Yesterday I wrote about the ungodly amount of stuff that I keep in my freezers. Since most of that was on sale or purchased in bulk, it is definitely a cheaper way to get/keep your food supply. But, since this week's focus is reducing food waste, I thought we'd touch on that.
Baking: I bake often. Like, every day. One would think that as a family, we're either A.) bigger than barns from eating all that stuff, or B.) have baked goods up to our noses. Actually, neither is true. Whenever I bake, we eat it for that meal and I freeze the rest for another time. Most of my muffin recipes make 48 mini muffins. The daycare kids eat between 10 and 24 usually, depending on what meal they are served at (unless it's chocolate chip and then I never make enough). The others get stored in a gallon freezer ziploc bag for another use. The uses vary from I don't feel like making more muffins, so we'll eat from the "stash," to the girls or hubby need a little something extra in their lunch so I'll throw a couple muffins in. Then, there's the late night, the little guy isn't in bed yet, but I want something to eat and I can shove a whole muffin in before he notices. I do the same thing with waffles, brownies, cookies, pancakes, and rolls (any bread really). This reduces food waste by not letting food sit on the counter and get stale, or worse yet, we eat it when we aren't really hungry making it pointless consumption. I'm becoming very big on "eat to live, not live to eat." Also, by keeping a nice stash in my freezer, I don't have to buy as much food. If I were to throw away 10-20 muffins every time I made them because they got stale or moldy, I would need to make more at a later time, spending more money and using more food.
I'm a leftover kind of girl, but I don't necessarily want to eat the exact same thing over and over--enter the freezer. I do this a couple different ways. First, I can make a soup for dinner. The family eats it and I save extra out for lunches the next day. Then I freeze the rest for a quick meal another time, and because it's frozen, we might eat it next week or next month and it's still as good as the first time. The second way is to remake a dish. If we were to save the leftover veggies from dinner each night (supposing there are any) and I keep them in a bag in the freezer at some point, there will be enough for a vegetable soup or chicken pot pie. Even if it's only a couple spoonfuls, that is food that would otherwise be throw away and now I'm using it to complete another meal (saving both money and reducing waste). I also save leftover taco meat, sloppy joe meat and sausage crumbles. They can be reused by themselves in their original state or mixed together to make something completely different-in Hamburger Helper or enchiladas perhaps.
Freezing is a good way to keep produce from spoiling. I often buy several pumpkins in the fall and bake them. Then I puree the pumpkin and freeze it in half-cup portions for pumpkin muffins and bread. I do the same with butternut squash. Last year, my garden produced several zucchini squash. I shreddedall of the extras and froze them, portioned in ziploc bags so I have them ready to go when I want to make zucchini bread or cookies.
The same principle works well with cream of mushroom (chicken or whatever cream soup you use). I make a large batch from scratch and freeze it in my muffin pan. Then I pop them out to store in bags in the freezer. One half-cup "muffin" equals one can of your "cream of ___" soup. By making a big batch of soup like this and freezing it, I don't waste the container of mushrooms that I needed to buy and only used 2 mushrooms for another recipe. I can use the rest up on the soup and have it ready to go when I make casseroles or porqupine meatballs.
Lastly (and I only remember this because I did it yesterday), you know that little bit of spaghetti sauce that is left in the pan after a big spagetti dinner. It isn't really enough to make another serving, but seems like too much to throw away. Put it in a jar in your freezer. If you do this 2-3 times, you will have enough sauce remnants to use when you make pizza. Yesterday, I made a smashing cheese pizza from scratch in 30 minutes. Part of my speediness was being able to defrost the sauce that was in the freezer, it only took 5 minutes and was from another pizza making last month and Monday's spaghetti lunch. If I had throw out the leftovers on those other occasions, I would have had to open another can of tomato paste and sauce, plus add the seasonings and simmer it. So, not only did I not waste food, but I saved myself some time in the process. Gotta love the win-win!
What sort of things to you freeze that reduce your overall food waste?