One of the best ways to keep food fresh for longer is by freezing it.
The main reasons to freeze food are either to cook in bulk and freezing the rest saving time, or to reduce food waste of products that may otherwise go bad.
For example, if a banana is over-ripe, you could make a nice loaf of banana bread or freeze it to use later in a smoothie.
The same goes for leftover food. If you are keen on low waste living, stack up your freezer with leftover meals to use later in the week.
Not only do freezer meals reduce food waste, but it also helps you meal prep in advance. Cooking freezer meals free up the time spent in the kitchen – this means more time for other things!
In today’s post we are not going to talk about freezer meals, instead, we will take a look at how to stock food products in the freezer safely without it going bad.
That’s right! Freezer hacks to help you buy and stock food in bulk.
Let’s take a look at some freezer hacks that will change the way you use food.
1. Bread & Milk.
If you have more than you need, milk is one of the most useful items to be frozen. Two staples that are good to freeze even if you are going away on a short break is milk and bread. This way once you are back from your holiday, you have some milk and toast for your morning breakfast.
Tips on freezing bread:
1. If its homemade bread, make sure it’s cooled down before you freeze it.
2. Place individual slices in a freezer bag and try to get out as much air as possible.
3. Fresh store-bought or homemade bread can be stored in the freezer for up to a month.
4. To re-heat frozen bread, take out the desired amount of frozen slices and place in the fridge overnight to use the next morning.
5. Just make sure you loosely pack the bread slices, so the frozen sliced don’t get sealed together.
Similarly, grated cheese can also be kept in the freezer similar to the bread slices.
The next item that works out cheaper when bought in bulk is meat.
Just before storing meat in the freezer, separate the meat in freezer bags in the desired portion size. So if you are buying a 1kg pack of chicken thighs, you can split them into two 500gm freezer bags right before freezing. This way you can only defrost the amount of meat you need.
Tips to freeze meat:
1. Freeze them immediately the day you buy it. Try not to store it in the fridge first before freezing it.
2. Remove meat from store packaging and store tightly in freezer bags.
3. When safely frozen, meat can stay in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Eggs cannot be frozen as it is. The white and yolks need to be separated and frozen in freezer bags. Alternatively, you can store boiled eggs if this works better.
Ginger and garlic are most commonly used when cooking meat. While you can get store-bought ginger garlic paste, the freshly ground ones taste a lot better.
Some might consider this a time-consuming task, so an alternative is to do a large batch of the paste and freeze it. You can split them into small portions and place them in ice cube trays and use required quantities when needed.
Most dinner recipes require the use of two main ingredients, oil and herbs.
Since fresh herbs wilt easily, you can freeze them together with butter or oil in ice cube trays.
Once they are frozen, you can transfer it into freezer bags to store.
Tips to freeze Cilantro:
1. Blitz cilantro in a bit of olive oil and pour it in ice cube trays to freeze. This is great when you are cooking meats.
2. If you just need to save the leaves, blanch them and separate the leaves before storing in freezer bags.
6. Homemade Stock
Another good use of the ice cube tray is to freeze homemade stock.
Whether you are cooking chicken, fish or vegetable stock you can certainly freeze them in trays and pop them into your cooking when needed. Just make sure to completely cool the stock before you pour them into the ice cube trays.
If you are freezing a larger pot of stock or stew you can consider using a freezer bag. Lay them flat in the freezer so they don’t take up a lot of room.
I promise you this is the last one for freezing in ice cube trays. There’s just so much you can do with these trays other than just using it for ice. And it is certainly great for milk in your tea or coffee.
Freezing a whole carton of milk is great, but if you are not going to need all of it when you defrost, try freezing milk in ice cube trays and use only the amount you need for your mornings.
8. Last day of Expiry
My favourite tip for preventing food waste is to wait until the last day the product expires before freezing it. This way you are not overloading your freezer with a lot of things you “assume” might need to be frozen.
I like to use the freezer as my last minute to save food from getting binned.
9. Easy Meals to freeze
Some handy quick meals that you can make and freeze are mash potatoes, lentil soup, chicken/beef curry, flatbreads, lasagne, meat pie, casseroles and stews.
This makes life so much easy!
10. Summer fun
If you have a habit of buying fresh berries, you can make your own fruit popsicles and freeze them, as a cool summer treats for kids. Getting the kids to choose their berries when making it, makes it more interesting for them, and its a guarantee they’ll eat it.