Monday, February 22, 2010

Freezing Your Way to a Lower Grocery Bill

I think it's been well documented in this blog that I really am not a huge fan of leftovers. I don't mind eating them the next day for lunch, but if I eat the same meal for dinner, lunch, dinner and beyond...well, I'm not a happy camper.

Enter my new best friend: the freezer. First off, I do buy most of my meat in bulk and freeze it. Costco has individually wrapped chicken breasts and salmon fillets that are super easy for weeknight meals and are really reasonably priced. But now, I've gone beyond using the freezer for frozen things and now use it to freeze my leftovers for later! For some of you who may already be freezer pros, this is probably not news to you. However, I have a feeling that most of you are throwing away food because it's going bad! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans throw out about 11 BILLION pounds of fruit and vegetables every year! We're not just talking fruit and vegetables - how often do you make something for dinner, put it in the back of your fridge and then you forget about it until you smell it? Yeah, that's gross. Do something about it!

Here's what I do: after dinner, I begin packing my lunch for the next day with that night's dinner. The rest of the meal gets put into a freezer bag, labeled and stored in the freezer. If it's a large quantity of leftovers, I might save it in two separate bags so I don't defrost more than I'll eat (I don't recommend refreezing things - gross). What else do I do to get the most bang out of my buck? I freeze fruit and vegetables that I know I won't eat before they go bad. Last week, I got a 3-pack of bell peppers and couldn't finish the last one. I cut it up into strips and now, I'll use them for chicken fajitas this week.

But is it worth the work? I think so - I spent $20 on groceries for the WEEK. That includes 4 dinners, things for lunches AND Golden Double Stuff Oreos. Uh huh. Yeah. Jealous? ;) Not only that, but meal prep will be as easy as thawing and heating up. I get the best of leftovers and avoid the dreaded "I'm eating that AGAIN" thoughts!

Freezing isn't quite as simple as it looks. I love this article from CBS/Real Simple Magazine that talk about the best way to freeze things.

I'd love to hear if you all have freezer strategies or other ways to make sure the food you buy doesn't go to waste!


  1. We JUST started doing this, in part because we got partway through preparing a lasagna and then opted to save that work for later and make a faster meal. So, we froze the chopped up veggies so it'll be easier when we do make it (later this week).

    The link you posted on how to freeze is super helpful. The key information I want to know is how to best defrost things. Got any resources out there for that?

  2. I'm a big fan of freezing homemade pasta sauce and chicken stock. Both cheaper and tastier than store-bought.

  3. Jo - here's another link from Real Simple about how to safely and quickly defrost food.

    Hope that helps!

  4. You've totally got me inspired. It seems like I’m always throwing away fruits, veggies and leftovers. I’ve got my freezer bags ready to go. Thanks for the helpful info.