I love a shortcut.
Anything that helps to make my day easier and I’m there!
Thats why I LOVE my freezer!
Freezers can be the forgotten asset in your kitchen, but used sensibly can be a real saviour to getting the most out of your food (saving money and stress as well)
Sounds like a great opportunity for some organising to me!
There are so many things that you can store in your freezer, that I simply had to write a list for you! Hopefully this will give you a boost to start using your freezer more and more – and to utilise it as an extension of your food cupboards.
If you are one of my facebook followers you’ll know I recently asked the question to you about what you freeze regularly – and I wanted to thank you all again for your great comments which I have of added below. Thanks again!
Please note – I am no expert on this and can only talk from my own experiences – of which I have clearly stated whether I have frozen the food successfully or not – so if you try one and it doesn’t work as well for you – PLEASE let me know!
Freezers can keep things fresh, for a long time, and can be a great way to deal with leftover food – so lets get going and see what you think!
How long can I freeze food for?
There are actually no safety reasons why you can’t freeze food indefinitely – but it will deteriorate over time, which is why food have recommended freezing times attached to them – but thats the only reason.
I have looked into the recommended times for freezing different foods, and on average its around 2-3 months as a good rule to follow – this can help if you want to ensure you are eating items within their most quality time, and would also be a good idea to ensure that nothing gets left forever at the bottom of the freezer!
TIP – If you write a label on whatever you freeze then you can date it as well – so its easy to see what needs eating and when (especially useful if you have made and frozen batches of the same food on different dates)
What Foods Can I Freeze?
In actual fact – most foods can be frozen. The only real exceptions are the following:-
- Eggs in their shells
- Canned goods (once uncanned then they are fine!)
- Leafy Vegetables and Salad Leaves
- Foods that have previously been frozen
- Mayonnaise and Creamy Sauces can be frozen but their texture changes so it depends on how you are going to use them as to whether you want to freeze these products.
There are some that wear better than others, and usually this is all related to the water content involved. The more water, the less successful the freezing process is (as they can tend to mush or change texture when defrosted).
What Baked Foods Can I Freeze?
- I have frozen cookie dough before – when I bake with my daughter I always make double the dough and freeze half before cooking (a tip from a Nigella book!). That way when I want to do some quick baking or its after school and I don’t want too much mess (!) I can defrost the dough during the day and its still a fun activity for her to roll and cut them out (and you also get that lovely freshly baked smell wafting through the house – yum!)
- I absolutely live by freezing sliced bread. We as a family only really eat sliced bread for toast – and our toaster has a frozen function that toasts frozen bread really well, so it makes absolute sense to freeze bread as soon as it comes into the house – that way we never waste it, and theres always some on hand!
- I have also frozen cupcakes and cakes after baking before – great for when you have a party coming up – simply defrost and then ice – much quicker than a mammoth baking session the day before the party when theres enough going on! – Its also a good idea if you have people over for coffee and cake as you can get the right amount of cakes out each time and it can save a fortune on the bought varieties! (and then you don’t have to eat more than you need to to avoid wasting them… or is that just me!)
- Other things I have frozen from time to time are bagels, bread rolls, muffins, prepared (but not cooked) crumble mix and garlic bread (great for when you only need one slice!).
- Cookies and Brownies freeze well too.
What Dairy Foods Can I Freeze?
- Butter and Margarine – Straight in the packet – great for emergencies!
- Cheese – I find that its much better to slice or grate prior to freezing as it can get crumbly after defrosting.
- Milk – Always a good one as a backup for when you run out! (t will expand so watch that you have left enough space in the container
- Yoghurt – of course! – this is a great treat and when left to defrost slightly and used as an ice cream alternative it can be a healthier option too.
What Fruit and Vegetables Can I Freeze?
NB – Please wash all fruit and vegetables prior to freezing so you can use straight away (they can all cook from frozen so this helps save time)
- All fruit that you would use in a smoothie will be fine frozen (some will mush up by being frozen but if used for smoothies this really doesn’t matter!) TIP – why not bag up in smoothie portions – then its dead easy to make one when you want it! make the mixes you want and bag them up! saves loads of time too.
- Berries – I have frozen berries every morning with yoghurt and granola – I simply freeze and grab a handful then microwave to create a lovely compote style sauce – yummy!. You can also use for making sauces for puddings by defrosting and using a hand blender to smooth out the bits. I also use for crumbles to mix with apples – really quick and easy.
- Bananas – Great for freezing, I bag up when they are starting to turn bad so they aren’t wasted – and work brilliantly for smoothies especially.
- Grapes – These freeze really well and are also a good sweet cold treat eaten from frozen too! (watch smaller children though as can be a choking hazard)
- Lemon and Lime wedges – I LOVE this idea and use it regularly. Freeze wedges of lemon and limes and use in drinks instead of ice cubes – great for childrens drinks, and the odd G&T!
- Fruit Juices freeze really well – you could even make up ice lollies from the dregs of cartons for a sweet and good for you treat!
- Root vegetables freeze really well – but I always part cook first – they can also be cooked from frozen when you need them.
- Mashed potato is the saviour in my house! Especially when its a meal just for my daughter because no matter how much of a good mum I want to be I can’t face the prep of mashed potato just for one portion each time!. Whenever we make mash we always make loads, and then freeze into plastic bags in portion sized amounts – Perfect for a quick and easy roast in the week!
