Another #WasteFreeWednesday, another round of tips for preventing food waste at home. Save money and save the planet by keeping all the foods you buy fresh and appetizing until you’re ready to eat them. Today I’m going to focus on tips for making good use of that freezer section of your fridge.
1. Label Fridge & Freezer Items
I’m pretty lazy about this, but when I do manage to label those half-full jars of pasta sauce, hummus, broth or leftovers with dates, it makes it much easier to remember to use it up in time. As I mentioned before, having a weekly schedule so that I know that the beans were made last Monday, the soup on Weds, etc. also helps a lot.
Labeling items in the freezer is even more important. I’m as guilty as anyone of sometimes being unable to identify something, which is not always the path to making something appetizing. I’ve eaten my share of delicious mystery soups, but I like it better when I know what I’m getting, AND how old it is. Mailing labels or even those address labels that charities send you are nice for sticking a little label on something and scribbling “Chili 6/16” or whatever on there.
2. Freeze half up front
It was a new routine to get used to, but I also started automatically freezing half of each jar of pasta sauce and freezing portions of broth and soup whenever I make it. A reader recommended doing this for tomato paste and herbs every time, too. This is a great idea, because it’s better to freeze things before they sit in the fridge too long instead of after. I have this herb push-pop kind of thing I will feature in another post – it is brilliant. But generally, you can freeze any kind of fruits, some veggies, herbs, baked goods, appetizers or other foods by laying them out on a cookie sheet in the freezer and then gathering them into a container when they’re frozen solid. Use parchment paper if you’re concerned about them sticking to the cookie sheet. Save money by buying or harvesting peppers when they’re in season and freezing them in strips, or chop up the rest of a partially-used onion to freeze instead of tossing it back in the fridge.
You can also use ice cube trays to freeze liquids in 2-tbsp. portions – great for baby foods such as fruit & veggie purees! You can keep them in the trays or gather the cubes into a container after they’re frozen. This is one way to deal with tomato paste or other things that you usually just want a small portion of. I’ve also put chopped herbs with a little water into ice cube trays, but now I love the push-pop much better.
3. Make Smart Container Choices for your Freezer
A lot of blogs seem to recommend plastic baggies, but I think bags are horribly messy in the freezer, not to mention being pretty hard to reuse. (And aren’t those pictures of prepped crockpot meals in zipper bags gross?) Unfortunately, I have not had much luck with glass mason jars in the fridge. Even if you are careful not to overfill them, they sometimes break. Besides the breakage issue, there’s also the problem of frozen stuff not coming out of glass quite as easily as plastic. So you could use old yogurt tubs, but don’t forget to label! Or get some quality Tupperware…
Here’s my defense of Tupperware. I’m talking about Tupperware brand Tupperware, not that cheap stuff you buy at the grocery store or dollar store. That stuff might also have merits (Mavis over at the amazing onehundreddollarsamonth.com likes it enough to partner with the company), but I go for the real deal, and here’s why. By the way, this is not a sponsored post, and I will not earn anything from telling you my opinion here. I did sell Tupperware for a short time. For me and most other people, that actually means buying and also accruing lots of free Tupperware more than selling all that much. But I haven’t been affiliated with the company for years. It was awful asking friends and family to buy plastic, but most people who did buy some, however grudgingly, have confessed to me years later that they use it all the time and love it.
So don’t roll your eyes (or guffaw?) the next time someone invites you to a Tupperware party. There’s a reason the company has been around since 1946 — our hyper-consumption culture is only part of the story. When it comes to preventing food waste, this stuff has an important role to play.