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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Giving Commercial Frozen Fruit and Vegetable Bags a Second Life (or - Free Freezer Bags)

You all know that I am freezing and canning as much as I possibly can from my garden this summer. I just wanted to point out a free source of freezer bags that I am tapping for my own use -- used commercial frozen fruit and vegetable bags. After all, these are freezer bags, right? I keep a pair of scissors tucked to the side of my mixer on the kitchen counter. I encourage all family members to cut all packages open (instead of tearing them open). We save all non-animal product (non-meat/cheese) food bags to re-use, such as the bags that hold cereal, crackers, ramen, frozen fruits/vegetables, chocolate chips, potato chips/pretzels, candy, etc. I've been able to find use for even the smallest bags, you know, portioning out small amounts of raisins or holding a sandwich. As we empty the bags, we turn them inside out and give them a quick wash, then air-dry on the kitchen counter before turning right side out and storing in a box in the pantry.

The commercial bags from fruits and vegetables are perfect for freezing my prepared garden produce. This week, we are harvesting all of the Swiss chard that is about to go to seed. I shred the leaves, steam briefly in the microwave, then pack into one of these frozen blueberry bags. I've been using twist ties to hold the bags closed. When the supply of twist ties runs out, I'll just staple the bags closed. I use a Sharpie to mark each bag's contents. Perhaps you can see where I've labeled this one "Swiss chard."

Great Value quart-size freezers bags are $2.68 for 40, or about 7 cents each at my local Walmart. Using a repurposed freezer bag saves a little money, but it also reuses something that is durable enough for multiple uses. By delaying (or even avoiding) the purchase of freezer bags, less plastic waste is added to our landfills. This in one of those areas where frugality overlaps with preservation of our environment, so it's a double win!


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  2. I agree with this a lot! We've been doing this for many, many years. I rarely go to stores that use plastic bags these days, instead I use the re-usable ones. But I do need a garbage liner so I'm unsure how to handle this one. I have been throwing away a lot of smaller bags but that might just be my answer--just use smaller bags.

    Our local recycling center just closed so now we dump everything we would have otherwise brought to the recycling center. I have to now re-think how I shop. The first thing is to not buy cans of veggies or anything else that come in a can if at all possible. But if I buy frozen in bags, they have to be thrown away. And then there's plastic bottles....I just am beside myself that the recycling center closed.

    I could get curbside recycling but the cost of that out here is too high for my budget but I also think the garbage prices will eventually go up because everyone who used to recycle is now dumping so the garbage pickup will show a huge increase.

    I will now save all bags to be used for repackaging and to pack garbage in.


  3. That's exactly right, live and learn. I heard that from my grandmother often.

    Alice, maybe you already use these, but for a garbage can liner I use the plastic packaging from the large packages of bathroom tissue. The 12 roll packages come in plastic wrap that if cut on one end, leaves a large bag, beg enough for our kitchen trash can. I also use the plastic bags from 10 or 15-lb bags of potatoes and some of the plastic packaging from our institutional-size foods, like the sacks of sugar and rice. That is such a shame that the recycling center near you closed. I hope you find a solution for your recyclables.

  4. Alice, the same thing happened at our dump, here, too. They told us that they used to send the recyclables to CHINA, but now China was charging too much or not paying enough. Breaks our heart not to be able to recycle those things, too, though thankfully we don't buy a lot of food in that sort of packaging to begin with. I think you're right that garbage services are going to go up because volume is inevitably going to go up! But we don't pay for service, anyway. I just make a point of taking whatever we have to the dump anytime I'm driving near that part of town, so it only costs a few cents even in gasoline.

    Lili, this freezer bag thing is a great idea. I know people who save bread bags, and we wash and save the ziplocks that some of our mail order purchases come in; but I never heard anyone save the freezer ones. Seems like they'd be a very convenient size. I thought you were going to say you re-used the ones with zipper openings, and I was going to marvel if you could get those to work properly even for the original contents! (giggle) S&W's zippers work for me, but a lot of the other commercial things with zippers NEVER work correctly, even if I'm very careful to remove the contents with a measuring cup or scoop.

    Oh, and remember we were talking about holiday sales on meat? I went on Monday, and found some good sales that let me buy meat I normally wouldn't or get more of expensive meat. Due to a health issue in our family, we have to buy some organic products, no matter the price; and one of the sales was $2/lb off organic ground beef. So, that was wonderful, and then I packaged it very, very carefully into exactly the size portions needed for that one person; so I was able to make it stretch even farther. I was so happy! :)

    Take care, everybody@ Sara

  5. Hi Sara,
    What a great dal on organic meat you snagged! And I agree, you're using this meat in the most affordable way for your household's needs. It was extra work to package it all in individual quantities, but that work will pay off in savings. Good job!
    I know what you mean about those zippered bags. Many of those zippers are pathetic and just get in the way. I sometimes just cut the top portion off of the bag, including the zipper, and use a twist tie or a butterfly clip to hold the bag closed.
    This is such a shame to hear that recycling centers are closing. Maybe this will put pressure on manufacturers to use more sustainable packaging. When I spent sometime in Canada in the 80s I saw milk packaged in bags for the first time. I don't know why the US can't do that. I also wish more liquids came in reusable glass containers. I remember the days of milk bottles and soda pop bottles all in glass which was sanitized and reused. This will be interesting to see how everything shakes out. We could be on the precipice of a round of changes to how American manufacturers package products. Keeping fingers crossed.


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