By Abra Pappa For Nutritious America
Although my brain thinks it is time for spring produce we are still some time away from asparagus, leeks, artichokes, and other glorious spring goodies. This “in between” growing season is the perfect time to tackle that freezer.
If your freezer is like most I’ve seen it is a virtual wasteland of “good intentions.” We fill our freezers with the best of intentions to get to that which was purchased or prepared. Containers of soups, stews, chili, organic chicken, grass fed beef, mom’s meatloaf and aunt Susie’s Christmas fruit cake are all lovingly packed in and frozen to be quickly forgotten.
It is estimated that 40% of all food produced in America is thrown away. That is nearly 1400 calories per person every day that is wasted! How much of your hard earned money is thrown away with freezer burn?
This spring spend just a bit of time to re-evaluate your use of the freezer and try these tips to keep your freezer food fresh all year long.
Keep a Freezer Inventory List
There are a ton of free inventory templates on the net, but I like to keep things super simple. Either buy a dry erase board for your fridge or keep a hand written list on your fridge. List all of the food in your freezer and the date it was put in. Keep this list in plain sight so when you are meal planning or looking for that quick mid-week dinner you have a list of items available.
Schedule Freezer Eating Weeks
When money is tight, or you have an exceptionally busy week ahead of you, schedule a freezer eat-a-thon. It can be fun to work through some of your masterpieces or to challenge yourself to eat what has already been purchased. This may mean planning a bit ahead so you can properly defrost the food.
One Item In = One Item Out
If you are into freezer cooking (cooking enough of one dish to be assured to have more to freeze for another time) then you should follow this rule. When you put one new thing in the freezer something has to come out. Just finished a delicious batch of carrot ginger soup? Take out the vegetarian chili that you made a month ago and eat it for dinner this week.
Label Your Food
You know that mysterious container of something in your freezer? That thing that you had the best intentions of eating again but you have no idea if it’s the dark red-ish looking container or the dark grey-ish looking container? Save yourself the hassle and simply label the food that goes into your freezer. Label with what the food is and the date you froze it.
Rotate Your Inventory
Every month spend a few minutes to rotate your freezer inventory, put the newest items in the back and the oldest items in the front. Frozen food does not have an eternal shelf life. If you haven’t gotten to it in 3 to 6 months throw it out and start fresh.
With the warmer months and abundance of fresh produce just around the corner now is the best time to work through some of the food that you prepared through the winter. Become a freezer forager this week and see what kind of meals you can whip up.