This is how I save leftovers, bread, fresh herbs and bananas at home: simply store the foods in freezer safe glass containers or reusable freezer bags to save time, money and waste.
When I freeze bread in a reusable ziplock bag, I write the name on a piece of paper and the date it was frozen, and slide into the bag so it’s visible (you can reuse those too). When I freeze food in a glass container, I also write the name of what’s inside and tape the nametag to the outside of the jar before adding to the freezer.
Before freezing overripe bananas, peel and slice into 6 pieces. Freeze the slices on a freezer safe tray (I use a stainless steel tray). As soon as the pieces are frozen, store in a freezer safe glass container. Perfect for smoothies.
Slice your loaf of bread (if the loaf is a little soft and difficult to slice, put it in the fridge in a paper bag for a few hours to harden it up a little), wrap the pieces in wax paper and freeze in a reusable ziplock or other freezer safe sealable bag. Take slices out, as you need them.
Whether the fresh herbs come from your garden or the farmer’s market, keep some on hand during the winter months. Wash and dry the herbs before storing. Wet herbs don’t store well. My two favorites are the ones I use the most, basil and parsley.
Basil: puree it in a blender with olive oil and pour into a small silicone ice cube tray. When frozen, pop them out and store the cubes in either a glass container or ziplock bag.
Parsley: store them by saving just the leaves and discarding the stems (good compost material). Pack the leaves tightly and firmly in a freezer bag and roll the log until there aren’t any air pockets. Secure the log with rubber bands at either end. Slice a piece off the herb log as needed and reroll and rewrap tightly before returning to the freezer.
My favorite foods to freeze are pureed soups like carrot-ginger, cauliflower-fennel or zucchini-potato-pesto. I have found that chili’s freeze well, as do curries and homemade tomato sauce.
Save time by precooking quinoa, barley, wild or brown rice (other grains can be precooked as well). Let them cool completely before freezing. Store in ziplock bags, and stack them flat in the freezer. When needed, just add directly to a stir-fry.
After shelling the peas, blanch them for 2 minutes in boiling water, and put them straight into a bowl full of icy water. Once the peas have completely cooled, drain and pour them into small ziplock bags, removing as much air as possible and store the bag(s) flat in the freezer.
Photo credit: Priscilla Woolworth