Monday, November 10, 2008

Frozen Assets – Part 1: Using Up Fruit

Today we begin a new series called “Frozen Assets.” In this series, I’ll show you ways the Diva family has learned to stretch our budget and make the most of our food purchases by using our freezer.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, about 14% of the groceries purchased by a family of four go to waste. Based on a study done at the University of Arizona in conjunction with the USDA, researchers found that the average family throws out 470 pounds (that’s not a typo…470 pounds!) of food a year, for a total loss of about $600.

Think about it. How many times have you cleaned out your refrigerator and dumped unopened or partially used containers of food in the trash? How many times have you tossed out fruits and vegetables because they spoiled before you could eat them all?

To truly make the most of the food you buy, you need to use it all up. Remember, it’s not a deal unless you will use it…all of it. So, whether you are buying 4 pounds of strawberries at rock bottom prices or a 5 pound bag of carrots at Costco to save a buck off grocery store prices, if you don’t use it all before it goes bad, then it’s money down the drain.

Part 1: Using Up Fruit

This week we’re talking about produce. Here is one way the Diva family stretches their grocery budget by using the freezer to preserve fruit:

Smoothies – The Diva boys love fruit. In fact, we buy the large packs of strawberries, oranges, bananas, and apples every time we go to Costco, and often, we use it all up in no time. At every meal, we serve the Diva boys fresh fruit. However, inevitably, there are always a few berries or chunks of banana left on the boys’ plates. In the past, these leftovers would go right in the trash, but not anymore. In our freezer, we have a gallon Ziploc freezer bag dedicated to storing leftover fruit. Whether it’s leftover fruit from a meal or extra fruit that won’t get eaten in time, into the freezer bag it goes. Whenever we are craving a smoothie, we grab some yogurt, milk, and frozen fruit and create a tasty batch of mixed fruit smoothies. Not only are we using up the fruit that would have gone to waste, but it’s also a great, healthy way to use up extra yogurt and milk, too.

Junior D’s “Nana Berry” Smoothie
1 cup milk
1 carton yogurt
1 cup mixed frozen fruit (bananas, strawberries, melon, etc.)

Toss fruit into blender and let sit for a minute or two to thaw slightly. Add milk and yogurt and blend until smooth.

One last tip…when watermelon is in season, it’s often almost as cheap to buy a whole watermelon as it is a half. Can’t eat it all? Freeze the rest in small chunks, and blend it into delicious melon smoothies!

In my next post, I’ll cover other ways to make the most out of your produce, including freezing it for use in baked goods.

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