Nov 26, 2012
Avoiding Food Waste Through Freezing
1. Wasting the food God gives us is being a bad steward.
2. My husband and I work too hard to waste money on food that will just spoil.
3. There are many hungry people in the world. To allow food to go to waste shows callousness to their plight.
Now that I compost kitchen scraps - or feed them to the chickens - I feel less guilty when the celery at the back of my fridge goes bad. But I would much rather we actually eat the food we buy. There are two ways I make sure this doesn't happen:
1. I plan our meals and use up certain perishable items first. (To learn my simple method of meal planning, click here.) For example, if I buy squash, I know it won't last very long in the fridge, so I serve all the meals with squash in them within a few days of purchase. If I buy cabbage, I know it will last for months in the fridge, so the cabbage meals can wait until the more perishable food is eaten.
2. I freeze the food that's most likely to go bad in the fridge before we can use it.
For that second method to work, you just have to pay attention to what seems to go bad in your fridge. Often, it's produce. In my house, it's mostly fresh herbs, onions, and bell peppers. In your house it might be something entirely different.
Some people like to freeze these foods as soon as they get home from the grocery store. If you can do that, wonderful. I cannot; by the time we've finished shopping, my kids are tired, hungry, and cranky - and I'm usually pretty beat, too. Instead, I prefer to freeze food in spare moments a day or two after shopping.
I like to freeze meats first. They are expensive and seem to go bad faster than many other foods. I simply divide them up into appropriate servings, place them in Ziplock bags, and freeze. (Don't freeze in the plastic wrap you buy them in or the meat will suffer freezer burn.) If I'm really "with it," I'll brown hamburger before freezing it, to save time later.
Next, I work on herbs. I chop them and pour each type into one Ziplock bag. When it's time to cook with them, it's easy to just reach into the bag and grab what I need. If needed, I knock the bag on the side of the counter to break apart chunks.
Next comes other vegetables - in my house, mostly onions and sweet peppers. Again, all I do is chop them and put them in one bag. I've also successfully frozen carrots, green onions, and celery without doing anything special to them first. Just chop into the size you'll use for cooking and place in a bag.
Again, I want to stress that I rarely do all this freezing in one fell swoop. Instead, I do a little at a time when:
* I'm waiting for something to cook.
* my first grader is reading to me.
* I just happen to have a spare few minutes.
Be sure to mark the Ziplock bags with the contents and the date.
Freezing these most-likely-to-rot foods isn't difficult, doesn't have to take much time, saves you cooking time later, models good stewardship, and saves money.
What foods are most likely to rot in your fridge? If you need help knowing how to freeze them, just leave a comment below, and I'll be sure to answer your questions.