Numerous times over the past year, I've prepared dishes for dinner only to end up with way more than needed. I try as hard as possible not to throw any food away, although admittedly I've been guilty of this. It usually happens after keeping food in the fridge too long, where initially I'd planned to eat the leftovers within a day or two but it simply never happened.
This kind of waste is definitely avoidable with freezing being the most obvious option to preserve food for longer periods until we're ready to consume it. The trick is to know which foods can and can't be frozen. So bookmark this post as I'm sure many of you will find it to be a useful reminder in the years to come.
The items you can freeze don’t necessarily have to be something that you’ve cooked, they can also be produce in season which you would like to enjoy out of season. Regarding fruit and vegetables this article touches on what is about to come into season and how you can save money buying at the right time whilst eating healthily. By knowing exactly what you can freeze also gives you the option to buy in bulk ahead of time to save money. The list below provides a clear outline of these foods.
Note: If you miss the season, be sure to check out our Woolworths Online vouchers to make extra savings when they make codes available.
Cheese can be frozen without causing it to crumble as long as you let it completely thaw out before putting it back in the fridge. If you prefer cutting your cheese before you freeze it, make sure you add a tablespoon of corn-starch or flour to the bag and shake it to prevent clumping when it thaws.
A great idea to save on expensive Parmigianino is to buy a big block in bulk, grate it and freeze in a hooky bag, then when you need it simply extract a few table spoons for serving.
Freezing fruit can be a little trickier. The best way to do it is by placing each individual piece on flat parchment paper and allow them to freeze evenly spaced from each other. After freezing overnight you can then place them into ‘freezer bags’ for easier storage. Not freezing them like this will cause them to all stick together. This method allows you to buy fruit in bulk and freeze them down rather than buying that individual lemon for example and paying an unnecessary premium as a result.
If you’re a fan of baking and enjoy making an assortment of sweet and savoury pies, then rest assured that freezing them is definitely an option. If freezing a whole pie, be sure to cook it for at least an hour and half at 200 degrees before serving.
At the supermarket it's sometimes easier to just buy the double pack of corn to whack in the fridge before a barbie, however buying in bulk can really save you a load of money per unit. To freeze, simply place in the freezer without removing the ears, silk or husk. Then before your BBQ simply microwave them for 4-5 minutes before chucking them on top of your "man stove" for browning.
Flour & Grains
Naturally within flour and other grains live tiny parasites that if given warm enough temperatures for long enough periods will start to hatch. The best way to store flour and other grains is within the freezer. Flour is affordable enough so in order to prevent spoilage and wastage due to parasites, be sure to freeze it as it takes no time at all to defrost. Double bagging also prevents condensation and keeps out other food smells.
If you happen to spot tomatoes on special offer in the supermarket it’s always a great idea to stock up at low prices because most of us use them in numerous dishes. If you plan on freezing a load, an effective method is to firstly roast them with garlic, fresh herbs and olive oil for 4 hours at a low oven temperature before slinging them into freezer bags for later use. This leaves them a quick defrost away for chilli dishes or tomato-based sauces all year round.
Soups and Chilli
Leftover soups and chilli dishes are ideal for freezing. Ensure you provide enough time for the food to naturally cool before storing in Tupperware containers. Allow one cup of space for freezing expansion and make sure when removing from the freezer you leave in the fridge overnight for safe thawing. This is a great way to have lunch ready for later in the week without having to spend more money on buying lunch out.
Crisps, Crackers and Snacks
Savoury treats are always great snacks to have for when friends are over, so why not stock up when they are only special offer at the stores. Freezing them actually results in a slightly different taste when serving from frozen and helps the flavours pop in your mouth for a slightly different experience.
As with other fruits and vegetables, onions, chilis and peppers are much cheaper when bought in bulk. Grab these items the next time you see them on special offer, dice them up for freezer storage. That way you have them pre-cut for preparing future meals to reduce prep time while also saving you on the premiums you'd otherwise be paying for pre-chopped fruit/veg at supermarkets.
I never would have thought you could freeze eggs. Yet if you crack them into a bag or even into ice-trays they will keep for ages and simply need thawing out in the fridge before using as you would normally. This is ideal if you are going away on holiday.
This is one that often catches me out most months, where I buy a bunch of fresh herbs only to end up throwing away half of them due to heat related spoilage. Finely chopping up the herbs and placing them into ice-trays with left over stock or some water is a great way to keep the herbs fresh and readily available to apply to soups, stews, casseroles and other dishes.
The BBQ is my domain and I love to prepare the meats in different herbs and spices a day or two ahead of time to ensure the maximum amount of flavour is absorbed. However, sometimes people cancel or plans change and instead of forcing the entire family to eat meat for the next few days I’ve found freezing meats in freezer bags, fully marinated, preserves the contents perfectly until they're needed for grilling next time round.
Supermarkets obviously provide a number of frozen produce to pre-empt the above. However, you will find that these products tend to cost more, especially when it comes to frozen fruits. Avoid the additional costs by making purchases when items are on special and also do so in bulk quantities. Combining these tactics with freezing is a sure way to avoid over spending on food throughout the year and you'd be pleasantly surprised at just how much you can actually end up saving.