Can I Freeze Herbs and Spices?
- Dried spices freeze well and therefore keep their fresher aromas and tastes better – a good tip if you use them irregularly.
- Fresh herbs also work well frozen, but I put them in ice cube trays with a bit of water first to keep them green and fresh as they can have a tendency to come out brown if not!
What other foods can be frozen?
Theres nothing worse than coming home after a long day at work and not having the energy to cook (we all have those days!), but there are little faces looking hungry and hopeful back at you…. so what do you do?
Many of us will reach for a ready meal or a quick fix – but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to grab a healthy, homecooked meal from the freezer, ready in seconds (I can hear the ping of the microwave now!)
Some of the things I have a constant supply of in the freezer are as follows:-
Soups – Stews – Sauces (pasta sauces) – Cooked Pasta (the packets of fresh pasta freeze really well in portions) – Cooked and Raw meat – leftover veg cut up from recipes – dregs of wine ready for adding to recipes rather than opening a new one etc…
What did my facebook followers suggest can be frozen?
Here are some great suggestions from those of you on facebook – thanks for the great tips – keep them coming!
- NM on said “I tend to batch cook individual meals and take out in mornings so ready to put in oven or heat up at tea time….I make fish pies, cottage pies, curries/sweet and sour/chilli con carne (and just do rice when needed), bolognese (and just to pasta when needed), broccoli and cauliflower cheese bake to name a few….This saves so much time and means I can spend more time with my son after school too”
- EMK on said “We freeze fresh meat, cooked rice and there is always plenty of garlic bread hidden away: )”
- LB said “a nigella lawson tip – dregs of wine can be frozen and used to flavour casseroles and sauces. another nigella tip – the rind off a piece of Parmesan can be frozen and then used whole to flavour minestrone soup, left over fresh herbs are also good”
- JC said “I make pesto,and freeze it when basil is in season. The key to keeping it fresh and green? A thin layer of oil on top before freezing. Saves time to have on hand, and believe it or not you can freeze avocados for guacamole or even the prepared guacamole ahead of time. The key is to mash th avocados with some lime or lemon juice and then freeze in a bag with all the air squeezed out or as much as possible”
- RP from www.mygreenandtidylife.co.uk said “Ginger root, chillies (chopped), bean/vegetable cooking water (for stock), grated lemon/orange rind, fresh lemon/orange juice, cartons of fruit juice, olives (they go a bit soft so only good for cooking), jam (put a part-used jar straight in the freezer, it defrosts in minutes when required”
- HC said “I freeze chillies, whole, so when a recipe calls for fresh chilli, I have them. They can be chopped from the freezer and defrost in mins. I also always make more than needed if cooking a dish thats freezeable, eg a stew or soup, or chilli and rice etc and then after the meal put the substantial leftovers in a Klip-it and put a label on top of the food, ie under the lid, so its readable through the lid and doesnt wipe off or fall off and it will say chili and rice – 2 portions, or whatever, then on a day that im too tired/lazy/bored/dont have time/dont have the ingredients, I can whip out a portion or two for my boys dinner (or Saturday lunch is a good one) and they get a wholesome meal and i have simply pushed a few buttons on the microwave. If I buy meat, like a gammon or ham, I get double and roast/cook both but freeze one. The one i freeze I usually cool and slice and bag up separately, then i have lovely ham for sandwiches (much cheaper than the bought plastic packs) or a carbonara etc.”
- LA said “Cream can be frozen in cubes – add one or 2 to a soup for instant creamyness! Also milk can be frozen…we buy little 1 pinters (because they fit easily into the corners of your freezer) just in case we run out!”
- HC said “I freeze stock in yogurt cartons. 1 pot is enough to add to Oxo or Bisto for a stronger gravy and can be melted in a pan straight from the freezer (I often add Soy or Worcester sauce for extra depth).”
What do you freeze?….. I’d love to know some more short cuts if you have them! Please leave your comments below.
Top Tips when Freezing Food
- Never refreeze food – and always check the label on any food you want to freeze to make sure it hasn’t been frozen before – it will say whether its suitable for freezing or not.
- Slice muffins and bagels etc… before freezing as it makes life easier when you defrost them (and you can then toast straight from the freezer)
- When freezing fruit and small items, freeze on a baking tray or similar first and when frozen you can bag them up in plastic sealed bags or tupperware containers – that way they won’t all stick together and you can portion them up.
- When freezing meals, write on them what they are and when you made them so you know when they need to be eaten by.
- As a rule most items can be frozen indefinitely (contrary to popular belief) – but their quality can deteriorate over time, so if you want the best quality then follow the guidelines – heres a good list for you to show you roughly how long things stay at their best when frozen for.
- Always freeze in sealed containers or bags, and label properly (I have picked out two bags of what I thought was bolognese sauce before, only to find that one was chilli!! – it was a buffet style tea that evening!)
Try and see what you get is the real lesson here!
Most foods can freeze pretty well, so its worth testing and seeing what works for you!
The only exception really are foods that have already been frozen.
With the right organising you can really create a great quick alternative to ready meals in your freezer, and have ready prepared ingredients ready to make every meal time much easier – and what could be better than that!
So – what do you freeze?…..