The Freezer is your Friend

I honestly can go on and on about how valuable freezer space is to me. Freezing my food has really helped the hubs and I save money and time. If we had another freezer, we would be able to save even more money (because then I would be able to freeze more things). Unfortunately, we live in a rental and can’t choose the type of fridge we have. My freezer has a decent amount of space, but to me it’s still not enough!

In the past I was really scared/unaware of the tremendous amount of things you can freeze. As such, there was a lot of food wastage, especially when I was a grad student living on my own. When I started freezing things, food wastage decreased tremendously. Freezing things also preserves the “freshness” of the food so you don’t have to worry about compromising taste or texture. However, there are some foods that do not freeze well, so it’s important to take note of those foods. The Kitchn has a helpful guide here.

The inside of my freezer

The inside of my freezer

The side door of my freezer

The side door of my freezer

I’ll start by listing down foods that are usually in my freezer:

  • Butter – butter freezes extremely well and since the price of butter is going up, I stock up when it’s cheap. I usually buy my butter from Costco. To thaw butter, transfer butter from the freezer into the fridge the day before use. There are some recipes where frozen butter is helpful, for example, when you make pie and tart crusts.
  • Bread – the hubs and I bake our own bread (not using a bread machine) about once every two weeks. We then slice the bread and freeze it. To toast, just take the frozen bread out of the freezer and pop it into the toaster oven or toaster. If the bread is stuck together, I usually pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds or so, break the bread apart, then toast the bread. The bread tastes fresh and yummy. I also have a stash of white store-bought bread in the freezer for the occasional recipe that calls for it.
  • Cheese – we buy some cheese in bulk (e.g., cheddar, mozzarella), cut them up into 1 pound chunks and freeze them. I usually don’t pre-shred the cheese as I find they tend to clump together. Something I just learned (from a cheese factory visit and contrary to the Kitchn article posted above), you can also freeze soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert. To thaw, transfer to fridge the day before use. Some cheeses might need more time in the fridge to thaw. I also keep my cheese powder in the freezer.
  • Bacon – One can never use up the whole packet of bacon unless you are cooking for a crowd. As such, I usually package the excess bacon into small packets and freeze them. If I need any bacon for cooking (e.g., carbonara), I simply take out one pack (approx. 2 slices) and defrost it in a bowl of water. It will be ready to use in 15 minutes.
  • Meat & Seafood – chicken, beef, pork, fish, prawns, etc. I freeze it all. We usually try and buy our meat in bulk or when it’s on sale. We portion it out, weigh the meat and label the bag  accordingly before freezing. Be sure to also write the date of freezing. To defrost, the correct way is to transfer to the fridge the day before. Some meats need more time. The quickie way (if you didn’t plan ahead) is to submerge it in water. Ensure the meat is fully submerged though as the meat tends to float to the top. I also have a stock bag of bones in the freezer. I use those bones to make stock.
  • Baked goods – I freeze baked goods like scones, muffins and biscuits. In that way, you don’t have to eat them all at once. Once reheated, they will also taste nice and fresh.
  • Dough – You can also freeze cookie dough and pizza dough. I recently used up a pack of frozen pizza dough. Again, to thaw, transfer to fridge the day before.  However, some cookie doughs can be baked from frozen.
  • Frozen veggies – I don’t freeze my own veggies, I buy them. Frozen veggies can be notorious for tasting horrible so it’s worth it to buy something decent and good. I like the frozen corn, peas and French beans from Trader Joe’s. I also sometimes have frozen spinach on hand.
  • Aromatics – You can also freeze ginger, lemongrass, curry leaves, kaffir lime leaves, fresh tumeric, and pandan leaves. Cut them into ready to use portions and freeze.
  • Coconut milk – In my freezer I have powdered coconut milk and fresh coconut milk (from can) that I have frozen in cubes (1 tablespoon increments).
  • Yeast – Yeast keeps very well in the freezer.
  • Stock – I rarely make my own stock because I found a decent bouillon alternative. Also, frozen stock would take up precious space in my freezer. However, there are times I have excess homemade stock (case in point – my Parmesan broth) and I will freeze that for later use.
  • Sauces – Sometimes I freeze excess tomato sauce for future use. I use this recipe to make a basic sauce and always freeze the leftovers.
  • Leftovers – There are certain foods that freeze well. For example chilli, lasagna, waffles, pancakes, pizza, dal, curries, meatballs, etc. I will elaborate more on these foods and how I freeze them in a later post.
  • Frozen fruit – I usually have some frozen berries or other fruit in the fridge for smoothies.

Things I generally DO NOT freeze:

  • Milk – Some people say you can freeze milk, I prefer not to. I’ve had bad experiences freezing milk as the ice crystals don’t thaw well producing a weird texture and taste. I read recently that you can freeze whipped cream with decent results.
  • Vegetables with high water content – Because of their high water content and the fact that our freezer is not a high-tech one and as such, no “flash-freezing” capabilities, veggies like cucumbers, celery and salad leaves will not freeze well.
  • Leftovers – There are certain leftovers that aren’t worth freezing, you should just eat them up ASAP.
  • Certain cheeses – In general, soft cheese like cream cheese and cottage cheese should not be frozen as it affects the texture and possibly taste of the cheese. You can freeze soft cheese like Brie and Camembert. However, do note they become “stronger” in flavor the longer they are kept in the freezer.

Here are a few websites with tips on freezing food:

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