How many times have you bought a big container of fresh strawberries, only to totally forget they’re in the fridge and let the fruit turn into a fuzzy mold garden?
Then you have to wallow in fruit-waster guilt after you chuck them, which is never fun.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to extend the life of your fruits and veggies: freeze them! In addition to a less guilty existence, here are five benefits to freezing leftover fruits and veggies right now:
Cut Down on Weekday Cooking Time
Would you like to get 20 minutes of your night back after a long day at work? If you grocery shop on the weekend, take a few extra minutes when you get home to rinse and chop up your produce. Then, freeze everything in groups according to the meals you’re going to make for that week. This will significantly cut down on prep time throughout the week.
Use Leftover Veggies for “One-Pot” Meals
Leftover veggies usually get tossed out if there’s not a full serving. But, just like saving loose change, every little bit counts in the grocery-budget game. Instead of tossing, keep a big freezer bag just for vegetables and add leftovers as you go throughout the week. These can be reused in stir-fries, soups or stews.
Save (Literally) Thousands of Dollars
Did you know the average family of four throws away as much as $2,275 worth of food every year? It’s true, and a huge portion of that waste is fresh produce that’s gone bad. Face the facts: it’s really easy to waste money on fresh fruit. If you notice fruit starting to go bad, freeze it before it’s too late! Then, thaw when cravings for fruit salads, smoothies or just a healthy dessert arise.
Embrace Sliceable Frozen Produce
A common myth is that the quality of frozen food doesn’t hold up over time if sliced or chopped before being packed away. That’s not true! The following produce does exceptionally well frozen when sliced or diced: Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peaches, plums, cherries, mango, avocado, bell peppers and squash. Tip: To prevent mushiness when thawing, blanch your produce before freezing.
Create More Fridge Space
If your refrigerator drawers are overflowing with produce (hello, family of four!) shift some inventory to your freezer! Follow these three steps to keep your produce as good as new:
1. Rinse and slice your produce, then line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place produce on the paper.
3. Once frozen, put the goods into a plastic freezer bag.
You’d be amazed at how much you can store in your freezer once everything is in compartmental bags or Tupperware containers!