Stop Food Waste: Freeze your spending by Recession-proofing Your Freezer

Date released: Jan 24 2012

The EPA’s Stop Food Waste Programme is encouraging everyone to start the New Year afresh by rethinking our food storage habits, sorting the freezer, and avoid throwing out up to €700 worth of food every year.

To help kick start this process, Odile Le Bolloch, spokesperson for Stop Food Waste at the EPA, suggests tackling the contents of your freezer.

“Freezers are a great friend to every kitchen but they can become a disorganised food black hole in no time. Food goes in there with best of intentions of future consumption but ends up coming out to go straight into the bin because we can’t remember how many weeks, months, even years it’s been in there! So this week why not go to your freezer –and make a list. Put the list on the side of your freezer and plan a series of meals around what is in it - this is food that will cost you nothing but if forgotten may become a waste.”

Once order has been restored, here are Stop Food Waste’s series of tips for great freezer management:

  1. Try and keep your freezer organized– this will take a bit of regular maintenance but is always worth it.
  2. Invest in a permanent marker and labels so you can label & date everything you put in the freezer, that way you won’t wonder how long it’s been there in a few months’ time. 
  3. Maintain the list on the side of your freezer (including the date the food went in) – this can be updated regularly or if you are a techno-chef check out some of the freezer apps for smartphones.
  4. Make sure your fridge and freezer are maintained properly - this will ensure food is cooled properly and saves on electricity costs too.
  5. Use freezer bags – they take up less space than containers and can store most foods. Lay partially filled bags flat in the freezer and once they’re frozen, stack them upright in rows, like books on a shelf!
  6. Try and use the "first in first out" policy – this is what supermarkets do for stock control and is a policy worth following.
  7. Freezers run more efficiently when full so learning to flash freeze food that you might get on special offer is a good way to ensure a fully stocked freezer.
  8.  When cooking casseroles & stews, why not cook double & freeze for convenient homemade ‘ready meals’.
  9. Instead of wasting lemons by not using them all up, cut a lemon into slices and freeze on a tray – once they’re frozen you can store in a bag, that way when you’re fixing yourself a gin and tonic after all that cooking for your freezer, you have lemon slices and ice cubes all in one!

So before going shopping, to buy more food, have a closer look at your freezer, and see if you can save yourself money and reduce food waste. Check out the StopFoodWaste website for more information, tips and recipes.

Additional Information

About The STOP Food Waste Programme

The STOP Food Waste programme is funded under the EPA National Waste Prevention Programme (NWPP). Waste Prevention is the preferred waste management option in Ireland. By not generating waste, we can eliminate the need to handle, transport, treat and dispose of waste. We can also avoid having to pay for these services. In light of the significant issues arising from the disposal of food waste, and the realisation of the costs associated with this, the NWPP Prevention Plan 2009-2012 set out to promote food waste prevention and home composting.

More Top Tips to Help You Save

  • Storage – Make sure fruit and vegetables are stored in the correct place. If you are unsure where to store your items, just copy your local shop, they try and preserve their fruit and vegetables for as long as possible.
  • Examine - Use your own judgement when throwing out food. Use by dates are for safety and should be followed, best before dates are a guide. Labels such as sell by and display until are used for stock control by shops and are of no consequence to householders.
  • Keep all dairy products in the fridge. As the saying goes 'milk left out for an hour is the same as a day in the fridge!'
  • Use your freezer - If you are not going to use meat or fish, freeze it, or cook it and eat it in the following days. Also, if you decide to use just some of it, freeze the rest.
  • Use stock control - Supermarkets are smart and use stock control to maximise profits. Try this at home - you'll waste less and save yourself some cash.
  • Investigate – Check your fridge, freezer and cupboards before you go shopping. Poke around at the back of your shelves; it’s surprising what you may find.
  • Make a list – Not only will you remember the essentials, but this will also help your costs at bay.
  • Get Creative – Plan meals around the ingredients you have at home. Dig out that old cookery book and you too could become the next Donal Skeehan! Check out our Luscious Leftovers and Cupboard Clearout Recipes on the StopFoodWaste website.
  • Beware – Special deals are found in every corner of your local supermarket, often bought because they are a good deal, these foods regularly do not get eaten.