Contributed by Jennifer Dawson

The NRDC reports that Americans waste 40% of all food - that’s the equivalent of practically throwing almost half of all purchased food straight into the garbage. With this growing trend of food waste, many are seeking timely ways in which they can preserve food in a meaningful way and save on the expense of waste. Purchasing or self-producing freeze dried, dehydrated foods is one such popular solution especially with the global market for freeze dried food expecting to grow by an estimated 7.01% per year for over the next five years (Mordor Intelligence).

Healthy and Time-Saving Solution

Freeze dried, dehydrated food is food that has undergone the process where almost all of its moisture is removed, subsequently extended its shelf life by years. This simple process involves putting the food in a vacuum-like chamber, resulting in a crisp like taste and texture while still maintaining much of the particular food’s original flavor. In addition, freeze drying food preserves its natural, wholesome nutrition. This method is favorable by many because it is clean, lacks artificial preservatives and chemicals, and requires minimal processing. In fact, you can even freeze dry your food from the comfort of home.

What Can You Freeze?

Thankfully many foods easily freeze dry, making it a convenient solution to the troubles and woes of food waste. Berries and fruits, in particular, freeze impeccably well because of their natural ability to retain a substantial amount of rich taste. Freeze dried fruit accounts for about 53% of all purchasable dehydrated foods. Banana chips, freeze dried strawberries, and dehydrated blueberries are all perfect examples of this. In addition, coffee grounds, vegetables, tubers, deserts, even entire meals have the ability to be freeze dried. Any food that does not have an oily base dehydrates well. Boosting a Healthy Lifestyle Freeze dried foods don’t have to be consumed on their own. In fact, many freeze dried foods can easily be incorporated in existing foods to promote a balanced, healthy diet and lifestyle. Dehydrated foods can be added into hot or cold cereals, DIY trail mixes, baked goods like muffins or scones, or even incorporated into yogurts. For those super savvy parents out there looking to save money and ensure child nutrition, freeze dried foods can even be used as a basis for homemade baby foods. One simple food swap, for example is to use dehydrated fruits in smoothies in substitution for the fresh fruit the recipe calls for. This swap maintains its nutritional value, but you’re guaranteed the shelf life of a freeze dried strawberry versus a fresh one that can be covered in mold by the week’s end. By supplementing these ordinary foods with freeze dried products, you are covering multiple food groups and reaching the targeted food guidelines as encouraged by the USDA. Next time you are grocery shopping, don’t skip the freeze dried food section. The benefits to freeze dried food are many. With its long shelf life, rich taste, and the easy incorporation into daily meals to promote a balanced diet, freeze dried food is undoubtedly the simple solution to America’s food waste crisis.