In the last year or so, I’ve become quite passionate about reducing waste. There have been various things that have contributed to my growing interest, but this article in particular really hit home for me.
I knew that food wastage was a huge problem in America, but I had no idea just how bad it really was. According to the article, around 50% of all produce in the United States is thrown away… In monetary terms, that’s about $160 billion dollars worth of produce tossed in the trash every single year.
Add to this the fact that American’s generate more waste than any other country in the world, and 55% of all waste is from residential garbage, and it becomes very apparent that we need to do better.
I’m the first to admit that I used to be pretty bad when it come to wasting food. Every week before I went grocery shopping, I used to go through my refrigerator and fill up a grocery bag with food that had gone bad.
I hated doing it because not only was it contributing to landfill, I was essentially throwing money down the drain.
One of the biggest contributors to my constant food wastage was buying things that I only used a small amount of, then placing the remains back in the refrigerator and thinking “I’ll try to make sure I use the rest of that during the week.”
Of course, I very rarely did, and so in the trash it went.
I cringe thinking about it now that I’ve learned that there are so many surprising things you can freeze for later use!
How to Avoid Freezer Burn on Frozen Foods
One thing to note when you’re freezing certain foods, especially things like meat, leftover dishes like pasta, lasagne, etc., is that it can have a tendency to get freezer burn.
There were many times when I’d freeze a big container of delicious leftover chili, for example, and then I’d go to reheat it for dinner a week or two later and it was destroyed due to freezer burn.
The best way to avoid this is by investing in a Foodsaver vacuum sealing system.
The Foodsaver is also great for when you find a great deal on a particular item at the grocery store and want to buy in bulk and freeze it, but are afraid of freezer burn.
Additionally, because a lot of the following tend to freeze well in ice cube trays, I’ve went ahead and bought these stackable silicone ice cube trays with lids. The lids help to prevent freezer burn, the silicone is BPA-free and makes it easy to pop the ice-cubes out, and they’re stackable so they take up less freezer space.
10 Surprising Things You Can Freeze To Reduce Waste and Save Money
1. Tomate Paste
Tomate paste was something I used to throw away all the time. We love making homemade pizzas, so I will regularly buy those little tins of tomato paste. In addition, many of the recipes I make call for one or two tablespoons of tomato paste. That always leaves a substantial amount left in the tin, which would inevitable end up in the trash can.
You can easily freeze tomato paste in a ziplock bag or ice cube trays and simply break off a piece from the bag or empty a cube from the tray.
2. All Types of Berries
Virtually all types of berries can be frozen and then used in smoothies, cakes, desserts, etc. Berries can also be very expensive when they’re out of season, so buying in bulk when they’re cheap and freezing them is a great way to save money.
Not only do grapes freeze exceptionally well, they taste delicious when frozen. Apparently there’s a whole trend on instagram of posting pictures of frozen grapes (go figure!) because they look pretty when frozen. Regardless of how they look, they taste amazing.
4. Fresh Herbs
I grow my own herbs indoors using this indoor herb growing kit, which means I have an abundance of fresh herbs (sometimes too much!) That’s a great problem to have, but it does mean that I can easily waste a lot of my herbs if I don’t freeze them. Herbs can easily be frozen by chopping them up and placing them in an ice cube tray with a little bit of water or olive oil. Then you simply add the ice cube to your dish while you’re cooking it.
5. Cake Frosting
You know those premade containers of Betty Crocker cake frosting? I don’t buy them regularly, but whenever I do I always seem to be left with at least half a container of excess frosting. These actually freeze very well!
6. Pasta Sauce
Both jarred and homemade pasta sauce freezes well. Simply pour it into ziplock bags, freeze it flat in the freezer and then thaw when you’re ready to use.
Chicken or vegetable broth is kind of like tomato paste… Recipes will often only call for 1 cup, but there’s a lot more than that in an average carton. Fortunately, vegetable broth freezes well in freezer bags!
8. Pancakes & Waffles
If you make homemade pancakes or waffles, you’ll probably agree with me when I say that we have a tendency to make WAY too many. Which leaves you in a bit of a predicament… Either gorge yourself on pancakes and feel bloated for the rest of the day, or toss them out.
Not so fast, my friend!
Pancakes and waffles freeze really well, which means you can either have a quick treat for breakfast during the week when you’re running late, or you can have them all ready for next weekend.
9. Protein Balls
I make a huge batch of protein balls every week and I always store them in the freezer. They don’t go rock solid to the point where you can’t eat them, they just go firm and cold which is perfect for when you’re taking a few in your purse to snack on during the day, or putting in the kids lunchbox.
I love making fresh pesto with my homegrown herbs, and fortunately, pesto freezes very well. (So does the jarred variety, if you don’t make your own pesto.) You can either freeze small amounts directly into ice cube trays and pop it out for your dish, or pour the pesto into a ziplock bag, freeze it flat and then break off the amount you need.