Waste Not, Want Not - Freezing Meals
Cooking from frozen food has three advantages over eating out: it saves you time, money, and gives you greater assurance of healthfulness, which is so important to feed growing children and for your own wellbeing. Freezing a meal preserves its flavours and textures without additives, and you can control what goes inside it.
- Portion appropriately as you should not refreeze foods that have been defrosted. Flash freezing, where you freeze items quickly and individually before repacking them, can save you time and reduce waste in the long run. It is particularly useful for freezing fruits and vegetables.
- Invest in some good containers that are vapour and moisture proof. Try and have both rigid and flexible containers on hand, such as plastic containers, freezer bags, and aluminum foil.
- Label all your foods: what it is, when it was frozen, and what needs to be done to it before it’s ready to eat. A little bit of hassle that will help in the long run!
Before going on to meals, let’s look at foods that freeze well.
- Meats are best frozen raw and will last for up to a year. If you are freezing cooked meat, consider freezing it sliced or shredded and keep it for no longer than 2 months, although it will last slightly longer in a sauce, broth. Cured meats such as ham and bacon are high in salt and fat tend to go rancid more quickly, so freeze with caution and for up to 1-2 months.
- Most vegetables are good for freezing, except for watery vegetables like lettuce and bean sprouts, which will get watery. Chopping and freezing spring onions is a particularly good way of keeping them fresh, since I find that I can never finish the bunch fast enough. Overall tips: vegetables should be blanched and cooled before being frozen so they don’t brown; don’t thaw vegetables, use them frozen.
- Raw eggs removed from their shells can be frozen but should be mixed with a bit of salt or sugar so that they don’t become rubbery.
- Cheese and herbs can be frozen but tend to lose their texture, so they should be used only for cooking and not as a garnish.
- All sorts of breads and baked goods are suitable for freezing, and can be quickly put to use as breakfasts and snacks.
Finally, here are some meals that freeze really well.
- Soups, stews, and curries: tips on how best to freeze soup.
- Sauces: both a lentil ragù and meatballs freeze well and are a hearty side to any pasta or carbs.
- Gratins: high on the list of comfort foods, gratin comes in many forms. A fennel gratin, comforting cauliflower & bacon pasta bake, and a version of mac and cheese with vegetables snuck inside are just some of many options!
- Pies: similar to gratins, a fish pie and a solid shepherd’s pie.
- Tortillas: great for lunch, try a classic burrito wrap, chicken taquitos, or give the meal an Asian twist with these lettuce wraps! These hummus quesadillas are a yummy vegan option.
Why not get more ideas and read another Wase Not, Want Not article on Upcycled Meals?
Thanks to our volunteer Jodi Chiang for this article