Frugal freezers save money
How to save money and help the environment
Freezing outside temperatures may be unwelcome, but local councils, through Oxfordshire Waste Partnership (OWP) want us to learn to love the freezers in our kitchens. Working with the national Love Food Hate Waste campaign OWP is highlighting the importance of the household freezer in reducing unnecessary food waste: if it’s used properly.
A staggering £860 million worth of food is currently stored in freezers across the UK, but doubts about freezing a wider variety of foods, and a belief that freezing is only for long-term storage, means we are taking the freezer for granted and not getting the best out of it.
Paul Mocroft, OWP’s communications officer is coordinating the campaign across the county. He says, “We’re calling on the public to become ‘Frugal Freezers’ and learn more about one of the most versatile but underused household appliances: the freezer. By making meals from what’s in our freezer we can save money, postpone our regular shop and make room for any homemade meals, the inevitable leftovers or seasonal foods that might be on offer.”
Last week the Government's food strategy, Food 2030, was launched in Oxford with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Hilary Benn telling delegates at the Oxford Farming Conference that ensuring food security is just as important to Britain's future as energy supply. Using the humble household freezer to make the most of the food we have and reduce unnecessary food waste leads to more sustainable consumption.
Chair of OWP Cllr John Tanner uses his freezer for allotment grown produce and homemade food. He says, “Most of us have a freezer, but forget it’s an incredible tool for preserving food and keeping tasty meals to hand. The key is not only to maximise your use of this storage tool but to make sure you’re organised too. By keeping similar foods together, rotating stocks and labeling, we get the most economic use out of our freezer and help avoid UFOs: Unidentified Frozen Objects!”
£12 billion worth of food and drink is thrown away in the UK each year. This food waste is damaging to the environment as producing, storing and transporting the food uses high amounts of energy and resources. Not only is this as a waste when food gets binned, but in the landfill site rotting food emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
“A bit of smart freezer use can help reduce this waste and save us a fortune on our shopping bills” John adds.
Key facts from the Love Food Hate Waste campaign
- £12 billion worth of food and drink is thrown out every year in UK homes. Householders are throwing out on average £480/year. This increases to £680/year for families with children: or £50 per month
- In terms of weight, 5.3 million tonnes of food and drink is thrown out every year in the UK. This includes cheese, milk and juice, meat and fish, fruit and vegetables and bread. This figure does not include anything we wouldn’t normally eat, like peelings, bones, or crusts
- Wasting food has a huge environmental impact: if we stopped throwing food and drink away, it would save the equivalent of at least 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. That’s like taking 1 in every 4 cars off our roads.
Top tips to be a ‘Frugal Freezer’
- Keep your freezer about three quarters full for most economic use
- Rotate your stocks so that older foods from the back of the freezer don’t linger. A well organised freezer will save you rummaging around and avoid UFOs: Unidentified Frozen Objects! Keeping a list of what’s inside your freezer might be helpful too
- Almost any food, fresh or chilled can be frozen. This includes hard cheese, eggs, bread, cream, vegetables, meat and cakes. Food can be frozen at any point up to the end of the “use by” date
- Make sure you cool hot food before freezing it
- It’s best to defrost food in the fridge overnight, but it is safe to defrost food at room temperature, as long as you eat it as soon as it’s thawed. You should eat food defrosted in the fridge within two days
- You can cook vegetables frozen. Just steam or boil them for 5-10 minutes, depending on the variety
- If you defrost raw meat and then cook it, you can freeze it again. To use the second time round, defrost carefully and re-heat until piping hot. Do not refreeze cooked foods that have already been frozen or raw meat
- You can keep food safely in the freezer for years, as long as it has stayed frozen the whole time, but the longer you keep it the less tasty it will be.