The deepest, darkest corners of my tiny condominium freezer are the place good intentions go to die. As a result of I’m ceaselessly cooking for only one or two individuals, I typically have a ton of leftovers, particularly little odds and ends, that I simply can’t bear to throw into the trash. As such, I’m eternally sticking a container of uneaten beans or a single rooster breast into the freezer, by no means to be seen once more.
These random leftovers pile up over time, particularly when mixed with the containers of additional soup, knobs of ginger, baggies stuffed with cooked rice, and remnants of pasta sauce or pesto, turning my freezer into a fairly terrifying place. It’s an icy museum of my failures — all of the meals I’ve allowed to grow to be freezer burned in favor of brisker, extra compelling groceries.
A number of months in the past, these random piles of Ziploc baggage and precarious stacks of pint containers grew to become untenable, and in a second of desperation, I merely threw all of them away.
Though, sure, I did really feel responsible within the second, tossing the contents of my freezer into the dumpster was an train in liberation. With my freezer empty of all of the random stuff I’d already refused to eat on numerous events, I used to be now free to inventory it with meals I truly would eat. Immediately there was room for Dealer Joe’s frozen snacks just like the edamame pods I like to steam, then douse with ponzu and chile crisp for a straightforward aspect dish. (You realize, gadgets which might be designed particularly to carry up effectively within the freezer.)
You may wish to metal your nerves for the method, as a result of cleansing out your freezer requires full and complete honesty with your self. You have to be prepared to confess that you simply’re not going to show these ice-coated rooster filets into dinner and that you simply’re virtually definitely not going to prepare dinner with something that’s frozen into an unrecognizable mass. It’s seemingly that a lot of the meals in your freezer has been there longer than consultants advocate. Many frozen meals begin to degrade considerably after only some months, and whereas they’re fit for human consumption, they’re often mushy and gross.
You could make peace with the truth that this meals has already been wasted, and holding on to it doesn’t do something to unravel the actual drawback of American meals waste. It’s a disgrace that it’s virtually inconceivable to purchase the small quantity of rooster you want on the grocery retailer as a result of all the things’s bought in monumental household packs. And it’s equally shameful that, on this place of abundance, many individuals are unable to afford to purchase sufficient meals. However the previous rooster breasts in your freezer aren’t the foundation of systemic starvation, and throwing out a single trash bag of discarded meals isn’t a local weather catastrophe. (In the event you’re actually feeling bizarre concerning the waste, contemplate donating a little bit money or just a few hours of your time to a meals pantry, the place you’ll be able to truly make a distinction as an alternative of stewing in your guilt.)
When you’ve received a clear slate, you’ll be able to inventory your freezer in a approach that is smart in your life. Purchase just a few bins to maintain your staples organized, or perhaps set up a shelf that may assist you to reap the benefits of any unused vertical house. Then head to the grocery retailer with the intention of shopping for solely what you want for the week, and make a psychological word to peek inside your freezer as soon as a month or so and toss something that appears suspect.
It is perhaps a little bit painful at first, however you’re not going to remorse trashing all of the scary stuff in your freezer. Repeat that mantra to your self as you pull all these sketchy containers from the cabinets, and energy by. And if you happen to do end up feeling responsible, attempt to channel that vitality into constructing extra sustainable procuring habits — ones that received’t flip your freezer right into a corridor of subzero horrors.
Emily Chu is a illustrator, muralist, and visible artist based mostly in Edmonton, Canada.