We all have the best intentions of cooking from scratch for our families, but it can take half an hour to just prep the veg you need for a meal, and that’s before you’ve started cooking. But nowadays there are plenty of time-saving solutions which mean you can serve up freshly cooked meals every night, and it won’t be at 10pm.
We’re not talking about small packets of fresh noodles, and plastic tubs of ready-made stock, as they’re never cost effective. We’re talking about the amazing array of products you can find in the freezer aisle.
That’s right, eat up that casserole from last year lurking at the bottom of your freezer and make room for these time-saving products that our food editor Gregor McMaster couldn’t live without…
Edamame soya beans
You may have never heard of these before, but for Gregor, they are a fantastic addition to your freezer. The young, green soya bean is also called edamame and you can use them in the same way you would use peas – the main difference is that they’re a source of protein. This means, even if you’re in a hurry and you don’t want to cook meat, you can add these to your meal and know you’re getting a hit of protein.
Gregor says, “These are fantastic to pop last minute into Oriental-style broths and soups for added veg. Not only that, they instantly make a dish look fantastic.”
Fun fact: They are what soy sauce is made from!
Frozen butternut squash chunks
Who has time to cut up a stubborn butternut squash on a busy weekday? Not us. Gregor loves these frozen ready-chopped squash chunks. He says, “I use this to blitz up into a pasta sauce such as carbonara - it means I use less cream and still get a silky texture.”
So not only are you saving time, you’re saving calories, too!
These are also great for curries, soups, roasting alongside sausages, and having cold the next day in a salad.
Frozen chopped garlic
Garlic makes everything taste better, but it’s one of the most labour-intensive ingredients around. Enter – frozen chopped garlic. The packet says, ‘No chopping, no mess, no fuss’ and we are very much on board with that.
And according to Gregor, it’s great when you're entertaining guests. He says, “I always have this on standby especially if I have guests round and I don’t want to smell of garlic! You can also make an impromptu garlic bread for unexpected visitors.”
Frozen stir-fry vegetable mix
Stir-fry mix is NOT just for stir-fries! “These cook from frozen,” says Gregor. “I use them along with frozen sausages and frozen onion to make a tray bake or sausage casserole with minimal effort.”
The stir-fry pack, which is a fraction of the price of its fresh counterpart, contains carrot batons, beansprouts, red onions, sugar snap peas, baby corn, water chestnuts, mushrooms, yellow peppers and red peppers – and all for a fraction of the cost of a fresh pack. This is a game-changer, and a massive time saver.
Frozen mashed potato
Is there anything more annoying than peeling potatoes? Especially enough for a family. Frozen mashed potatoes will save you so much time if you want to serve up bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie or a nice warming chilli for the family.
Gregor says, “I use frozen mash if I want to make a meal in the evening as quickly as possible. You can save yourself precious minutes if you’ve got hungry mouths to feed and need something on the table asap.”