We all understand the basic use of a freezer. It, well, freezes food and extends preservation, that much is obvious. However, where most people stop at ice cream and frozen peas, there are actually loads of food items you can freeze to ensure you have a world of dinner options available when you get home during the week. Stick with us and we’ll show you how to use your freezer like a pro.
We all know the benefits of a well-stocked pantry and fridge, but the reality is that sometimes we get home and there’s nothing exciting in either of those places. This is where your freezer steps up to the plate. Using your freezer smartly means you’ll always have something appealing to eat when there’s nothing else in the house – it’ll just need a quick defrosting.
And, as we know, some things only get better once they’ve cooled, such as curries and chilli, as the flavours have had more of a chance to develop.
What can you freeze?
The real question is what can’t you freeze? We all know the basics of sensible freezing, such as doubling a batch of a soup or stew to freeze half of it for later. But this is minor-league freezing.
I’ve now gotten into the habit of making everything everything into as large of a portion as I can, just to be able to freeze some for later. My current obsession is a tomato sauce for pasta that then becomes the base for a ragout, or even pizza when the mood strikes.
Similarly, freezing things to become part of another dish is also quite handy. For example, frozen ricotta will never be good as is once defrosted, but it can be crumbled and beaten lightly to be added to a cake, or you can add some spinach and sun-dried tomatoes to turn into a pasta shell stuffing.
An entire meal in the freezer
Go beyond a big batch of soup and think about the dishes you crave during the week. Love making your own fishcakes but find it to be too much work on a weeknight? Make a whole load, crumb them and then freeze them. Once you’re ready to eat them, just fry them gently until the breadcrumbs are crisp and then pop them in the oven to continue heating through.
Another great idea is stocking your freezer with items that can be thrown together to make a tasty yet wholesome meal. We all keep frozen peas for a kick of health, but they can also be turned into a speedy soup. Want a bit of meat in that? Bacon is an excellent freezer item, so fry off a couple of pieces and in no time you’ll have a pea-and-bacon soup.
Brownie point freezer items
Want to go up a level? Here are the things to freeze that will make you feel like a domestic god or goddess.
- Either make or buy a large batch of bread dough, divide it up into roughly fist-sized portions, then store it in plastic containers or sandwich bags and freeze. The result? Pizza any time you choose! All you’ll need is a little tomato sauce (which you also ideally froze, although a few smushed tinned tomatoes also work well in a pinch). Top with some low-moisture mozzarella (which also freezes well!) and you’re on to a winner.
- Another favourite is cookie dough, so the next time the baking bug hits you, don’t bake off all 18 cookies that the recipe promises – unless you actually can eat all 18 in one sitting or want to share with your friends. Simply bake off the number you think you’ll eat and pop the rest into the freezer for later. For ease, either portion them into balls or roll the dough into a long log, ready to be sliced before baking.
- Can’t eat your fresh sourdough fast enough? Just buy a loaf, slice it up, wrap it up tightly and and pop it in the freezer to make everyday toast feel that bit fancier.
- Vegetable offcuts like onions, carrots and celery can be thrown into a stock base at a moment’s notice.
- Parmesan rinds can also be popped into the freezer, which can act as a great flavour booster for soups, stews and pasta sauces.