As someone who travels frequently, it is often difficult to buy the “just right” amount of food so that it doesn’t go bad before I leave town but also that I still have enough fresh food to eat. Sometimes, this works out OK and other times…food is sitting there, begging to be used. And darn it, I have run out of time to cook and eat. Therefore I am always on the lookout for cooking hacks that help me save more and waste less, and these freezer hacks hit it right on the money.
I have to admit something here. I don’t like waste. Yes, I am frugal, which is great because it fits in with how I eat. My basics are legumes, whole grains, sweet and regular (colored, if possible) potatoes, and fresh veggies, with some mushrooms and sea vegetables thrown in for good measure and good eating. All of these foods can be filling on a budget, but they also make a lot, so there are often ingredients which I haven’t used up.
When this last happened, I had to make some on-the-fly decisions: what to do with a bunch of basil that cold have become pesto (if only I had the time to make it), two thirds of a bunch of cilantro (potentially one of my favorite herbs), extra organic lemons and limes, and aquafaba, bean juice which this time was from chickpeas and the chickpeas.
Freezer Hacks to Reduce Kitchen Waste
This is where my freezer and ice cube trays come in handy. With little prep-work, I was able to preserve several of my ingredients for when I return from my latest trip. Check out these fun freezer hacks!
If you are planning to cook the basil anyway, it freezes well. Blanch the basil by dunking in boiling water for about 30 seconds to stop potential oxidations. Use a pair of scissors and trim the leaves from the stems. Place the leaves into freezer bags and freeze for later use.
The cilantro went into the blender with enough water to make a slurry (it might have been ¼ to 1/3 cup), and I put that into my ice cube trays to add to cooked beans or soups or dips or anywhere that I could use cilantro and liquid. Maybe even cilantro hummus would be good. My ice cube trays have cubes that are about two tablespoons, and I discovered after making these that I might have been better off filling them only half full. So instead of making 6 of them, I could have made 12. It’s easier to add more than it is to try to take it away.
Freezing Lemon and Lime Zest and Juice
Next, I needed to use those lemons and limes. They had seen better days and would be well past their prime when I returned. For the ones that were still looking good, I zested them with a zester, but you can use your Microplane grater. I froze the zest in one half to one teaspoon amounts. I love citrus zest from lemons, limes, and oranges to brighten up almost any dish. Then I used my lemon squeezer to juice the lemons and limes. I froze the juice in those two tablespoon ice cube trays. You can also make half cubes. When you are out of lemon or lime juice, voila you can use your freezer pantry.
Then there was the aquafaba from chickpeas. I don’t use aquafaba often, but my sister has a recipe for vegan quiche and says that aquafaba is the magic ingredient. Simply pour the aquafaba into the cubes and freeze.
Then there were the chickpeas that provided the aquafaba. Those got frozen which worked out perfectly so that when my husband let me know on the way home from the airport that he had invited people over at 5 pm (he wasn’t thinking dinner, but they were) I could quickly throw together a chickpea curry with the frozen chickpeas, curry powder, ginger, garlic, onion, sweet potatoes, and hot pepper, it worked out well. Oh, and I added one of those cilantro cubes and a cube of lemon juice after cooking. I almost forgot that I had just arrived home from travel, and hadn’t even unpacked yet because things worked out so well.
Good food and a good time were had by all. And I still had a number of goodies tucked into my freezer. You might want to see how it works for you.