As I’ve mentioned many times, we’ve been thinking a lot about food in the Jackson household this year. The hardest part for me isn’t finding new recipes or buying new ingredients (although that is intimidating at first too) but rather figuring out new systems and habits to sustain the new recipes. We’ve come along way in figuring out what works for us and I want to share these habits and tips with you in this new series, Food Staples.
We make green smoothies between five and seven days a week. After a few months of really really green smoothies that only some of the family members would drink, Andrew convinced me to start adding generous portions of fruit as well. Now we all sit around the blender at breakfast or snack time and pour cupfuls until our hearts are content. To support this daily drink we need to have a freezer constantly stocked with fruit, which can get expensive. Here is how we have made frozen fruit economical and convenient for our family:
Acquire fruit on sale and with coupons. Our solution is to buy loads of whatever fruit is on sale that week and flash freeze it. We look through all the adds of grocery stores in our town and price match the produce deals at walmart. Anything less than a dollar a pound we usually buy around 10lbs of. This summer we’ve stocked up on blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, mangoes, kiwi, bananas, grapes, and peaches.
We joined the Driscolls Advisory Panel to get extra coupons to add to the sale price of the berries. Every box of driscolls berries has a 16 digit number at the bottom of the box that you use to fill out a survey about the berries in that box, which you then get a coupon for. They start at 50 cent coupons but quickly switch to 75 cent and then $1 off. At the beginning of the season we wait for a sale (anything less than a dollar per box of berries) and load up with 9 or ten. We then immediately fill out the surveys, print off coupons, and head back to the store and buy more berries with our steep discounts. When we find a sale for 99 cent berries, we end up getting between 20-30lbs of berries for free, based on how often we want to go to and from the store and spend time filling out surveys. This week we bought 27lbs of strawberries for $13.50 using driscolls survey coupons – way more than you get in a bag of frozen berries for the same price.
Prep the fruit for freezing during snack time. Once the fruit is home I flash freeze it to keep the fruit from sticking together once it’s bagged. We put a thin, plastic cutting board on a cookie sheet which can easily be pulled up after the fruit is frozen so the fruit just pops off. I set up the cutting station with a towel full of drying, washed fruit, a cutting board and knife, a bin to compost scraps, and the prepared cookie sheet. Emily and Nathan are close by eating fruit as we go. Some tips on preparing each fruit the fastest way possible:
Kiwi. Stand the kiwi upright and use a sharp knife to cut the skin off in 4-5 strokes downward. Cut it in half lengthwise and across and lay on the sheet. We eat the skin as we go.
Peaches. Cut around the lengthwise of the peach and twist so the halves pop off the pit. Cut each half in fourths to freeze. If the peaches are sticking to the pit, I just stand it up and cut straight down around the pit, making four pieces. I do a final cut off the bottom. Emily eats the extra off the pit and we grab a few cut pieces too.
Mango. Cut down either side of the pit, leaving you with three pieces. Cut a cross on each large wedge of mango and pop the four pieces out of the skin (getting a total of eight pieces per mango). I take the skin off around the pit and Emily, Nathan, and I take turns eating the fruit off the pit.
Bananas. Peel and break into halves or thirds (depending on the ability of your blender to tackle large pieces). Line them up on the cookie sheet.
Berries and Grapes. We prepare berries at the kitchen sink. Wash the berries in the containers, pluck off the green top, and lay on the sheet. It is really helpful to have the thin cutting board under the berries because they tend to really stick to the cookie sheet. We eat lots and lots of berries as we go.
Store in freezer bags or plastic tubs. Once the fruit is frozen on the outside it can be put into a large freezer bag or put into plastic containers (like ice cream tubs). We also wash the bags we store our fruit in since we use the fruit rather quickly, or mix up the type of fruit in the bag if one is almost empty. We are still working on our freezer organization with so many bags and I’d love any tips.