It looks like many of us could be self-isolating over the coming months, so batch cooking could be on the cards for the majority of the nation.
Freezing produce and prepping future meals is a great cost-effective idea if you’re going to be spending a lot of time at home and if you’re unsure of when you’ll be making your next trip to the supermarket.
Just like organising a fridge, there are plenty of ways to ensure your freezer stays neat and tidy – this will, after all, help prevent food waste and spoilage.
Here are some expert tips to bear in mind when organising a freezer.
1. Freeze food at the right time
Freezing helps to preserve food in its present state – so the fresher food is when it’s frozen, the fresher it’ll taste when it defrosts.
A Lakeland spokesperson says, ‘Freezing doesn’t kill bacteria. Follow freezer guidelines about how long to store different types of frozen foods and, if in doubt, don’t risk it.’
‘Don’t freeze old food because you don’t want to waste it (as it won’t improve the taste). For better-tasting results, make-ahead meals should be made with fresh ingredients and then frozen once cooled.’
2. Ditch space-hogging packaging
Emma Harrod, professional organiser and founder of EH Lifestyling, tells Ideal Home, ‘In order to save space in your freezer, remove items from bulky boxes and packaging where possible. Place the bigger items at the bottom of the shelf or drawer to maximise space.’
Freezing things flat (in a freezer bag) is another great space-saving technique – this means you’ll be able to stack foods easily on top of one another.
4. Use different drawers for different food types
Emma adds, ‘I would recommend putting meat or poultry in the bottom drawer to avoid juices dripping onto other foods and causing cross-contamination. I would also suggest having fish in the drawer above. Miscellaneous products such as chips, bread and vegetables can also be kept in a drawer together.’
‘Finally the top drawer can be used for any meals you’ve prepped for the week ahead to make them easily accessible.’
4. Portion food before you freeze it
Susan Seabertm, a cleaning expert at the health, fitness and lifestyle brand GearHungry, says it’s important to portion food before freezing.
She tells Ideal Home, ‘Many people will freeze copious amounts of meat and then when it comes to defrost, they are forced to thaw the whole amount – often much more than what is needed. Put your meat into the correct portion sizes before freezing in order to avoid food waste.’
Obviously, if you have a large family, freezing big portions is a good option. But generally dividing food up into individual portions will prevent any food waste, when it comes to defrosting.
5. Label everything
A spokesperson for Lakeland tells Ideal Home, ‘Don’t forget to label your portioned meals. Even the most basic labelling before freezing will make it easy to see which meal is which, so you can avoid any unexpected surprises when you come to dinnertime.’
‘Label homemade food and raw food clearly. Make it easy to see at a glance what food you have. Make it clear whether food is raw or cooked and always write on the label the date that the food was frozen.’
It might sound simple but adding labels to frozen products will help you to identify foods quicker. It’s also important to differentiate between raw and cooked foods and to try and keep them separate in the freezer – labelling will help with this.
6. Blanch vegetables before freezing
Australian home appliance brand Breville also advises to blanch vegetables before home freezing.
The reason behind it? It says, ‘Blanching prevents enzymes from damaging the colour, flavour and nutrients of your veggies, destroying harmful micro-organisms on the surface of the vegetables too. To blanch vegetables, you need to place them in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, and then quickly submerge them in ice water to prevent them from cooking.’