With the heatwave raging on, your freezer will likely have become your new best friend. But beyond serving you ice cubes and lollies to survive the hot weather, your freezer is also your anti-food waste hero – particularly if you are finding the heat is leaving you with a surplus of garden herbs and over-ripe fruit and veg.
Here are our favourite freezer hacks for salvaging your leftovers. Simply store in containers, old jars or reusable freezer bags to save time, money and waste:
1. Wine – Opened a bottle of wine but have some left at the end of the evening? Pour it into an ice cube tray and pop in the freezer. You can then add it to your cooking next time you rustle up a pasta dish or casserole.
2. Ginger – Peel the stem then freeze – you can then grate it straight into dishes when needed.
3. Teabags – Before composting your used black or green teabags, squeeze the liquid out and pop them in freezer for 10 mins for a rejuvenating natural eye mask.
4. Stock – Excess stock can be frozen in ice cube trays, ready for your next batch of soup or stew.
5. Bread – Keep your loaf sliced in the freezer and take slices out as and when you need to make your bread last longer.
6. Herbs – If the summer sun has helped your garden herbs grow, help keep them fresh for longer by washing, chopping and freezing in labelled containers or reusable freezer bags. Or add chopped herbs to ice cube trays and cover with olive oil or water and drop into your cooking.
7. Yoghurt – Freeze yoghurt in ice cube trays too make smoothies/ice cream
8. Bulk Cooking – Cooking for one? Make meals in bulk to use up all the ingredients and store any left-overs in the freezer for a lazy day – curries, casseroles and stews work well for this.
9. Whole Grains – such as quinoa, barley and brown rice, which notoriously take a long time to cook, freeze well after cooking. Simply wait for it to cool, then stack in flat freezer bags in the freezer, and take out when you’re short on time and want something easy for dinner. Simply add to the pan from frozen or microwave until hot.
10. Vegetables – If you have unused vegetables that are past their best, use them to cook up a sauce or soup, which can then be frozen and stored in the freezer.
12. Grapes – Freeze ‘em and have them as the perfect summer snack, straight from the freezer.
13. Lemons & Limes – Chopped lemon & limon slices can be frozen then added straight into your G&T/drink.
14. Bananas – Overripe bananas can still be frozen, even once they’ve turned brown. Keep them in the skins for making banana bread – just defrost in microwave when you’re ready to bake and then you’ll have a ready mashed banana. For smoothies, peel and chop in half or slices before freezing, and freezer in storage containers or reusable freezer bags and add a portion of frozen banana to your morning smoothie.
15. Chilli – Chop up your chillis and freeze in storage containers, jars or reusable freezer bags, ready to drop straight into the pan when needed.
16. Fruit – If you have fruit going off, chop it up, put it in a container and freeze and voila – you have a smoothie ready for when you need a vitamin hit!
17. Milk – If your milk is on the edge or if you’re heading off on holiday and still have milk in the fridge that won’t last while you’re away, simply freeze it in its bottle and defrost in the fridge when you’re ready to drink. (If you’re breastfeeding you can also express and freeze breast milk in the freezer – just label it first!)
18. Cookies – Next time you bake cookies, make some excess dough and freeze it in portions, ready for popping in the oven to save time when you next have a cookie craving.
19. Grated Cheese – Grated cheese can be frozen then you can just sprinkle into things
20. Chips – Next time you over order from the chip shop, save your leftover chips and freeze them in their paper wrapping. Then next time you have a chip craving, simply heat from frozen and voila!
21. Beansprouts – Leftover beansprouts can be frozen until you fancy a stir fry again.