Hi ya, friends! Happy Tuesday it is! As a person who lives alone, I find more and more how difficult it is to use up all of my groceries at the end of the week (especially if there is a spontaneous Indian food run. Hello!). And y’all, this is not just a problem I have! About 40 percent of the food produced in the United States each year is never eaten, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). That means the water, fuel and labor that went into growing that food is also wasted. This staggering amount of waste equates to about $162 billion lost every year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. I was determined this year to do my part to eliminate food waste. The trouble was I did not know where to start!
And that is where our friend, the freezer, comes into play!
The freezer gets such a bad rap, especially because of the processed foods lurking in your grocery store’s freezer. However, I have found the freezer is your best tool to eliminate food waste. As long as you safely package your freezer food, it should last a long time. Plus, it is so nice to always have fresh and cooked food ready to go. These are some of my favorite things to freeze and get the most outta your dolla dolla bills.
1) Seasonal fruit
However, there is something definitely mesmerizing about eating fruit that you have bought during the season, froze, and then reaching for that same bag in the dead of winter. Just this summer, I have frozen peaches, cherries, and blueberries. I love to eat them blended in a smoothie, warmed on top of oatmeal, or tucked into a crisp.
Recommended recipe: Peach, Blueberry, and Basil Crisp
I have friends who would complain all the time that they would buy a loaf of bread at the farmer’s market, but it would go moldy before they were able to finish it all. That is where the freezer can help you out. If you have a solid loaf, make sure you slice it before sticking it in the freezer. That way, you can break off slices to toast or make sandwiches using the frozen bread. It will keep your fillings nice and cold and defrost by lunchtime! You can also freeze pita, tortillas, and naan, then toast in the oven or on the stove top for tacos and pita chips anytime!’
Recommended Recipe: Homemade Avocado Bean-LT
3) Leftover Cooked Grains and Beans
As a single person, I always find that making grains and beans in big batches turns out a more delicious and tender bean or grain. Also, I am of the mindset that thinks, well, it is just as much work to cook a cup of rice as to make two so, why not make two! I have also found that, unfortunately, it results in a lot of beans and grains for a single person (and trust me, I eat a lot of that carb-y goodness!). However, you can freeze leftover beans and grains to use in soups, salads, and stir fries later on! For grains, simply freeze them in ½ cup or 1 cup portions in plastic bags. For beans, freeze them in their cooking liquid in glass reusable containers or plastic bags. If using plastic bags, freeze flat and stack of optimal use of space
Recommended Recipe: Savory Grain Breakfast Bowl
If you have bought a bunch of herbs that is starting to go south, there is a way you can salvage the herb-y goodness! Simply puree the herbs with olive oil until well blended. Pour mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. Add the ice cubes to sauces, soups, or stir fries for an herby punch!
Recommended Recipe: Spicy Red Pasta with Lentils
I always found it so annoying that many recipes online make enough food for four people. I then get stuck eating the same thing for four days straight, which, no matter how I doctor or change it up, still tastes the same. Like leftovers. The freezer has this magical power it seems to make old leftovers taste new again. If I do not have time to cook, I can just pop out one of my Tupperware of leftovers, reheat it, and have my own TV dinner! The leftovers I find freeze best are stews, chilis, baked pastas, and curries.
Recommended Recipe: Coconut Beans and Greens with Sriracha Cashews
6) Fresh Corn
This is always on my go to freezer checklist for summer. It is so easy to freeze corn, and then pop it into stews, stir fries, or just saute it to top a salad. Before freezing, I cut it off of the cob to make the most of the space in my freezer, but you can freeze it straight on the cob too!
Recommended Recipe: Chipotle Sweet Potato Noodle with Roasted Corn
As a vegetarian, hummus is one of the work horses in my kitchen. I use it as a spread for sandwiches, to dip veggies, or to top bowls. However, very rarely am I able to finish an entire container by myself, ESPECIALLY if I make the investment in Costo sized hummus. Enter the freezer! I will divide the hummus into two, separate glass containers and freeze. If you are freezing fresh made hummus, I would suggest adding a layer of olive oil on the top to prevent discoloration.
Recommended Recipe: Pickled Beet White Bean Dip
8) Cookie Dough
If you are making cookies, might I suggest making twice the amount of dough? Cookie dough freezes incredibly well, and can be defrosted when that cookie craving hits. Want a freshly baked cookie the second you think of it. Instead of freezing the dought in one container, I will freeze individual cookie sized portions of dough on a baking sheet, then place them in a bag. Whenever a cookie craving strikes, I can just pop out some dough and BOOM: craving satisfied.
Recommended Recipe: The Best Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ok, so we all know that, when we whip up a batch of granola, how one recipe makes about 10 cups. And I love granola, but little old me has no hope of finishing 10 cups of granola before it goes stale. That’s where your freezer is your best friend! Simply place granola in zip lock bags, freeze, and you are good to go!
Recommended Recipe: Sesame Coconut Granola
We all have that batch of pesto we make, forget about, and then realize it has gone south. It is the worst! The next time you make pesto, make a double batch and freeze the extra. Either freeze as a large batch or in ice cube trays for individual pesto satisfaction.
Recommended Recipe: Lightened Up Avocado Pesto