So you’ve made all this yummy food, portioned it out, and put it all in the freezer. Now what? Well, it’s not going to do you any good if you’re not going to eat it, right? One of the biggest ways we waste food is when we let it linger in our fridge or freezer for months on end. *Guilty*. So what should you do to make sure you actually eat the foods you’ve made, portioned, and frozen?
It’s really simple. All you have to do is make it a habit to take out a few things at a time from the freezer and put them into the fridge! You don’t need much–only enough for 3-5 days, but no more than a week. When you see the food there, you’re more likely to eat it. Also, to prevent waste of perfectly good fresh fruits and vegetables, all you need to do is put a plate of sliced fruits or veggies on the table, maybe with some dip or crackers. When the kids are doing their homework or asking about after-school snacks, you’re prepared.
I take my premade sandwiches, rice or pasta, and portioned frozen fruits such as blueberries or grapes out of the freezer a couple of times a week for my work lunches, and put them into the fridge. They’re thawed out by the next morning or so. All I have to do is take out whatever I want and put it in my reusable lunch bag. Add a bowl or plate, fork or spoon, and a napkin, and I’m ready to go.
You can have a variety of ready-to-eat snacks in the pantry as well. Buy things such as crackers or cookies in bulk rather than in the pre-portioned packs. Portion them one cup at a time into snack size bags and keep them where the kids will see them and therefore eat them. You’re saving money because not only are the bulk packages less expensive when you calculate the per-unit price, you usually get more portions out of a given size bulk package than you would if you bought the pre-portioned ones. To calculate the per-unit price, take the actual price of the item and divide it by the number of units (servings, ounces, eggs, etc.) in the package.
Take applesauce as an example. Sure, the packages of four or six cups are convenient, but if you bought a large jar instead, you’d actually be able to make up to 11 portions for about the same price (where I live, applesauce is around $3-4 whether you buy the jars or individual serving packs). Buy the 4-ounce size lidded containers and portion the applesauce into them. Applesauce can be frozen up to 3 months. Just let it thaw in the fridge overnight, and it’ll be ready when you pack the kids’ lunches the next day. Seriously, I’ve done this myself.
Lunch meats and cheeses are a big food waste problem with a lot of families. The kids say “I want this for my lunches,” and Mom buys it. Two weeks later, it’s rotting because the kids only had one or two servings of it before they got tired of it and moved on to something new. If you portion the lunch meat and cheese and put it into the freezer, all you need to do is take out a few packs at a time to thaw so they’ll be ready for making lunch. Buy patty papers from Amazon. Put your favorite deli combo between two papers, put everything into a resealable sandwich bag, and freeze it. Deli packs can be frozen up to 4 months.
Building better habits goes a long way with Meal Prep. There are a lot of things you can do to create better habits that help reduce food waste. How do you reduce food waste? Let me know in the comments!