As I’ve gone through this multi-year process of reducing our spending and saving money, I’ve come to realize that setting up kitchen routines is one of the best ways to prevent food from being wasted. What do I mean? Take freezing foods, for example. Freezing food is a great way to prevent leftover or surplus food (that last slice of meatloaf, anyone?) from being wasted. I knew this, but until a couple months ago I didn’t have any routines in place for freezing food- I would just throw things in the freezer in a panic when I realized they were about to spoil in the fridge, and many times I would find that they had already spoiled. Here are a few routines I’ve instituted that have helped keep me on track with freezing foods in a timely manner:
- I labeled a Ziploc bag, “Crouton Bread,” and put it in the freezer. When I get to the end piece of a loaf of bread, I no longer let it sit in the fridge, wondering if someone will want to snack on it. It goes straight into the Crouton Bread bag.
- I labeled a Ziploc bag, “Bananas,” and put it in the freezer. If we buy bananas and they start to get those little brown spots, I no longer leave them on the counter, reasoning that someone may still want to eat a semi-fresh banana. I immediately peel the offending bananas, break them each into four pieces, and put them in the freezer (to be used for smoothies or banana bread).
- When I make a pot of beans, I don’t put it in the fridge after dinner, wondering how many more dinners we’ll get out of it this week. I immediately separate the beans into portions (each portion= enough for myself, my husband, and our daughter) and freeze the portions. My family appreciates the fact that I won’t be forcing them to eat multiple bean dinners in one week, and I appreciate that the beans aren’t fermenting in the fridge until I have to throw them out.
- On pizza night, when I open a 5 pound bag of shredded mozzarella cheese from Costco, I no longer let it sit in the fridge, hoping I’ll use it up before it starts to mold. Instead, I use what I need for that night, then use baggies to separate the cheese into portions (each portion= the amount I would need to make 1 pizza) and throw them in the freezer.
- I labeled a Ziploc bag, “Soup Meat” and put it in the freezer. Any time we have leftover meat that we won’t eat for lunch the next day I throw it in the Ziploc. When the Ziploc is full I make soup with it (see recipe here). I realize this one is a bit hard-core for some of you, but the soup tastes really good, I promise! And no, we don’t scrape meat off our plates to use for the soup- we only use meat that hasn’t been served.
Do you have any kitchen routines set up to prevent food from being wasted?
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