(MCT)—My friend Lindsay did something fabulously simple last week. So simple in fact, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it first. She took fresh-from-the-market ears of corn, sliced off the kernels and scooped them into a bag that she tossed into her freezer next to other similar ones. Now, this taste of summer goodness is easily available all year long for her family. It’s proof that with just a little planning, it’s painless to eat seasonal and locally grown foods every month of year.
Think about all the resources it takes to ship out of seasonal foods to your grocery store. The fuel and energy used in the process can be mind-boggling. It is also makes it much more expensive to buy those non-seasonal foods. Many fruits and veggies will last eight to 12 months in the freezer without any loss in taste or quality. The ones that can go right into the freezer without any extra work are produce such as berries and peppers. Others that may require blanching first include squash and green beans. Take note that those quart size plastic freezer bags will usually hold enough produce to serve two people. Choose gallon size ones for larger families. You can find more specific freezing recommendations at DoYourPart.com/Columns.
You may want to also consider freezing a few make-ahead meals created with those summer ingredients to save time, energy and money. For instance, I visit my favorite farmer’s market during the summer and stock up on tomatoes. Since tomatoes on their own don’t usually freeze well, I make big batches of tomato sauce with them and always have the perfect sauce to use for pasta, soups and lasagna in the months to come. Sauces aren’t the only things that freeze well. So do casseroles and soups. When freezing meals, make sure they are put in airtight containers to avoid freezer burn. Most meals can stay in your freezer for up to three months. Mark them with the date so you use the oldest first.
One other tip for those make-ahead meals is to incorporate grocery store sale items in them to save even more money. If chicken, beef or organic produce is on sale, you can create two good meals for a whole lot less than you normally would spend. Making double batches also means you’ll use less overall time and energy.
A little planning and preparation is all you need to enjoy the tastiest flavors of the season all year long. It’s another way to Do Your Part while enjoying a home-cooked meal, saving time and conserving resources. Bon appetit!
Distributed by MCT Information Services