Organise!A good freezer is an organised freezer. Sort through yours, throw out anything that you're never going to use (or any packets that have unknown contents) and decide on a draw for meat, a draw for fruit and veg, and a draw for treats and other bits and bobs - or whatever works for you.
If your freezer has a lot of ice built up around it, it might be worth defrosting it. An inefficient freezer can cost you an extra £18 in energy bills over a year. Simply empty it out and unplug it, let it defrost - but make sure you use a bucket to catch the water or else you could have a flooded kitchen on your hands. Of course this is only a smart money idea if you don't lose all the food you have in there. Ideally you could defrost your freezer in winter and put the food in the garden to keep it cold, or store your food in a neighbour's freezer while you're doing this.
Always label any leftovers before you freeze them.If you're removing anything from its packaging, write a label that tells you what it is and when you froze it. You might think now that you'll remember, but a few weeks down the line, chances are you won't.
Always check what you've got before you shop. It's an obvious tip, but it's easy to forget what's in your freezer, so just have a quick look before you head to the shops.
Freezer factsBe confident in your freezer facts and you'll open up a whole world of opportunity!
First of all, know what products can be frozen. Did you know you can freeze dairy products like milk and cheese? You can also freeze meat (cooked or not), pastry, cakes, vegetables and bread. If your family doesn't always make it through a whole loaf of bread, then freezing it is a great option - pull it out a slice at a time and pop it straight in the toaster. If you're really organised with your veg, you could even buy a big batch of a family favourite when it's in season (and therefore at its cheapest) and freeze to use a bit at a time over the next few months.
Secondly, know how freeze and defrost safely. The golden rules are:
- Never refreeze something that's already been frozen.
- Always check the packaging. Don't freeze anything that doesn't state it's suitable for home freezing.
- Defrost in the fridge. Whatever you're defrosting, get it out of the freezer the night before you need it and ensure it's defrosted properly before you eat it. You can also defrost in the microwave.
- If you're reheating something after it has been frozen, make sure you cook it until it's piping hot throughout.
- Close up the bag, or wrap things thoroughly in cling film or a freezer bag before you put them in the freezer. This isn't so much for safety, but it prevents freezer burn which will spoil the taste of your food. The less air is around the product when you wrap it, the better.
Bulk buy and bulk cookBulk buying and bulk cooking is one of our favourite money-saving tips at goodtoknow!
Buy what's on offer or buy bigger packs. Take advantage of any 2-for-1s on products you regularly eat, and freeze the leftover one. Plus buy bigger packs and freeze what you have leftover. For example, a pack of Tesco Everyday Value mince will cost you £1.56 for 500g, or £2.40 for 800g. Buy the 800g pack and freeze the extra 300g - you've saved 36p. You know what they say... every little helps!
Freeze leftovers in individual portions. Cook extra and freeze what's leftover in individual containers or freezer bags. It means you're much more flexible with what you can reuse - you don't have to find a time to use everything you've got leftover in one go. Leftover dinners can make a perfect hot lunch meal for you while the kids are at school.
Frozen fruit and vegBags of frozen fruit and vegetables should be a staple item in any freezer. They sometimes even have more vitamins than the fresh varieties, because they're frozen so soon after being picked.
Chuck frozen veg into risottos, pasta dishes and stir frys, or serve on the side of another dish. Add frozen fruit to porridge to add extra flavour or blend it up with some yoghurt for a nice slushy smoothie. You can even add frozen fruit like grapes and berries to drinks as a fun alternative to ice cubes.