I can’t argue with the appeal of fresh food, but then again, Americans waste about 25% of the food they buy. I’m guilty, too! From long lost moldy cheese to lettuce that never made it to my salad to last night’s leftovers that didn’t get rescued in time, the average family of four could be casting aside as much as $2,275 in wasted food (1). I think we can all agree that money would be better spent on a dream vacation, paying down your credit card debt, an extra mortgage payment, or pretty much anything besides trash.
To the rescue: Your freezer. It can bridge the gap between the food you use and the food that ultimately gets tossed. The first step toward reducing food waste is to take a critical look at your lifestyle. Fresh produce is one of the most-wasted foods. Most of us are well-intentioned, stock piling veggies at the start of the week so we can take advantage of the bounty without having to replenish. But our plans often get derailed. Perhaps it’s a lack of recipes that make use of the fresh produce or even a late night at the office that demands a takeout meal.
Getting to know all the things that can be safely stored in the freezer is key in reducing food waste. And buying frozen versions of your favorite fruits and veggies is another good move. They are a perfectly nutritious alternative for fresh, and just like your BFF, they’re always there when you need them! Most fresh produce can also be frozen, however a blanching step is often needed—worth the few extra minutes of prep rather than contributing to food waste.
The list of things that can be frozen is practically endless. Meats and poultry and grated cheese are especially easy to store, as are pre-cooked pastas, sauces, whole grains, and cooked hearty vegetables. Place them in resealable containers and store until ready to enjoy. Leftovers can get a new life if frozen and reheated when you need a last-minute meal.
Fighting food waste is easy when you effectively use your freezer to preserve food. Remember your lifestyle habits matter, too. Take notice of what foods you waste – that simple step can help you identify those missed opportunities for preservation. Finally, ensure your freezer is running at zero fahrenheit or below in order to safely store your foods. And the next time you’re at the store, pick up some freezer-friendly storage bags and containers.
- Buzby, J., Wells, H.F., & Hyman J. (2014) The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States. United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research S Web. (http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/1282296/eib121.pdf)
- Gunders, D. (2012) Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food From Farm to Fork to Landfill. National Resources Defense Council, 4. Web. (https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wasted-food-IP.pdfDid you enjoy this post? Stay in the know with more nutrition tips, and exclusive promo offers — join our newsletter.