Throwing too much food away each week? In reality, we probably waste a lot more food than we’d like to acknowledge. With a hectic schedule, it can be hard to remember what’s sitting at the back of the fridge until it’s out of date and in the bin. And this is a common problem, according to the Food Standards Agency, families are wasting £700 a year throwing out meals that they don’t think they can freeze, binning up to 6 meals a week!
Almost half of people think food should only be frozen on the day of purchase, when in fact it can be frozen up to the use by date
Freezers are often underrated. They were built for busy schedules and when utilised properly can save time, effort and money, so why are so many of us not using them properly? Banish freezer confusion with these simple dos and don’ts and fall back in love with freezing. Embrace the ease of digging out pre-prepared snacks, last minute meals and never having to do that desperate dash to the supermarket for dinner again. Not to mention you’ll save a ton of cash….
Do freeze the following: A lot of products get thrown away because we don’t realise we can freeze them. Heading off on holiday? Throw leftover milk and butter into the freezer and save it for when you get back. Other products that are definitely worth the freeze include: pastry, grated cheese, sliced bread, chillies, grapes, cakes, beaten eggs, white wine, crisps and pesto. All can be stored in your freezer and devoured at a later date.
Tip: Frozen grapes make a great snack and are also are fantastic for cooling down summer drinks without diluting them.
Do cook from frozen: If you’re always forgetting to take meals out of the freezer in the mornings, don’t fret – soups, casseroles, bakes, gratins, small fish, sausages and burgers can all be cooked from frozen, so you don’t need to buy something fresh. Start thawing at a lower temperature and then raise the temperature to cook and voilà, dinner is ready, on the table and any unnecessary expense is avoided.
Do freeze it on the sell by date: Almost half of people think food should only be frozen on the day of purchase, when in fact it can be frozen up to the use by date. So there’s no need to say a sad goodbye to that delicious lasagne you’d forgotten about.
Do veg out: Frozen veg doesn’t have to mean soggy veg. For maximum freshness and to maintain nutrients, blanche it for 30 secs in boiling water prior to freezing. Alternatively buying frozen veg is often cheaper, cuts down your prep time and is a great way of bulking up pasta sauces, curries or casseroles.
Do get creative: Save wilting herbs and over-ripe fruit from the bin by turning them into delicious flavoured butters and smoothie mixes. Fill icecube trays with homemade butters, or pesto from the jar to prevent mould, then simply pop a cube into any dish.
Do make a list: It sounds time consuming but making a list of what’s actually in your freezer will save you accidentally doubling up when you’re at the shops. After all, no one needs 9 packs of frozen garlic bread in their freezer….
Do fill it up: Keeping your freezer well stocked will actually help it run more efficiently, as it will stay cooler and use less energy. If you’ve got a lot of space, fill it up with items like bread or bottles of water.
Don’t freeze the following: Whilst it is true that almost anything can be kept in good condition by freezing, eggs, potatoes, salad greens, tomatoes, cream cheese, cucumber, yoghurt and ketchup are some of the exceptions. They don’t react well to freezing so best just to use them up in a quick midweek meal.
Don’t chuck it early: Supermarket packaging usually suggests only freezing products for up to 3 months, but most food can actually be preserved safely for years.
Don’t get freezer fear: Just because you’ve made a fab korma from frozen chicken strips doesn’t mean you can’t hang on to the leftovers and pop them back in the freezer. Previously frozen meat can be refrozen once cooked – just make sure you only refreeze once.
Don’t keep the packaging: Freezing products in their shop packaging can cause freezer burn and take up unnecessary space, so ditch the plastic for freezer bags or airtight containers before throwing it in the big freeze.
Don’t leave it too long: Don’t forget defrosted food should be eaten within 24 hours of being fully defrosted.
By Harriette Casey