In 2015 I decided to research and try out the most simple and useful sounding tips for making the most of the freezer. Here are my tried and tested favourites – they definitely save money and waste (and sometimes future time too!)
* Freeze almost anything and for up to three months.
* Freeze food from the fridge right up to the ‘Use By’ date (ignore supermarket packaging which says ‘freeze on day of purchase’). Knowing this has made a big difference to my food waste!
* Defrost food overnight in the fridge then use within 24 hours, or defrost in the microwave at 50% power (as long as in microwave safe container). Dishes like lasagne and cottage pie freeze well. Certain things can be cooked straight from frozen.
* Freeze food in freezer bags, foil, clingfilm or freezable containers.
* Chop up and freeze leftover fruit in a freezer bag.
* To make a smoothie or ice lolly, combine banana, apple juice and any leftover chopped fruit and whizz in a food processor. Either drink or pour the mixture in to ice lolly moulds and freeze.
* Over-ripe or excess bananas? Peel, chop and freeze in a freezer bag, then whizz in a food processor for between 2-5 minutes. Keep scraping the banana off the sides and add a little water to loosen up if necessary, and the banana transforms in to creamy ice cream – it’s amazing! Great with honey and chopped nuts on top.
* For other ice cream flavours, whizz some chopped frozen fruit with yoghurt and honey.
* Freeze old grapes and sliced lemons to use as pretty ice cubes!
* Fry chopped ageing veg then add tinned tomatoes, a stock cube, garlic and dried herbs. Freeze in portions in freezer bags to use as pasta sauce.
* Grate leftover potato and/or parsnips, dry by squeezing in a tea towel then add mixed herbs. Heat oil in a pan and add the veg, packed tightly, to make a giant potato or parsnip rosti. Fry the bottom and grill the top. Freeze in bags then heat in pan again from frozen. Eat with an egg on top!
* Chop leftover herbs and put in to ice cube trays with a little oil then freeze. Scoop them out and use them straight away in cooking.
* Chop herbs and put in a freezer bag to use later as a fish rub or in stews/salad. No defrosting necessary.
* Combine chopped herbs with butter, lemon zest and garlic and roll in cling film to make a big sausage shape that you can slice. Great for garlic bread and on top of fish!
* Freeze bread (pre-chopping if necessary) to make it last longer. It only takes 40 minutes for a slice of bread to defrost (or 30 seconds on full power in the microwave). Frozen bread can be toasted straight away. Homemade breadcrumbs should be packed flat, put in freezer bags and can be used later on gratins/bakes and to pad out burgers and fishcakes (no defrosting necessary). Leftover tortilla wraps can be folded and frozen in freezer bags then defrosted for about an hour before eating.
* Leftover, going stale scones can be frozen then warmed in the oven for 10 minutes before eating. Banana bread can be sliced in to portions then frozen in bags. Take it out in the morning and it will have defrosted by lunch!
* Pour leftover wine (a rarity in my house) in to ice cube trays to use in cooking.
That’s it! I hope you find these tips as useful as I have. Thank you to the Jamie Oliver, Kitchn and Love Food Hate Waste websites for many of them.