your power were to go out.
- Consider investing in a freezer alarm (to tell you there is an issue with your freezer) and a generator (to run things in the event of an extended power outage).
- Organize your freezers so you know what is in them. We use a check list. There is nothing worse than realizing that 5 pounds of bear meat got forgotten way in the bottom of the chest freezer and is now getting served to the dogs. Use this information to make a menu plan so you are eating from the storehouse of stuff that you already have!
Keep your freezers full and your bellies happy on the homestead. With these five ways to fill your freezer, you’ll never be left wondering what you’re going to eat or where it’s going to come from.
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