“Green consumerism is still Consumerism”
I came across this quote in a thread, and it brilliantly sums up a lot of what seems to be happening. People are trying to buy less plastic by buying a whole lot more other stuff. It is now chic to have shelves full of wood and glass. I can’t help but feel that buying more stuff is NOT the solution. So my focus is how to use what I have more effectively.
There are a dozen ways to do everything, I’m sure! But I’m offering these tips in case they help someone find a solution they’ve been looking for.
I had a fish delivery the other day, and tried a new way of freezing it. Previously I had wrapped the fillets in pairs, in cling film, to freeze. How to tackle it this time without clingfilm? I then remembered the old technique of glazing…
I cut up the inner bag from cereal to line a tray, and lay the pieces of fish neatly so they don’t touch, and put them in the freezer. A few hours later, I took them out, and ran them under a trickle of cold water (or dip in ice water is even better) to cover completely, then returned to the freezer. Repeat, for a total of 5 or 6 layers. This is what replaces the cling film and stops freezer burn. I then put them all into an empty resealable sweetcorn bag I had kept, much tougher than an ordinary freezer bag. It was actually simpler than wrapping meal portions, and more flexible if I have visitors.
Today I have done the same to the chicken fillets I bought at Sainsbury’s (where they let me have them in my own box!).
When I cook meals in a sauce like curry, bolognese, casseroles etc, I virtually always cook double or triple what I need for a meal, and freeze the rest in meal-size portions. However, only having a small freezer, I find simply re-using plastic trays takes up too much space, and I always used to pop out the frozen block and wrap in film.
This week I remembered I have the resealable bags that come on supermarket cheese (I haven’t found an alternative source for the reduced-fat, extra-strong cheese that we get, so have several of these). A 2-portion block of curry fits nicely into one, and it could even hold double. The labels I use stick well to it.
I think this would work for mince and diced meat also. Freeze in a tray or box, glaze-and-freeze a few times with water as you would with portions, then put them in a bag.
Wax wraps get a lot of press. They’re OK for some things, and I use the 3 I bought for wrapping certain veg in the fridge. You can easily refresh them just by putting in a hot oven (on parchment, on a tray) for a few minutes. Eventually you may need to grate a new bit of (special) wax on them and heat again. It’s not expensive.
But I don’t think they are suitable for preventing freezer burn, and quite expensive to use extensively. The cheese bags are really good for sandwiches too – tough, a good size, easy to wash. Cereal bags also have a number of other storage uses.
My home gets a steady supply of glass jars, too – mainly peanut butter, marmalade (breakfast), and mayonnaise (homemade coleslaw for lunch). Sainsbury’s herbs and spices come in glass with a screw top metal lid, which keeps things fresh much longer than plastic lids (I’ll now need to hunt for a way to refill them from a bulk shop) and I’m gradually transitioning to them in preference. These are all easily re-purposed for storage, though personally I prefer to use them in the fridge rather than the freezer.
I still have plastic boxes acquired over the years – my favourites were originally Spar vanilla ice cream tubs and Kraft margarine from the early 80s. 😉 Terrific material, tough and a little flexible. A few of the modern clip-lid ones, which seal really well but I fear will not last quite so many years, as I’ve seen the clips break.
And of course don’t forget the 2nd hand shops and online exchanges. Storage jars, yogurt makers, all sorts.
Finding ways around buying new is an ongoing challenge to creativity!