Running a busy household I have a picked up a few tips on how I can run our kitchen more efficiently and saving us money at the same time. One of these tips I have learnt is that a lot of food we don’t normally think about can be bought in bulk (saving money) and can be frozen (saving time when cooking and food waste). You dont need to have a massive chest freezer to be able to do this either, I only have a fridge freezer which is a big enough size for what I need to freeze enough food to feed my family of 5.
- Tomatoes – Fresh tomatoes can be frozen ready to be added to soups, bolognese sauce, pizza topping and lots more. To freeze your tomatoes, wash and quarter them before placing them into a reusable freezer bag. When you are ready for your tomatoes just take out the amount you need and defrost. (Please note when your tomatoes defrost they are all mushy)
- Bananas – If you like making smoothies for breakfast or as a quick snack on the go bananas are great frozen as you don’t need to defrost them first and you can use the exact amount you need for your smoothy with no waste. To freeze bananas you need to peel them and then slice up to whatever thickness you would like. (Sometimes I freeze bananas in halves) Then lay your slices out on to a tray, fast freeze before adding to a reusable freezer bag and adding them into your freezer draw ready for your next smoothie.
- Grapes – Grapes are great to freeze in the summer months as they make a lovely cold treat for our children instead of icelollys and icecream. (From experience they are better to eat while frozen as they go very mushy once they are defrosted) To freeze grapes pick them off their stalks, wash and then add them to reusable freezer bags.
- Lemons – I use lemons a lot to make to make lemon tea or lemon and ginger tea. You can either freeze lemons in slices with the peel still on in reusable freezer bags or you can juice them and add the juice to ice cube trays. Then once the juice is frozen empty your lemon cubes into a reusable freezer bag for individual lemon juice portions.
- Summer Berries – Pick your own summer berries and freeze them straight after you have picked them ready to be used for berry sauce, jam, smoothies and fruit pies. To freeze your summer berries wash them thoroughly and place into reusable freezer bags. (If I do this ready for jam making I make sure I freeze each bag of fruit to the weight of fruit needed. So I can just lift a bag out of the freezer at a time.)
- Onions – Frozen chopped onions are great for when you are on a tight schedule to get a meal on the table. Peel and chop your onions then lay them out on a tray and fast freeze them. Once they have started to freeze place them into a freezer bag. (If you don’t fast freeze them you will have difficulty taking the right amount of onions you need for each meal out of the bag without having to defrost the whole bag.)
- Leafy greens – Leafy greens are great to add to soups, casseroles or smoothies. Blanch your leafy greens (to keep the goodness in them) and then portion them up to reusable icecube freezer bags.
- Milk – Freezing milk is a great way to assure you will never be short of milk if you don’t have it delivered by a milkman each day. Just pop your brand new bottle into your freezer. (when milk is frozen it looks yellow but once defrosted it returns to being white.) When you need you bottle of milk take it out the freezer and defrost (overnight is best) and then shake your bottle before you open and use.
- Cheese – I always keep a bag of grated cheese in the freezer to use when I am making pizzas or pasta dishes as it saves me time grating the cheese when I need it. (May I add I don’t buy it in grated form I buy it in block and then grate as this is cheaper.) Just add your grated cheese to a reusable freezer bag and take out of the bag the exact about you need for each meal. (Don’t freeze a block of cheese as when it defrosts it does not slice it just crumbles up into a mess.)
- Butter – Butter is easy to freeze and it does not change in consistency when you defrost it. Once you have used your butter fold up the foil / paper butter wrapping and place back into the freezer. When you are baking some cakes pull the wrappers out the freezer to line your cake tins.
- Garlic – You can either freeze garlic whole or sliced depending on how quick you would like to use it from the freezer. (I freeze mine thinly sliced ready to be finally chopped and added to my cooking.) To freeze garlic peel and freeze in a reusable freezer bag or peel and slice and freeze in a reusable freezer bag.
- Herbs – There is nothing like fresh herbs in your cooking but in the winter months your herbs have gone into hibernation in your garden and buying them fresh in the shops is expensive. So I freeze my fresh herbs from the garden through the summer months so I can still have fresh herbs during the winter months. To freeze fresh herbs chop them very small and place into ice cube trays, then add a little water on top and freeze. Once your herbs are frozen empty your ice cube tray into a reusable freezer bag. Then when you need to add some fresh herbs to your meal take out a ice cube and pop straight into your cooking without defrosting. The heat from your cooking will defrost them.
- Stock – I love making my own stock from chicken to vegetable. You can find out how I make my own stock here.
- Bread / Pizza Dough – I always have a bag of pizza and bread dough in my freezer ready to grab to make fresh bread rolls to go with my homemade soup or pizza for a meal. To freeze bread and pizza dough is easy, make the dough like you normally would up until the point after first rising and then roll your bread dough into roll shapes / pizza dough out into a circle shape and freeze. Once defrosted bake as you normally would without freezing. (You dont have to defrost your pizza dough before baking if you don’t want to.)
- Cookie Dough – Is great to have in the freezer to make a quick batch of cookies with the childrens for a cooking activity or for those unexpected guests popping in for a cuppa. Make your cookie dough as normal and roll into a ball, place into a reusable freezer bag and freeze.
- Freezer Meals – When I am cooking soups, casseroles, pasta dishes, cottage pie, fish pie and so on. I always make double the amount I need. Then I put in the freezer what I don’t need ready for that quick meal to pull out of the freezer when I’m rushed off my feet or I ‘m just too tired to cook. You can either freeze these meals in reusable freezer bags, used ice cream tubs or in another reusable airtight container.
Over to you, do you have any great food freezing tips that we can use to save money and time?