10 uses for your freezer other than frozen dinners

Planning is freedom. Freezing ingredients save money, time and taste buds.

Credit: Flickr / stevendepolo

Use your freezer wisely

Freezing ingredients for quickie meals on lazy/busy days saves money, uses less packaging and tastes way better than settling for a frozen TV dinner

The other week as I was fishing around in the bottom of my freezer, I had a small moment of satisfaction as I reflected on the bounty of useful things that my freezer held.

Some foods don’t survive well in the freezer or are less than ideal when defrosted. But some foods do great. Use these 10 tips to make your life easier by helping to get the most out of your ice box.

Quickie rice

1. Cook more rice than you need. Put the extra rice in a freezer bag. Close the bag (squeezing all the air out) and push down with a chopstick to divide the rice into portion sizes. The rice is easily reheated in the microwave. This is an especially useful shortcut if you’re fond of brown rice.

Make stock easier

2. Dedicate a marked freezer bag each to “chicken bones” and “veggie scraps.” This way you can amass bones and scraps until you have enough (or enough time) to make a stock. Because the bags are dedicated to a particular food you can re-use them without worrying about cross-contamination.

3. Once you’ve made a stock, freeze it in a range of sizes. This way you can thaw as much or as little as you need. I find an ice-tray is a great way to freeze cubes of stock for sauces, or I can grab multiple cubes for a soup.

Fresh pasta, fast

4. Making fresh pasta can be time consuming and messy. Get better returns on your time by making large batches and freezing it. Drop the pasta straight from your freezer into the pot for a quick meal.

Dough: cookies, pizza and pastries

5. Instead of baking a whole batch of cookies, cook as many as you want and freeze the rest. Roll the dough into balls and lay them on a cookie tray in the freezer. Once they frozen they can be packed into a container. You can easily cook up a couple of cookies for unexpected guests. The frozen dough balls, “frozies,” are also a tasty, sugary snack.

6. Pizza and pastry dough can also be made in advance and frozen in balls or sheets for when you need it.

Easy-like-Sunday-morning breakfasts

7. Make yourself a big batch of pancakes, crepes, waffles or french toast to make relaxing weekend breakfasts more relaxing. Separate pancakes and crepes using parchment paper and seal in a container. French toast and waffles can be revived in the toaster. All others can be resurrected in a pan or in the microwave.

Dairy insurance

8. Milk and butter last well in the freezer. Having a frozen backup is especially useful for avoiding emergency trips to the supermarket on a Sunday morning.

Fast-defrosting meat

9. When freezing meat, make sure you divide it into meal-size portions so you don’t have to thaw large parcels. If possible lay the meat out as flat and evenly as possible (e.g. don’t stack steaks, but lay them side by side). This allows for even freezing and faster defrosting.

Extending the life of herbs

10. Herbs are expensive (if you don’t grow your own) and have a short shelf life. If you have some that are about to kick the bucket, try chopping them finely and mixing them with some panko. The panko helps to maintain the moisture level of the herbs. Grab the panko herb mixture to add a little extra flavour by breading fish, chicken or meat.

What other ways do you use your freezer?