We all lead busy lives and as the country gets back to school, offices and activities we can find ourselves pinched for time when it comes to preparing meals. This can result in food we shop for not always being used, however freezing is a great way to make food last longer and avoid spoilage or food waste. StopFoodWaste.ie has given us some freezer food treasure tips on how to make the most of the food in your freezer, which will save you time, money and have a positive impact on the environment too.
The freezer is an often-overlooked tool that can make life easier for busy families. As well as storing frozen foods, we can freeze food up to its use-by date, batch cook meals and prep uncooked meals to freeze, and preserve leftovers such as cooked pasta, milk, cheese and even bread. Are you using your freezer to its full potential?
Freezer Food Treasure
Think of your freezer as a ready store of food. This convenience gives you the flexibility to have ingredients on hand to make meals anytime, e.g. add frozen mushrooms and peas to a tasty Shepherd’s pie. Or to store leftovers so you have a healthy ‘ready meal’ there for days when it is difficult to prepare a meal.
So, before your next trip to the supermarket, go to your freezer and make a list of what’s in there and plan a series of meals around the food treasure in your freezer. Eating the food in your freezer will save on your food bills and avoid food being thrown in the bin.
Tips to Make the Most of Your Freezer Food
With a bit of planning, the freezer can save us when everyone is on a different schedule and we can’t spend the time we’d like to putting together a family meal.
Keep Your Freezer Organised
It is a good idea to date and label what food goes in your freezer and to group ‘like with like’ food items e.g. keep frozen veg together. This will make it easier for you to see and find what you need in your freezer.
Batch Cook Meals for Freezing
Cooking extra of meals that the family enjoys and that freeze well is a great idea. You will have them ready for days when you are short on time but still want everyone to have a home-cooked meal – lets face it, we all have days like this!
Get help maximising the space in your freezer with these handy freezer storage tips from StopFoodWaste.ie
Keep a List
Make a list of what food is in your freezer, including the date it went in.
Keeping this list updated as you add and remove items in your freezer will help you to keep track of what you have – otherwise it might never be re-discovered!
First In, First Out
Try and use the ‘First in, First to be Eaten’ rule. When you look in the freezer, the first thing you need to see is the food you should eat first. So, new food items need to be placed behind ‘old’ ones in the freezer and wait their turn to be eaten.
Planning Is Key
Plan meals using food you already have in your freezer. This will save you money on your weekly food bills and avoid food being forgotten in your freezer.
Slow Cooker Meals
The slow cooker or crockpot is a handy gadget for days when you know you’ll be home late and still want to have a hot meal ready to enjoy. But have you considered preparing your slow cooker meals in advance and freezing them uncooked so that all you have to do is defrost the bag overnight and add the ingredients to your slow cooker before you go out?
Depending on the size of your freezer, you could prepare up to a month’s worth of slow cooker meals in this way and get all the prep work done in one go.
Defrosting and Re-Heating
Defrost food in a suitable container overnight in the fridge. Once it’s defrosted, it’s best to cook it as soon as possible.
Defrosted foods should only be refrozen once it has been cooked to above 75°C. It should not be refrozen more than once.
Make sure your freezer is maintained properly – this will ensure food is cooled properly and saves on electricity costs too.
Freezer Cook Out
Finally, have a freezer ‘cook-out’ every 3 months. This will ensure you use up what you already have in your freezer, as it doesn’t last forever.
Regularly using up the contents of your freezer to make meals will save you money and avoid wasting food.
These tips have been brought to you in association with:
You can find more tips on preventing freezing food safely and preventing food waste on stopfoodwaste.ie