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Like most moms, I have a bunch of must-haves for our family freezer.
I bet you do too.
And like me, I bet yours include chicken breasts, sausages, fish fingers, peas and ice cream 🙂
But the last few years I changed how I plan meals …
OK, so I didn’t use to plan at all …
whereas now I’ve got 12 NEW freezer essentials.
These 12 are my new must-haves, because week in week out, they save so much time and money.
They are my secret weapons for getting food on the table fast …
Plus they are totally cutting the amount of food we waste, which is just brilliant.
Time-saving freezer essentials
1. WEEKLY VEGETABLES CHOPPED
Washing and chopping veg takes so much longer than you think.
When starting dinner from scratch, it can be the straw that breaks this mama’s back!
And then I skip them and the vegetables end up a nasty soggy mess in the fridge.
So I try hard to wash, chop and freeze all the veg as soon as we get it home.
Freezing veg quickly actually retains more nutrients and straight from the freezer you can have them cooked or soup, smoothies and sauces made in minutes.
And it means nothing gets thrown out.
2. garlic and herbs
It’s so easy to waste fresh herbs unless you’re picking straight from the garden.
And it’s faff to cut up garlic, ginger and the like when you’re in a rush.
To stop the waste AND save time, cut them up and combine with either olive oil or softened butter, then flash freeze in an ice cube tray overnight before popping them into freezer bags.
When you need them just drop them in the pan.
3. slightly stale bread
Do you frequently find yourself throwing out the last few slices or crusts off the loaf?
I certainly do! And over the year it adds up to a lot of waste.
But if you get it in the freezer before it moulds with some as whole slices, some as breadcrumbs and some crouton sized, you can use it up in all sorts of recipes.
Slices are great for bread & butter puddings and french toast and eggy bread. Crouton sized bits can be toasted to top soups or just thrown in soups Italian style. And bread crumbs can be used for chicken & fish goujons and topping shepherds pies, moussakas and casseroles.
For emergencies, I also try and keep one breakfast’s worth of fresh bread frozen.
4. cooked potato
Our family loves mash and everything it goes in from shepherd’s pie to fish cakes and gnocchi.
But it is another time killer!
By the time you’ve to the spuds peeled, cooked & mashing you’re hitting 30 minutes.
If you boil up your biggest pan’s worth and freeze them in small portions slightly bashed, you’ll only need 5 minutes during the week to get them on the table or in a recipe.
Whilst you’re at it, cut some into chips & parboil them lightly before flash freezing.
5. pizza dough
Pizza dough is so easy to make but it does take time I haven’t got mid-week.
And if I am making one lot it’s as easy to double or triple the ingredients.
Defrosted it just needs a quick knead … you can let it rise a little if you really have time … and roll and you’ve got pizzas in the oven in less than 10 minutes and on the table in 20!
Pastry like pizza really doesn’t take time but it freezes so well and it’s so easy to make in bulk that it seems crazy not to.
And it means you can have pies, tarts & flans of all sorts in the oven in 10 minutes.
7. cooked fruit
Fruit puddings are a great way to ensure everyone gets their five a day and if you use the right fruit of lowering the GI of puddings but they are not quick.
Washing, peeling and chopping fruit in a hurry can just send me over the edge and have the whole meal an hour late and ruined.
But I find sitting down at the kitchen table with my daughter for half an hour on a Saturday and slowly chopping a whole load of seasonal fruit very soothing.
Cooked and frozen, it will save time and prevent all the soft fruit going to waste.
My daughter would eat pancakes for breakfast every day if she could and I’m happier if she goes out with a substantial breakfast rather than just toast.
But the chances of me getting the frying pan out every morning are a big fat zilch!
So it’s a good job they freeze so well!
You can either just cook up extras and freeze them or try this massive baked pancake recipe that will keep you going for ages.
9. tomato sauce
With bags of a great tomato sauce in the freezer you are minutes away from spaghetti bolognese, chilli, lasagna, arrabbiata and so much more …
Our tomato sauce also goes in vegetable shepherd’s pie with lentils.
And it’s a great chance to really save money by using up battered vegetables … our greengrocer is brilliant at selling “cooking” tomatoes and peppers which may look far from perfect but taste the best and cost only a quarter of the price of their shiny cousins!
10. ripe bananas
If you’ve got ripe bananas in danger of not being eaten just peel ’em, chop ’em & flash freeze ’em for 5 hours on a baking sheet covered in baking parchment before popping in a bag.
It stops the bananas being thrown out and lets you add small amounts to cereals, smoothies etc when the whole banana isn’t required.
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Luci is the founder of Mums Make Lists. She has written about all aspects of organising family life for ten years. Her main areas of expertise are family finance and budgeting, simplifying housekeeping and family admin and kids’ party planning. Read more.