The Secret Food Waste Solution: Your Freezer
Food Waste. Anyone who lives in the USA or Western World for that matter experiences this on a regular basis. Americans alone waste 20 pounds of food a MONTH. That’s a $165 billion each year (USDA). Wrap your head around that for a second.
So how do we mitigate this problem? Well there is the obvious solution to eat less, but we Americans sure love to stuff our faces so I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
A more realistic solution to that problem is using your freezer to preserve your food. In our house, we receive more produce than we can usually eat in one week from Friends and Farms. I like to freeze the extra produce. For example, with the excess Kale, Chard, and/or Spinach I receive, you can just wash the leafy greens, run it through your salad spinner and put it in a Ziplock Bag. You can then re-use that for shakes like I do or you can use it during the week for a quick veggie side.
The same applies to any vegetable really, I like to do the same thing with sweet potatoes, green beans, potatoes, and onions. By doing this you can speed up your meal time dramatically. If you want some quick roasted sweet potatoes for your dinner, rather than having to go wash some sweet potatoes and then peel them, you can just pop open your freezer and pull out your frozen sweet potatoes.
You can do the same thing with all sorts of fruit, especially fruit that is only in season for a short period of time. I like to order extra strawberries from Friends and Farms so I can freeze them and have enough for a few months.
That covers produce, but what about meat and left overs?
I like to freeze all of my meat unless I am planning on using it that week. This keeps your meat fresh and prevents it from spoiling (preventing waste). You can do the same thing with meat you have cooked as well. If you don’t think you will get to the chicken, steak, or fish you made in the first 4 or 5 days after you’ve made it. Freeze it. It will then keep for at least up to a month or two. Anything after that is probably playing with fire, but if you do wait longer, you won’t get sick. It just wont taste that great.
Now leftovers, the main source of food waste. I freeze almost all of my leftovers. If you make a huge vat of sauce because you got a little over zealous. Don’t worry, just portion it out into some freezer bags. If you want them to freeze nicely, you can pour the sauce into the bags. Then lay them flat on a cookie sheet and put the entire cookie sheet in your freezer and freeze them until they are solid. Then you can close them up and you have a more organized leftover.
One of my favorites is to make my own frozen meals for my work week. Often times there will be weeks where I won’t have anytime to pre-make my lunches. So a nice trick is to freeze a meal (or a sauce) into a single serving size. Then all you have to do is pop it in the microwave at work (using a glass dish) and you can have a fresh tasting meal. This works great for pasta sauce, stews, soups, or basically anything. This will save you having to go out for fast food for lunch.
Using your freezer like this well enable you to be more creative in the kitchen and will prevent you having to go to the grocery store for something.