How The Freezer is My Weapon of Choice in The Battle Against Food Waste
I spend about a year trying to convince my friends to freeze their bread, after finding green, white, hairy unrecognisably moldy filled bags on countertops one too many times. Now that I’ve finally succeeded, it’s time for me to share my love for the freezer with the rest of the world and to “educate the crowd” (as TBYW always encourages people to do).
Leaving the warm and loving home of my parents to study in Amsterdam forced me to be responsible of my own grocery shopping. Not only did I have to start preparing my own meals, I also had to plan ahead and keep track of the food hidden in the back of my fridge. Leaving a loaf of bread on the kitchen counter did not nearly work as well as it did at home, there was no always-hungry brother to eat eight slices a day. I lived alone and after some time the bread went dry, a little later it got that lovely shade of green we all fear.
This unfortunate event helped me realise I could not live with green bread for the next three years. While they do sell half loafs of bread, even these were too much for me to consume within its life time. This is when the freezer came into the picture. I could buy full loafs (because this is cheaper compared to half loafs) without worrying about having to dispose it at the end of the week. Now each morning I take two slices out of the freezer, let it defrost for 10 minutes and I get to enjoy fresh tasting bread each and every time! If you simply cannot wait for the bread to defrost, don’t worry, you can always heat it up in the microwave, oven or toaster for a fast and delicious fix.
Unfortunately my struggles with rotten food didn’t end with bread. Grocery shopping for one person is difficult and often leads to more food than I can eat by myself. Again the freezer came to my rescue. After two years I consider myself to be a serious freezer expert (AKA I’ve become very skilled at stacking as much food as possible in my 16L freeze compartment). Therefore, I will now share exactly what can be frozen in order to save both food and money!
I love cheese, however consuming a whole block can sometimes be a challenge. When I know it’s towards the end of its consumption life-time I grate it up and put it in a bag in the freezer. The frozen cheese is still perfect for pasta or oven dishes. It is also possible to freeze entire blocks of cheese.
- Sauces and soups
When I cook and entire pan of pasta sauce, curry or soup, it lasts for days! However, eating the same thing day after day is a little boring as it lacks variety. I usually leave one portion in the fridge to consume within the next three days. The rest goes into portion sized containers and gets stacked in the freezer. Move the frozen container into the fridge the night before you plan to consume it and you’ve got yourself a home cooked meal the next day.
- Oven dishes
Oven dishes such as lasagne, mac and cheese or other casseroles can all go into the freezer. Again, I put these in individual portions and heat them up in the oven once they are defrosted.
- Baked goods
Pies, cakes, and cookies can be put in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Pastries and dough
Have left over shortcrust pastry? Want fresh cookies whenever you like? Leftover dough and pastry can easily be frozen for up to three months. Last week I made a tart with the same pastry I used for my birthday’s lemon meringue pie, note: my birthday is in February. If you want fresh cookies 24/7 you can freeze balls of cookie dough and bake them anytime you want. Just make sure you freeze them separately before you add them in a bag together so they don’t stick. Bake them approximately two minutes longer than you normally would for the best results.
- Broths and stocks
Like soups and sauces, this is also perfectly freezable. If you want to know more about making your own stock, be sure to check out this blog post by Sophie!
- Juice and smoothies
Lemon juice, apple juice, all juice, every juice. Freeze them! But not in a glass bottle, because liquids expand during freezing which can cause the glass to break.
- Fruits and veggies
Just like the cookie dough it’s best to first freeze it separately before adding it together in a bag. Frozen fruits are great for smoothies and ice cream! The vegetables might lose their crispiness in the freezer and become a little soggy, however, they are still perfect for soups, sauces, or green smoothies.
- Meat, fish and meat replacements
You can freeze this both cooked and uncooked.
- Milk and butter
This was a real discovery for me! Milk was the product that I had to discard most often, and that’s not a problem anymore. Just make sure you shake your milk well before you use it. I would also not suggest freezing milk if you plan to drink it. It’s best to use it for baked goods and pancakes after it has been frozen. You can just let the butter defrost in the fridge and it should be good to go.
What would my list be without bread? All breads can be frozen; also baked items such croissants can go into the freezer. And the best part is, if you freeze it when it’s fresh, it will taste fresh when you take it out!
Some (in my opinion) important food items you should not put in the freezer:
- Yogurt and sour cream
These two products completely change texture in the freezer, not very nice.
Due to their high water content, freezing uncooked potatoes doesn’t work very well; however, mashed potatoes or potato curry can definitely be frozen.
While it may have taken me a year to convince my stubborn friends, I hope many of you will be convinced right away. Give the freezer a chance by freezing at least one item on the list that you’ve never frozen before, the benefits may surprise you!
Finally, for the longest time I believed that items could not be frozen twice. While this is true for many things, such as raw meats etc. This is not true for bread! Even though it may become drier every time you freeze it, it can definitely be refrozen. Besides, dry bread is perfect for those amazing bread balls we all love so much. So what are you waiting for? Love your freezer and freeze, freeze, freeze!