Everything in your kitchen has a unique gift – scales ensure ingredients are at their perfect weight for those perfect bakes, microwaves save you in times of despair, even that waffle maker you thought you’d never use... okay, so maybe not every one, but you get the picture. With a magical ability to stop the clock and save food from the bin, the humble freezer is one thing we can’t live without. So, let’s thaw out its credentials and give it the warm round of applause it deserves.
Ice cube trays
Everyone likes a cold drink, but if you thought this was the sole purpose of these dainty little squares then you’ve been barking up the wrong tray. Leftover stock (and even herbs in olive oil) can be frozen, ready to pop in the pan next time you’re in need of no-effort flavour. For caffeine fanatics, create your own coffee cubes – perfect for warm-weather iced coffees – with any remaining granules. Melt creamy chocolate into an ice tray and drop into your next glass of milk for a treat (add a touch of vanilla if you fancy). Juices can be frozen then added to drinks, ensuring a refreshing temperature without diluting your beverage. Surplus pesto, tomato purée, butter and margarine can be portioned out and used for future dishes.
Sauces and soups
If you want to save time at the stove, whip up batches of sauces that can act as the base for a variety of recipes. Tomato and béchamel are the king and queen of adaptability; use in this tortellini, these caprese toasts or a classic lasagne. Portion out servings of barbecue sauce in tupperware for future grill sessions or save leftover chocolate, coffee and chilli dipping sauce as a sweet treat for some time soon.
Whether you’re preparing for the week or getting ahead with a dinner party starter, soups are easy to make and freeze in bulk. After a bit of a kick? Try this mushroom, coconut, chilli and ginger recipe or roasted sweetcorn version with chilli-lime salsa. And, if you have tomato sauce to use up, this tomato, roasted garlic and lentil soup will do the trick.
After a long day's work, when all you want to do is go home, chill and feast on food that requires minimal effort, a weekend afternoon dedicated to meal preparation, will offer you this. Pies are great for freezing in larger quantities (we especially like this steak and mushroom recipe with roasted vegetable mash or this comforting fish pie). Smaller dishes – we’re mad for lamb, spinach and pine nut parcels – freeze conveniently per portion and can be made in bigger batches as a fail-safe get-ahead for hosting a big crowd.
Fruit and vegetables
Organising your diet according to best-before-dates can be a little tricky and fruit and vegetables often become the fall guys for a slip in shopping preparation. The freezer is a great place for these nutritious superstars, with the new recommendation of 10 daily portions (you can find out what that looks like here) making it even more important to never see fruit and vegetables go to waste.
Begin the day as you mean to go on by opting for a smoothie that can be made from frozen fruit; this strawberry and almond recipe or green smoothie bowl make for brilliant choices.
Grapes are delicious frozen as a snack, or as edible ice cubes (and we’ve got plenty of other uses for grapes right this way).
Avocados have a bad rep for perishing too quickly. To avoid this catastrophe, mash the flesh with lemon juice and place in a sealable bag. It’ll last for up to two months and can then be defrosted for recipes such as avocado and coriander pesto bruschetta.
We’re all about making the cooking experience easier, more cost effective and less wasteful – check out our article on how to make your meals go further. Got some over-ripe fruit and stale bread to use up? Excellent, here’s what to do with them.