Now, I have a small flat and don’t have an extra freezer or anything – just a good-sized four drawer freezer under my fridge. And I’m certainly not someone who has mastered the once-a-month cooking thing. But I do love my freezer and have learned a thing or two about using it to lower grocery bills, so decided to share a few thoughts with you below.
1. Make double batches
This almost goes without saying. If you can’t muster up the enthusiasm for cooking specifically for the freezer, you can certainly make double or triple batches of soups, stews and pasta sauce when you’re cooking them anyway. I did this on Monday, when I made four portions of mushroom stroganoff and six of veggie chilli. After all, having a freezer well-stocked of home made ‘ready meals’ means you’ll have way less temptation to get an expensive takeaway after a long day at work. My tip is to freeze in the portions you’ll use them in – so because I mostly eat soup at work, for lunches, I freeze in individual portions. No point freezing six portions in one tub if you live alone and rarely have company.
2. You can freeze more than you think
When I was younger, I mostly used my freezer for soup or food I’d bought frozen. I think I was really worried about what you could freeze and assumed most things wouldn’t fare well – like soup with milk or cream in it, which actually defrosts and reheats fine. Now I assume most items are freezable – obviously not fresh salad leaves and things like that, but almost everything can be frozen in some form or another. For instance, this allows me to only ever buy whole chickens and cut them up myself, freezing the legs one one food bag, the wings in another (I keep these until I have enough wings for a meal for me and Mr Chilli), the breasts in a third and the carcass in a fourth. If I use the chicken to make a roast instead, I pick off all the meat while still a little warm and freeze in a tub, freezing the bones in a bag until I next make stock. If I have any odds and ends of bread that might go moldy, I whizz in the food processor and freeze in a bag, meaning that I always have a bag of breadcrumbs in there. You can even freeze cubes of wine, stock and cream in ice cube trays to add to casseroles later on.
3. Don’t make your freezer into a food graveyard
While you can freeze most things, there are some things you should never freeze. Specifically, don’t freeze something just because you don’t like it and feel guilty about wasting it. It’s not going to get nicer with age. As an example, I tidied out my freezer last weekend and chucked three portions of coconut rice which I’d stuck in there because I made a big batch and then Mr Chilli hated it. I didn’t mind it too much but it never made it’s way into a meal because there’s always something more tempting available. If you don’t like it now, there’s no point storing it for six months only to then throw it out.
4. Label everything
The last thing you want is to reheat some lovely warming soup for your lunch and then realise it’s actually bolognaise sauce. Ok, you can make a sandwich with it, but it’s still annoying. Make sure you label everything – I use sticky address labels and write on the name of the food and how many portions if it’s more than one – best practise is to be super organised and write the date, too, though I rarely bother.
Grocery Spending (new total £136.34
2 naan breads - 59p