**Sorry for the late time stamp on this post. I am traveling internationally for the next few days, so my schedule is a little, well, nonexistent. Be patient and check back, because I've come too far to miss a post in this series.**
I mentioned that some of my staple pantry items are bought seasonally and stored. Sure, you can buy crushed tomatoes in a can, but fresh is always preferable. Fortunately, it is amazingly easy to store certain veggies without having to cook or blanch.
I've tried blanching and freezing some other types of vegetables with mixed success, but that is largely a matter of taste and how they will be used. We tend to stir fry a lot, and I prefer fresh vegetables for that. Fortunately, stir fry can be changed depending on what is in season, so I just skip anything that is out of season. But feel free to try your hand at freezing other types of vegetables. Many fruits can be stored in the freezer as well. For instance, if one of our bananas gets overripe, I just pop it into the freezer. When I've accumulated a few, I use them for banana bread. Once thawed they are the perfect texture for bread, without mashing. Berries can be frozen on baking sheets and then put into a freezer bag. I grab a few to put on oatmeal or enjoy in fresh smoothies year round.
Not sure what is in season in your area? The internet is full of resources to give you an idea of what to buy when. Pay attention at your local market or grocery: prices will dip for produce that is in season and go even lower for produce obtained locally. Not only is this strategy cost effective, it will give you a huge advantage when cooking home made: taste. You and yours will notice a difference immediately.
Trust me. I've been there.