My freezer is my best friend. It pains me so much to throw food away and my dear friend, Frigidaire, is always saving me from (literally) throwing away money.
1. Meat: I buy almost all our meat on clearance at the grocery store. Since I never know what will await me when I shop and I usually have a menu plan prepared anyway- it all goes straight to the freezer. I save a small fortune on meat by shopping this way and I can ensure I always have something on hand for last minute meals. I haven’t paid more than .99 on bacon in who knows how long- since it is almost always on clearance at Safeway. Once I get home I cook the entire package and put it in freezer bags. It warms up extremely fast and stays crisp. I can add bacon to breakfast in the morning, pastas, burgers, sandwiches whatever in just a few seconds since it is already done. I do the same with lunch meat. I always find very high quality meats on sale at my store near expiration for .99 and if I have a coupon I can get it nearly free. Then I get home, separate a few pieces into sandwich bags label the front ham, turkey etc.. and put it all in a big Ziploc. It is much easier to cut when it is frozen and I can toss the meat into anything I am preparing. My husband makes sandwiches all the time with this meat without any problems and I can make paninis without even defrosting the meat.
2. Snacks: When bread is on sale (like the .99 sale this week at Safeway) I buy an extra loaf and make an entire loaf of pb&j sandwiches. They freeze beautifully and are a great quick grab for me on a busy day. Since I am a vegetarian this is a great way to get a little protein and is certainly healthier than hitting the drive thru. I have found they defrost in about 20 minutes so by the time I actually get my shoes on, wrestle the baby into the car and head out it is ready for me. (This is a great tip for mommies that pack school lunches too. I promise the bread is not soggy and they taste like they were made fresh that morning.) I also do a marathon baking session about once a month. Most recently I made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins to use up my canned pumpkin and a bag of Bliss chocolate that was close to expiration. Just chop the Bliss up and you have chocolate chips. I use dark chocolate to make it a little healthier. Once they are completely cool, I put 2-4 muffins in sandwich bags and then all of the small bags into a freezer bag and Viola! you will never throw away yummy baked goods because you couldn’t eat 18 muffins in 2 days. These defrost perfectly and can also be reheated in the oven in minutes. If your yogurt is close to expiration, toss that in as well and defrost when you are ready for a smoothie.
(PB&J shelf is getting low! Yogurt on the left)
3 Produce: This is the worst for throw away and you are usually tossing the most expensive stuff you bought that week. I look for sales and stock up on veggies and fruit we love. Most recently I bought a ton of apples and red peppers at a great price. Both freeze beautifully- the peppers go in little baggies all chopped up. I top pizzas, add them to pasta, eggs- whatever. They cook in seconds. For the apples I had several that were starting to get mushy so I chopped them up and tossed them in a bowl with a little flour and sugar. Then I put them in freezer bags. These can be baked and added to ice cream or to top pancakes. My daughter LOVES these for dessert (just bake in a ramekin) on their own. I also made a little crumble topping inspired by Ina Garten- which also freezes- and I can make homemade apple crumbles in seconds.