I want to show you how simply freezing food can save you money by reducing your food waste. I think what I have to say needs to be shared. The amount of food we waste in the UK is embarrassing.
Tesco (to their credit) is the first UK supermarket to come out and show their waste figures. In the first 6 months they wasted 30,000 tonnes of food. Next month (November 2013) the new report from WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) will be published for 2012 figures. I imagine the results from that will be shocking.
Where does all this waste come from?
It’s simple really, supermarkets do an amazing job at selling us multi-packs or bargain bulk buys. These sound great at the time, but a lot of it will go in the bin. Some of the stats Tesco showed were that 41% of bakery items and 21% of fruit and vegetables are wasted.
What does that mean in real terms? Well, the average family spends about £700 in wasted food.
Could freezing food be the answer?
Tesco is working to reduce the size of their bargain bulk buys to limit waste. But we as consumers are at the end of the line. How are you going to eat all those fresh fruits and vegetables you bought before they go off? Freezing food is the perfect solution. Believe it or not you can freeze most baked goods, fruits and vegetables.
Freezing food guide:
Freezing baked foods:
Most people have never considered freezing baked foods. However, cookies, cakes, muffins and bread can all be frozen.
Cookies – wrap them up individually in a plastic wrap and then put in a freezer bag (means you can easily remove each cookie). They can last up to a month.
Cakes – (only unfrosted) Simply put in a freezer bag and you can keep them for up to 3 months.
Cakes – (frosted) place on a foiled tray for an hour till the frosting freezes, then place in a freezer bag. Can keep up to 3 months.
Muffins/ Bread – Just put in a freezer bag. I usually freeze half a loaf then defrost it when I need it. Freeze up to 2 months.
Freezing fruits and vegetables:
I am always surprised by how many people don’t freeze fruit and vegetables. If you freeze them at their best you can keep a lot of the flavour, the texture may deteriorate the longer you leave them though.
Vegetables need a little preparation before you can freeze them. Rather than go through all of them Andrea Dekker has a fantastic vegetable freezing chart that you should check out. Some of the best vegetables to freeze are:
- Green beans
- Lima beans
- Brussel Sprouts
Fruits are easier to prepare than vegetables for freezing.
Apples/ Pears – need to be cored, peeled, sliced. Lemon juice will keep them from browning.
Blackberries/ Blueberries / Raspberries – simply bag them up whole.
Melon – cut into cubes or sliced into smaller portions.
Peaches/ Plums/ Nectarines – pit and peel them.
Strawberries – have to be hulled. You can halve or quarter them.
Once you have prepared your fruit you will need to place them on a baking sheet (on foil) for a couple of hours till they freeze. Now you can bag them up into portions. They can last up to 6 months. However, the longer you leave them, the more mushy they will become (fine for fruit pies, and smoothies).
So you see, there are lots of foods you can freeze. I have only focused on those that Tesco reported as the biggest sources of waste. You can also freeze dairy, meat, cereals and main meals (casseroles are great).
Freezing food tips:
Before you start freezing food there are some general do’s and don’ts you’ll have to follow.
- Never re-freeze anything that has already been frozen
- A fuller freezer is actually more economical. The cold air doesn’t circulate as much meaning less power is used.
- You have to seal all your food otherwise they will get freezer burn
- Label all your food – with dates.
- Freeze food when it is freshest. The quality will diminish the longer it is frozen. Freezing older fruits and vegetables will not keep their shape and loose some nutrients – though still good for soups, broths and smoothies.
What you shouldn’t freeze:
There are some foods that don’t freeze as well. For example, vegetables with high water content like lettuce and cucumbers will go very mushy. Some dairy like yoghurt, cream cheese and cottage cheese will go watery. Any main meal you have cooked that has an egg-based sauce will curdle.
So how does freezing food save me money?
It is pretty simple. You waste less. By freezing food into portions you can eat at a later date you are throwing away less. At the start of this article I said the average family wastes £700 of food. Now imagine if you could save even £400′s worth of that by freezing. That is £400 less food you need to buy this year.
Image courtesy of epSos .detagsfood wastefreezing food