Friday, 19 October 2012

The Problem with Canned Portions

I've been finding a lot of recipes lately call for a small amount of a canned good. Products that you can only buy in giant cans, or at least cans bigger than you need. With the fall season now fully upon us, I've been inspired to make all things pumpkin! For anyone who has ever bought pure pumpkin in the cans, you know it comes in a massive can! Most of the time, you only need 1/2 cup or something measly like that! It may be pumpkin this time around, but it happens in our house with everything from pumpkin, to coconut milk, to evaporated or sweetened condensed milk, even tomato sauce!

In the past, I usually put the renin ants of the can in a container into the fridge, and swear that I'll use them before they go bad. In all reality, they get pushed to the back, forgotten about, and even mistaken for what they actually are! In the end, they usually get pulled out weeks later, moldy or frozen (if they've been left in solitary confinement at the back it's bound to happen), and chucked out anyways. Putting them in the fridge because you don't want to get rid of perfectly good product always seems to just prolong the inevitable.

So browsing Pinterest, I noticed people were suggesting putting small servings of things in an ice cube tray and freezing them to use at a later date. Well of course! Why was I not thinking of freezing these leftover bits?! So I started with the can of pumpkin I had just opened. I needed a 1/2 cup for a recipe, and decided to freeze the rest in 1/2 cup portions in their own freezer bags. I labelled them and got as much air out as possible and voila! For once a used a whole can of a ingredient like this. I have since done it with coconut milk, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and frozen orange juice concentrate. What I've found to be a great way to think about portioning, is think about how much would normally be used of that ingredient in a recipe. It may seem silly to freeze a bunch of 1/2 cup bags of coconut milk, but most of the time the recipe doesn't call for much more than that. By freezing the remainder in its entirety, if its way more than you'll ever need at once, you're again just prolonging throwing it out. The whole point is to reduce waste and get more bang for your buck. So even if you have to use a few more freezer bags, they're worth less than the can of food you'd be tossing out in the end.

When it comes around to needing a small amount of something you cannot find a substitute for, consider this freezing method. I've surprisingly used up almost all of the pumpkin I'd portioned, which ended up being about 2.5 cups worth! Major score! Because they're in small amounts, they're easily thawed in 30 minutes by letting them sit in the sink before you need them, or even running warm water over them right before you need them. Another idea to use that canned good up right away, plan to make a double batch and freeze half. Whether healthy snacks or a full meal, having the extra made in the freezer will definitely come in handy when you're all too busy to prep down the road.

What kinds of things have you frozen, or preserved in another way to use up all of the item? I'd love to hear what you freeze, or even how you do it!

Happy Saving!
- C

1 comment:

  1. last winter i made home made soup....a lat pot of it. i knew we would never eat it all... so I used muffin tins. filled them up and froze them. one a cold winter day (nothing that compairs to your winters haha) i would pull out 3-4 "pucks" and throw them in some tupperware and toss in our lunches for work. by the time lunch came around they were still a bit frozen but a few minutes in the microwave fixed that right up!