Why the freezer is your friend

frozen berries

frozen berriesI’m a touch evangelical about my freezer; there are so many reasons why it’s so much more than a place to sling ice cream, fish fingers and peas.  Here are my top five reasons why you need to get better acquainted.

1. Nutrition

Freezing food is a totally natural way of preserving without using anything artificial.

Fruit and vegetables will be frozen soon after picking, so they keep their high levels of vitamins and freshly picked taste.

On the other hand, the stuff that ends up in the fresh aisle can sometimes take up to two weeks to get there by the time it’s been sorted, packaged and transported. In that time, the nutrient content will have dropped right off.

2. Environment and food waste

Keeping your freezer well stocked means it will run more efficiently and use less energy.

Also, things don’t really go off in the freezer so it’s a much more efficient way of cracking down on food waste in your kitchen.

Next time you have some leftovers don’t leave them to fester in the fridge, stick them in the freezer instead. If something’s getting close to its sell-by date, get it in the freezer quick.

3. Convenience

You can have fuss-free home cooked meals if you make some time on a rainy day to cook and freeze a batch of prepare-ahead dishes like lasagne or macaroni cheese.

You’ll reap the rewards next time you need to do a spot of unexpected entertaining.

If you don’t have the time to do loads of cooking then there are some great companies who do the leg work for you, like Cook who sell blast frozen ready meals. They make a great supper for a weeknight, but also take the pressure off if you’re catering for the masses as it’s really good quality home-style cooking. Treat yourself!

Individual portions of frozen pasta sauce are also a godsend if you’re hosting a playdate and everyone ends up staying for tea. You can either make a big batch yourself on a rainy day, or check out what’s on offer at your supermarket.

4.  Budget

Frozen food is often cheaper than fresh, so it’s always worth trying out the frozen ranges to see what’s good.

The other trick is to buy fresh food in bulk and then freeze it. Whether it’s stuff that’s about to go out of date, or three-for-two offers, just keep your eyes peeled and then get it straight on ice!

When you buy things like packs of four chicken breasts – separate them and wrap individually. This gives you the option of not having to defrost the whole lot if you don’t need them.

5.  Organisation pays off

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Invest in some decent stackable portion-sized pots from Lakeland for freezing leftovers in. It’ll make more effective use of the space in your freezer.

Label everything you put in it that’s not immediately obvious or you’ll end up having all kinds of mysterious meals like chicken stock instead of the casserole you thought it was.

You might even want to keep a list stuck to your freezer of what you have in it.

Buy less from the supermarket one week and have a few meals out of the freezer instead to create a bit of space and prevent keeping things for more than three months.

Freezer staples

  • Bread, rolls and crumpets – it means you’re never caught short for breakfast or lunch.
  • Ice cube trays filled with wine to add richness to sauces and stop you finishing off the bottle on a week night when you only intended to have one glass!
  • Butter mixed with fresh herbs then refrigerated, sliced and frozen in small portions to add a delicious dimension to a piece of grilled fish, steak or jacket potato.
  • Pre-make a few rounds of simple sandwiches, wrap individually, freeze and take out in the morning for a fuss-free packed lunch.
  • Ready-rolled frozen puff pastry is genius for knocking up an impressive looking sweet or savoury tart.

Are you making the most of your freezer? Share your comments below or send them to [email protected] with the subject line ‘Freezer tips’.