Friday, September 17, 2010

Watch Your Waste (post #2 of 3)

I really don’t like to waste things. In fact, we bring take-out containers of left-over scraps home from restaurants, hoping that we can make a meal (or a late night snack for Dave) out of them. (If we happen to be out to eat with friends who don't want their leftovers we have been known to ask if we can take them. Our friend Amy, who lived with us for a while, used to bring home “doggie bags” of leftovers from business lunches for Dave--just in case).

I also really dislike wasting ingredients and groceries. It pains me to find slimy cilantro in the refrigerator drawer. (My remedy for this, is to SHARE the bunch of cilantro with a friend or neighbor after taking what I predict my recipes for the week will require.)

And the freezer is a great remedy for extending the life of foods.

Freezing Buttermilk is one of my newer discoveries. My mom tried it out and the Red Velvet Cake I made for Dave’s birthday was made with it and proved successful! Just measure and pour into sealed containers and label the date and portion on it with a Sharpie.

Bananas: If you have bananas that are really getting ripe (and you don’t have enough to make banana bread or time to make it), you can peel them, put them in a Ziploc bag, and stick them in the freezer. They can be thawed for banana bread making and are perfect for smoothie making - adding a thick, frozen creaminess.

Bread: I keep most of our bread in the freezer, so that it has a life beyond a few days. This is true for sandwich bread, when we are in a season of sporadic sandwich eating as well as artisan (crusty) bread, which doesn’t contain preservatives. I just leave half in a bag on the counter and the other ½ zipped away in the freezer. Then when we are ready for the “new fresh installment”, I just set it on the counter and in a few hours it is like day 1 bread…all over again.

Onions: When I am using part of an onion, I oftentimes go ahead and chop the entire onion, bag it, label it and freeze it. It can be thrown into the saute or soup straight from the freezer next time you need ½ a cup of chopped onion. It is so handy and prevents dying onion from stinking up your refrigerator.

Tomato Paste: I have a Mexican rice recipe that my family loves that calls for 2 Tbsp of tomato paste. It feels like a waste, even with the little can that I buy, to trash the other 6 Tbsps that remain in the can. But unless you are a frequent user of tomato paste, it is one of those ingredients that you might “lose” in the back of the fridge in some container. So I started scooping 1 Tbsp size portions into snack size Ziplocs and freezing them to be pulled out when making the recipe.

And you can freeze cheese.
And don’t forget leftover pancakes.
And it goes on and on and on…

Now I must warn you: freezer storing candy bars does not necessarily extend their life as I seem to like them EVEN MORE when they come right out of the freezer!

(stay tuned for Post #3 about Muffin Making)


  1. I love the idea of storing onions in the freezer! We've recently begun cooking (almost) all of our meals on the weekend in an attempt to lose weight(it's working!!), but the thought of chopping onions once or twice a month instead of every weekend(I HATE onions!) sounds awesome! Thanks Julie!

  2. One more way to watch your waste - put those small portions of tomato paste in an ice cube tray and stick it in the freezer. Once they are frozen, pop them out and put them all in one ziploc bag instead of using several bags.

    I am a big fan of the freezer. I like to make larger portions of soup, pasta sauce, etc. and freeze it in smaller amounts to be pulled out for a quick meal. Now I just need a bigger freezer!

  3. I just came over to your blog from (in)courage. I had a question about your book discussion group you have every other week. I'm in a new community and thinking of starting something like it. Do you read the book in two weeks and discuss the book as a whole or do you read it in parts. Just curious what method you found works well. I think it's awesome that you have impacted people in this way for 15 yrs. Love your blog.

  4. Nicole, Thanks for writing! I will email you to tell you more about how we do our group! It has been a huge blessing!

  5. I can't stand to throw cut up fruit away. I've started pulling out portions I know that we will eat and then freezing the rest before it goes bad. Frozen berries make a yummy snack!

  6. Or, Allie, freeze in a bag until your bag is full (1 quart or whatever). Throw the frozen fruit into the blender with some juice or water, add some sweetener if desired, and you will put the Smoothie people out of business!

  7. The Brits have it all over us in the tomato paste department. Theirs come in a tube, not unlike a toothpaste tube, so you squeeze out what you want. Brilliant.

  8. I have seen it in the tube at specialty shops and just haven't wanted to spend the extra $$...Brilliant idea indeed, Debbie!

  9. I knew about most of these, but freezing buttermilk?? Genius!! I always have leftovers from one recipe or another. Thanks for the tips.