Food waste is a huge global issue that we’ve discussed from a number of angles here on Eco & Beyond.
When faced with an issue of this scale, it can be hard to see how we might be able to make a dent in problem as a single person.
But there are things we can do, and together those small actions all add up.
Here are 5 tips for freezing food – all of which you can implement at home, doing your part to help fight food waste.
Tips for Freezing Food and Avoiding Waste
Food that we don’t get around to eating in the home is the leading cause of household food waste. This is usually due to buying too much food in the first place.
Shoppers are enticed by special offers or buying in bulk to get increased value or savings.
The sad fact is that most of food wasted at home in this manner could be saved from the bin. But what can we do instead?
Tip 1: Freeze Food Anytime Before Use By Date
The vast majority of food can be frozen to extend its life, instead of letting it go off in the fridge. This will enable it to be used when it’s convenient rather than forcing it to be cooked and eaten before the best before or use by date.
It’s important to note that use by dates relate to food safety whereas best before dates are about food quality.
You shouldn’t eat food that’s past its use by date. But food past its best before date is still safe to eat but may not be of optimum quality in terms of taste or texture.
You can safely freeze most foods right up until the use by date. You don’t have to freeze on the day of purchase.
Tip 2: Wrap It Then Freeze It
When freezing food, it should be stored properly in the freezer to stop the cold air from drying it out – a side effect often known as “freezer burn”.
To make the most of your home freezing, place food in an air-tight container or wrap well in foil or an environmentally friendly cling film alternative. Expel any air from the container or wrapping to reduce the risk of freezer burn.
Tip 3: Make the Most of Meat
Did you know that you can safely freeze raw and cooked meats?
Take your frozen meat and defrost overnight in the fridge and check the meat is thoroughly defrosted before cooking. Be careful that raw meat doesn’t drip onto any other foods in the fridge.
Make sure to use the defrosted meat within 24 hours and cook it through until steaming hot.
The cooked dish can then be portioned out and frozen so it can be eaten at a later date. Freezing cooked meat, that has previously been frozen raw and defrosted, is perfectly safe.
Tip 4: Be Smart About Special Offers
Buying more produce than you can eat is sure way to generate food waste. However, where meat is concerned it’s still possible to take advantage of deals and special offers like buy one get one free.
Buy multipacks of meat on special offer and freeze them individually in small bags. The individual bags can then be used as needed.
You could take this one step further and buy large quantities of meat at wholesale and freeze it in portions for future use. Wholesale meat is often better quality and better value so it’s worth getting hold of in bulk as long as you have the freezer space.
You could also cook several meals at once, eat one and freeze the rest for later. This saves time on cooking, as well as helping to minimise food waste.
Tip 5: Freeze More Foodstuffs
Freezers aren’t just for ice cream! Most food can be frozen. Food with a high water content, such as strawberries and tomatoes, will go squishy but can still be used as ingredients in cooking.
For example, a handful of frozen strawberries blended with some fruit juice and yoghurt makes a great, ice cold smoothie.
You can even freeze dairy products. Keeping a frozen pint of milk in the fridge is a great way to ensure you can always get your morning pick-me-up. Especially useful if someone has used up the last of the milk in the fridge without replacing it.
When freezing dairy products, avoid freezing soft cheese as the texture will change significantly when defrosted.
Freezing Really Is a Win-Win
So there you have it, 5 tips for avoiding food waste by freezing.
Freezing food to reduce waste is a central theme of this year’s Food Safety Week (running 4th-10th July).
The week-long campaign from the Food Standards Agency will focus on helping people to better understand how to safely waste less food. You can get involved on Twitter by following @foodgov or #EatItCookItFreezeIt.
If you have any food waste or home freezing tips, let us know by tweeting @ecoandbeyond using the hashtag #EatItCookItFreezeIt.