Ok, so you’re going through the fridge…waiting for something to jump out at you for a snack or an already made dinner (don’t you wish you could just pull out something hot and ready from the fridge??) You’re looking through drawers and you find a few things close or at their expiry date. Of course, it doesn’t always mean the food has actually gone bad! I have a few tricks to share to make the most of those foods or even fresh produce that is starting to look a little…sad!
Fruit and veg
When your produce has been sitting a little too long in the fridge or on the counter, a great trick is to turn it into smoothie kits! I’ve tossed in a wide range of produce like grapes, bananas, kiwi, apples with bruises, carrots, broccoli, spinach, kale…basically anything into my smoothie kits! Place your sad looking produce into a variety of freezer bags, add some protein powder if you want, or even some vitamin boosters like Emergen-C, then zip it up for the freezer! I usually save the liquid ingredients until I’m actually going to make the smoothie. If you prefer an even a quicker snack, blend all of your sad fruit and veg together then portion out the premade smoothie to grab in the morning and drink it in the afternoon after it’s had time to thaw! This is also something my kids love for an after school snack!
If you have block cheese or other harder cheeses close to their expiry why not shred the whole block, then zip it into a freezer bag. It will come in handy for adding to things like mac and cheese, eggs, pizza, spaghetti, or anything you typically use shredded cheese for. It’s especially great for any meal that requires melted cheese! I generally shred it because if you freeze the block (which you can do) it becomes crumbly. Regardless of how the cheese gets into the freezer, it’s still better to use for melted situations.
If you have yogurt getting close to expiry there are a few options. It’s an ingredient that, in any form (yogurt drink, tube or cup), can be added to your smoothie kits, above. If you have yogurt tubes, you can just simply put them in the freezer for them to be consumed as frozen yogurt freezies. If you have cups, you can punch the lid with a popsicle stick to be consumed as a frozen yogurt popsicle! (We recently tried this, with huge success. The kids highly recommend it!)
You can freeze it! Most of the time I’m using buttermilk for baking or pancakes. I have used frozen and thawed buttermilk in all kinds of recipes, and it works very well! I have not noticed a significant enough difference between fresh or frozen (and thawed) buttermilk. Often my recipes require 1 cup, out of my 1L carton. I try to portion it out when I’m freezing so I can just thaw and then add the whole portioned amount to my recipe!
If your deli meat is getting close to expiry (and not opened – it just freezes better that way), you can indeed stick the package right into the freezer. I find you definitely have to let it thaw completely before adding it to your sandwiches. If you rush it, you will end up with tiny shredded pieces of meat and you will get frustrated with it for sure…trust me!! But if you patiently let it thaw, you likely won’t even notice it was frozen!
If you’re anything like me, you have probably noted just how expensive butter has become! So, when I can find it on sale I try to buy as many as I can. Butter is a great thing to freeze. I mean, it already has a long shelf life in the fridge, but the freezer extends it even further, and its hard to tell that it was ever frozen!
Bread and other baked goods
The biggest thing about bread is to try to seal the loaf as much as you can. The more you do to prepare it for the freezer the longer it will last. You can fit a couple small loaves into a freezer bag, take the air out and zip it up. You can try to find good sealing containers to keep your bread from getting exposed to the freezer air. For baked goods you can put a bunch of muffins or cookies into a freezer bag then pull out what you need when you need it! You just never know when you’ll need a cookie!! You can freeze home made and store bought baked goods to make them last longer, that way you don’t ‘have’ to eat them within a couple days…
It may sound crazy right? Have you ever made a pot of coffee to find that you actually have a cup or more left in the pot? Grab an ice cube tray and freeze your coffee into ice cubes. Use them in your iced coffee for a boost of flavour and so that your coffee doesn’t get watered down. You could even try adding some of them to your smoothies, depending on the other ingredients. You could even try your hand at making a frappuccino instead of a regular coffee.
Dips and condiments
If you ever buy individual servings of humus or guacamole for example, they are great for the freezer. By the time you would eat them for lunch or a picnic they would be mostly, if not fully, thawed. You could keep any dipping sauce or condiments from ordering take out. If you get ketchup or vinegar with your order, keep it for a future picnic or camping trip. They can come in really handy when all you need is a bit! It’s so easy to toss those things that come with your order without giving it much thought! Even soy sauce – it’s amazing how much flavour a little packet of soy sauce can add to camping meals, or how handy it might be to use those packets of salt or sugar in the future. Most of the time I just put the condiment type items in the fridge because I don’t know how much extra room there is in the packages as freezing space.
My favourite way to save food are the smoothie kits by far – it’s amazing how deliciously the random stuff comes together. They are just so versatile in terms of what you can add to the bags or to the blender and still have them taste great!
Hope you can save more of your food and throw out less as those expiry dates approach! If you have any other tips or suggestions of what you freeze or keep and how, feel free to add a comment below!