Freezing food can save you a whole lot of money. Have you ever noticed how bulk packs of food are often so much cheaper than smaller amounts? Or perhaps you’ve seen a ‘special’ and later regretted not buying more because the price went up dramatically straight afterward.
Fruit and veg are also cheaper in the season, but you still want many of the same staples out of season when they’re shockingly expensive. Veggie gardeners experience ‘feast or famine’ situations in which they have way too much fresh produce followed by the long wait until they can grow a new crop.
And then, of course, there are left over foods that go off if they’re not eaten up in time and perishables like eggs that shouldn’t be used after their sell-by date.
We explore the ways you can save using your freezer, and you’ll be sure to find at least one trick you didn’t know about before.
In this guide...
Nothing lasts forever, not even in the freezer, and a frosting of ice can make it difficult to tell just what’s in a container. Use these freezer basics for a cleverly organized freezer:
- Label products using an indelible marker pen or dry erase crayon. Say what they are, and add a ‘use by’ date.
- Plan your packing so you’ll always know where to find what you need. Freezer organizers can be very helpful!
- Consider organizing by use by date to avoid forgetting foods till it’s too late.
- Choose the right kind of containers. You want a good seal, or your food will spoil.
- Freeze strategically – your space isn’t unlimited, so ensure you have a selection of foods to choose from at any time.
How Long Foods Last in the Freezer
Calculate your use by dates to avoid waste. Here’s a list that should help you to label your food correctly:
- Raw meat and lean fish: on average 6 months
- Fatty fish, cooked meats, soups and stews, baked goods and dough: 2 – 3 months
- Raw chicken or turkey pieces, fruit or butter: 6 – 9 months
- Raw shellfish or hamburgers: 3 – 4 months
- Bacon: 1 month
- Ice cream: 2 months
- Hot dogs, lunch meats, and sausages: 1 – 2 months
- Whole raw chicken or turkey: 1 year
- Frozen veg: 8 – 10 months
Save with Smart Shopping Strategies
When you see a great special offer, particularly on meat, snap it up right away. Package it in portions as big as you’d use for the average meal and freeze.
Shop on a Saturday, and freeze on a Sunday, particularly when you will have to pre-cook or blanch foods before freezing. That way, they won’t have the chance to spoil before you get around to them.
Buy extra pineapples and berries in season and freeze for winter use. When freezing berries, make sure the outsides are dry before you put them in the freezer, and freeze them on a baking sheet before bagging. Otherwise, they tend to freeze in clumps.
Get Clever in the Kitchen
Cooking one big dish doesn’t take much longer than cooking a small one, so prepare extra and freeze. Although most people know they can freeze things like soups and stews, did you know you can freeze rice and pasta too?
Weekends are a great time to let your inner kitchen goddess come to the fore. In the week, when you’re work-weary, it’s just a matter of warming up a few things for a tasty supper. Whip up a batch of muffins over the weekend and freeze. Great for packed lunches.
Surprising Things That Not Everyone Thinks of Freezing
As we’ve said, freezing rice and pasta works, but it’s one of the things most people don’t even think of freezing. Here are a few more potential surprises:
- Beaten eggs (never in the shell). Ice them in an ice cube tray and then pop them into zip-lock bags. Easy!
- Grated cheese – you can freeze a whole block, but freezing affects the texture.
- Butter and margarine (especially if you get a special offer).
- Bread or wheat tortillas – just wrap them up well, so they don’t get freezer burn.
- Nuts don’t last long because the oils become rancid – but not if you put them in the freezer!
- Ripe bananas for baking and smoothies.
- Left over wine – pour it into an ice cube tray, then freeze in zip lock bags and use it in your cooking.
- Left over champagne – use your champagne ice cubes to liven up a glass of OJ.
- Freeze whipped cream dollops on a baking sheet and then store in a zip lock bag. Add them to coffee or hot chocolate as is.
- Grapes (same as freezing berries).
- Fresh corn on the cob – as long as it has its leaves and silk to protect it.
- Dollops of mashed potato.
- Herbs in water frozen in ice trays.
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