Fall in Love with Your Freezer
CalRecycle is celebrating California Food Waste Prevention Week to raise public awareness about the economic, environmental, and social impacts of unused food.
One great way to divert food from the waste stream is to save it for later. Consider your freezer. Make a double batch of sauces, stews, beans, and casseroles, and save the rest in the freezer for a future weeknight dinner with zero cooking.
My freezer is one of my most-used kitchen appliances. One of my favorite food waste strategies is what we call in my house “the Scrap Bag.” The Scrap Bag lives in my freezer and is full of, you guessed it—food scraps! Any time I peel a carrot, slice an onion, or cut the edges off a bell pepper, the leftover scraps are diverted from the garbage and go into the Scrap Bag. I put any kind of vegetable scraps or chicken bones (depending if you’re vegetarian/vegan) in the Scrap Bag and keep it in the freezer. Once the Scrap Bag is full, I empty the contents into a large stock pot, fill it with water and simmer over low heat for about an hour. Once the time is up, I simply strain the contents through a colander in the sink and save the liquid. The leftover vegetable scraps go into the compost and now I have stock—tasty stock that was free to make and that gave my food scraps a second life! The stock can be saved in the freezer and used to make soups and sauces. I also like to cook my rice, beans, or quinoa in it to add extra flavor.
Here are some of the other ways I utilize my freezer to prevent food waste:
- I’m not a big sandwich eater, but I enjoy sliced bread now and again. I keep the bread in the freezer and defrost a slice or two when I get a craving.
- Beans freeze beautifully. Dried beans are cheap! I cook a double batch in my crock pot and freeze half to store in the freezer for an easy meal.
- Soups hold up well when they’re stored in containers in the freezer. I like to freeze small individual servings for a quick meal on demand.
- I buy meat in bulk, divide it into single portions and defrost as I need them. I find meats are often cheaper to buy in bulk and are often sold with less packaging.
- Fruits like berries are simple to freeze. Simply place them on a cookie sheet, freeze them overnight, and transfer them to an empty container to store in the freezer. I love having frozen berries on hand for smoothies in the morning.
- Butter freezes well and is easy to defrost when I get the baking itch. It’s often cheaper to buy in bulk.
I hope these tips are as useful to you. To learn more about preventing food waste, please visit Save The Food. Interested in other ways to reduce food waste? Check out the Public Health Alliance of Southern California’s Resource Library and CalRecycle’s Resource Directory.