Still feeling the Covid-19 pinch on your purse strings? Me too. As the UK economy plummets into its deepest recession in more than three centuries, it’s imperative we adapt and adjust to a more economical mentality. Wasting food is wasting money and if, like me, your funds are dwindling before your very eyes, then learning how to get the most out of your freezer could help you pinch those pennies.
It may surprise you to know that you can freeze pretty much anything; eggs, rice, pasta, human heads and even cheese! I know right? Who knew you could freeze cheese? So, stock up on Tupperware and sticky labels, it’s time to get your freezer working for you.
The big Freezer guide:
Step 1. Have a good clear out and bin that two-year-old packet of fish fingers. Defrost the freezer if necessary – there’s no point having a clear out if there’s so much ice build-up, you can’t fit anything in your freezer.
Step 2. Purchase a roll of sticky labels and keep them near your freezer with a pen (I’ve had my roll of sticky labels for 5 years now and it’s still going strong). Every time you freeze something, write out a label stating what it is you’re freezing and include the date you cooked it. Trust me, you may know what it is now, but in a few months, you won’t have a clue what that brown stuff is in the mystery Tupperware.
Step 3. Cool food fully before freezing. Freezing warm food can raise the temperature of the freezer and cause other frozen items to partially thaw and refreeze.
Step 4. Consume frozen items within 3 months as over time the quality of food deteriorates and may affect the taste. This varies between foods, but three months is a good guide for leftovers in general.
So, what can you freeze?…
Freeze: Bread and cakes needs to be pre-sliced and wrapped well in plastic, foil or in freezer bag – ever tried tried slicing a loaf of frozen sourdough? I rest my case. Muffins, cupcakes and scones require individual wrapping in a few layers or cling film or foil.
Defrost: At room temperature or in the fridge (in warmer climates) or toast sliced bread directly from the freezer.
Freeze: Wrap well and freeze in a freezer bag
Defrost: At room temperature and use that day.
Freeze: Cool cooked pasta, drizzle with oil and toss. Spoon into airtight containers or freezer bags for up to 2 weeks.
Defrost: Directly in boiling water or tip into a simmering pasta sauce until piping hot.
Freeze: Over-ripe bananas in their skins in a plastic bag for up to 6 months.
Defrost: In a bag in the fridge. Slide straight out of the skins into cakes or pancake batter.
Soups and stews
Freeze: Leave to cool fully before transferring to an airtight container. If using glass, leave a 3/4-inch space between the top of the food and the lid – you don’t want it exploding. Label with the date and consume within 3 months.
Defrost: In the fridge before heating thoroughly and consuming.
Freeze: Freeze fresh eggs for up to one year. Simply beat together and pour into a small Tupperware and freeze. Eggs frozen this way are great for using in cakes – I tend to freeze two at a time, as most recipes tend to require two eggs – don’t forget to label your Tupperware with how many eggs you have frozen. You can also freeze egg whites, simply separate from the yolks and pour into a Tupperware or ice cube tray. Egg yolks can’t be frozen due to the gelation property of the yolk, causing it to gel and thicken when frozen.
Defrost: In the fridge and use in baking or for scrambling.
Freeze: Cool the rice quickly by removing it from the pan and spreading out on a baking sheet. After 10 mins, portion out into freezer bags and label with the date. Use within one month.
Defrost: In the fridge and use within 24 hrs. Always serve piping hot.
Freeze: Grate the cheese and pack it in an airtight container or bag. Use within 9 months.
Defrost: In the fridge and use in cooked dishes and cheese sauces.
Freeze: In an airtight container or plastic bag. Flour does have a ‘use by’ date so freezing it is a great way of not wasting it.
Defrost: No need! Flour can be used straight from the freezer. Magic!