I'm a big fan of the freezer. We have alot of freezer space so I'm lucky but even if you just have that small bit at the top or bottom of your fridge you can also utilise it well.
Why love the freezer?
The freezer is your shop. We live semi-rurally so it's a twenty minute trip if we run out of the basics but I think everyone should load the freezer with bread, milk, and butter. It's also the same trip for us to get takeaways so we have pizza bases, pastry and various jars of things I can use to make a quick meal.
I freeze instead of bottling. We don't have an excess of produce on our property yet and I haven't got my head around bottling sauces and preserving so I just freeze the various bits I do have in excess.
I hate food waste. There are lots of things that could end up being thrown out - I freeze them before they spoil.
Get prepared. There are so many ways to save time on food prep. Cook double the amount you need of a meal and freeze some. Buy meat in bulk on special, portion it up and freeze it. See more tips below.
Here's twelve things that are easy to freeze
Eggs. If you've got your own chickens, you'll experience that short lived glut of too many eggs. Freeze some for scrambled eggs. Watch my how to video below -
Half packets of stir fry sauces / curries. If your family doesn't use a whole cheaty packet of sauce in one meal (like us as a two person family) - use half then simply freeze the rest if you're not going to use it in the next few days. Fold the packet over and seal it in a zip lock bag.
Milk and butter. For some reason we often get low on milk but the dreaded early morning run to the supermarket can be avoided by freezing a 200-300ml jar. Just enough for coffee and muesli - pull the jar out the night before. Butter freezes perfectly and it means it's there, not only if you've run out for everyday use but for a sudden baking urge. (ok - I don't have that but I'm sure some people do).
Tomato paste and coconut milk. It's more economic to buy larger sizes of these but once opened they don't last too long in the fridge and the tomato paste can start to spoil. That is one of my ultimate food waste hates! However, they both freeze well. Depending on how much you use in a meal either freeze the partially used jar (tip the tinned coconut milk into a glass jar) or put it into ice cube trays (see note below*).
Lemon or lime juice. If you're lucky enough to access fresh lemons or limes and have too many in the winter/spring months there are various ways to freeze these.
Juiced and frozen into ice cube trays - a cube or two is great to pull out to use in cooking. *
Juiced into a jar (s). A jar of juice will keep for ages in the fridge. We love ceviche fish and in the peak of summer we don't have heaps of lemons so having small jars of juice in the freezer is perfect. Be optimistic and pull a jar out when hubby heads out fishing.
Sliced free flow**. Whole lemons or limes don't freeze well but you can lay slices on a tray in the freezer and transfer to a jar or container once frozen. Pull out for gin, vodka or non-alcoholic drinks. Or cocktails.
Berry fruit and feijoas. Whether home grown or bought - strawberries, feijoas and other berries can be frozen whole if you don't eat them before they start spoiling. Freeze them free flow** Texture wise these aren't suitable to use as a fresh fruit once defrosted as they will be a bit mushy but are fine in smoothies or baking.
Bananas. These can over ripen so quickly. Peel, break into large chunks and freeze in zip lock bags or containers to use in baking or smoothies. Pull out to defrost prior to use - they will look brown, wet and gross but taste fine and work just the same as fresh bananas in baking recipes.
Veggies. Raw celery, mushroom and tomatoes can be sliced into chunks and frozen. Cherry tomatoes can be frozen whole. They won't need too long to defrost prior to using - they can even go frozen into a stew or soup if you forget to get them out in time. As with fruit - they won't be any good to use fresh in a meal as they go mushy when defrosting.
Parmesan cheese. If you don't get through your block of cheese quick enough you can freeze a portion of it. I do this when I look at my block and it's starting to get a bit funky. I hate waste. Pull the chunk out from the freezer and grate it from frozen.
Ginger. Of course you can grate up your ginger, mix it with minced garlic and do all sorts of things to not waste it but you can also cut it into two or three pieces and simply freeze those. That knob of frozen ginger grates easily into a meal.
Pulses. Chickpeas, kidney or other beans. The most economical way to use them is to buy them dried (organic is best), soak with apple cider vinegar for several hours and cook. That's alot of forethought and time involved. Prepare these every few months and make excess. Freeze in an appropriately sized jar your family would use. Pull a jar out in time to defrost to add to a meal. If you don't, remember to take the lid off the jar before defrosting in the microwave!
Cooked meat. If you get a whole cooked ham at Christmas or do lamb on the spit as we sometimes do there can be too much meat and you soon get sick of eating it. Both freeze well. Cut into good sized chunks rather than slicing up and wrap (eg into evil plastic bags) then to avoid freezer burn I put the bags into another bag or container. Just label the outside of that one. Defrost naturally rather than microwaving. Use the cooked meat in sandwiches or salads. The cooked lamb can go into stir fries or stews - it just needs to be heated right through rather than cooked all over again.
*freezing in ice cube trays. Tomato paste, lemon and lime juice and coconut milk can be poured into ice cube trays. Once frozen transfer the cubes to a glass jar and label. (They can be left in the trays in the freezer but will start to take on those freezer smells.)
** free flow freezing - lay fruit (eg boysenberries or lime slices) out on an oven baking tray and slide into the freezer. After several hours they will be frozen - transfer into a suitable container.