Plan ahead and make the most of your freezer
Now that many of us are hunkered down at home for a bit, it means there’s (hopefully) more time to get on with all those jobs you’ve been neglecting.
So, in between work, putting up shelves, painting the hallway, tidying the garden, organising the cupboards, entertaining the kids while trying to persuade them they need to do some schoolwork (what’s a fronted adverbial?), cleaning the windows – yes, even those high ones, cleaning dirt from corners that haven’t seen the light since 1999 (probably just us) – and keeping everyone happy, the family is going to need feeding too.
Our advice? Plan ahead and make friends with your freezer. A little bit of effort and meal planning up front means you can kiss goodbye to expensive, calorie-loaded convenience food and ready meals for good – and free up time to get on with other things.
After all, what could be nicer than sitting down with the family and tucking into a ready-in-minutes, tasty, healthy, home-made meal that everyone loves? Of course, it’s not going to happen without a bit of work on your part. But that’s where your freezer comes into its chilly own. Prep, batch cook and freeze at the weekend and you can reward yourself and your family with a wealth of easy freezer meals for the week that will not only save you effort, but save you money too.
We’ve been home freezing experts for over 50 years – we even had our own Home Freezing Advisory Service for a long time, so we know a thing or two about freezing. Take a look at our hints and tips for getting the most from your freezer and start chilling.
- Always cool food you’ve cooked before freezing it. Putting uncooled food in your freezer increases the temperature and could cause other food to start defrosting.
- Don’t refreeze anything. When you’re batch cooking, only use fresh ingredients that haven’t already been frozen and defrosted.
- Divide multipacks of food like sausages and chicken breasts into smaller portions so you don’t have to defrost and cook the whole pack when you only want one or two bangers.
- Seal food well in airtight containers or freezer-safe bags to keep it fresh and protected against freezer burn. And keep cooked and raw food separate. Raw meat and fish on one shelf – preferably the bottom. Vegetables on another. Pre-cooked food and batch-cooked meals on another. This will also help you find everything more easily and quickly so the freezer door isn’t open for longer than necessary.
- Make larger batches and store individual meal-sized portions in separate bags or containers. That way, if the fusspots in your family don’t want what you’re having, you can still please everyone.
- Maximise freezer space by storing soups, stews and curries flat in reusable freezer bags or Soup ‘n’ Sauce Bags, which can then be stacked or lined up to save space.
- Label everything clearly to avoid those ‘what is it and how long has it been there?’ moments.
- Defrost food thoroughly before reheating and only reheat once. Do not refreeze either. You can defrost in your microwave, or pop frozen food in the fridge to slowly defrost the night before you want to use it.
- When reheating food on the hob or in the microwave, cook it all the way through and make sure it’s piping hot before serving.
- You can also freeze everyday essentials like bread and milk if you have gaps to fill. And grapes and soft fruits like strawberries and raspberries freeze really well. You can freeze bananas too – just peel them first.
We’ve got a huge range of boxes, bags and other accessories for freezing on our website. And you’ll also find hundreds of recipe ideas on our blog to give you food for thought on what you can create to keep your family well-fed every day.