Whether you have a freezer as a part of your fridge or a chest freezer in the basement, do you know there is so much more you can freeze than ice cream and peas? You may keep a stocked pantry but don’t forget about the freezer when it comes to buying things on sale and keeping them fresh or stocking up on your favourites when in season to enjoy all year round.
Here is a list of things to consider freezing:
1) Meat and Poultry
All meat and poultry can be frozen raw or cooked. Raw meat stays best over 3-6 months. Remove from store packages and ensure they are wrapped in airtight packages. When defrosting raw meat, do so slowly overnight in the fridge. Did you know you can still marinate frozen meat? Put it in the fridge in a marinade and it will soak and defrost at the same time.
2) Fish and Seafood
Most seafood products we consume are previously frozen. So, if you plan to freeze the item when you get home, its best to buy it frozen and put it straight into your freezer. You can refreeze thawed fish and shrimp, however they tend to lose quality and texture. If you do buy fresh fish, it can be frozen for up to 6 months. Previously frozen and thawed fish will last only 3 months.
3) Grain Products and Baked Goods
Bread, pasta, rice, quinoa and baked goods freeze perfectly when they are kept in airtight containers. It is recommended that you store these products in individual or smaller servings as they are more easily accessible that way and will prevent you from having to defrost large portions each time. Baked goods freeze better without icing or glazes as they get sticky when thawed. Buttercream is an exception as it freezes well, and on its own. Doughs for pie, tarts and cookies also freeze well.
4) Dairy Products
Milk, cream, cream cheese, sour cream, grated cheeses and yogurt all can be frozen. The only issue with dairy products is they can lose their emulsification and turn slightly grainy or lumpy when thawed. Re-blending them in a blender can help smooth the texture out or use them as is in baking/cooking. Hard and semi firm cheeses don’t freeze as well as they lose their flavour and turn crumbly when thawed but grated cheese freezes well and can then be used in cooking.
Did you know you can freeze eggs? Just be sure to crack the egg out of their shell as they expand when frozen (and therefore will crack the shell during the freezing process). You can store the eggs whole or separate the yolk and whites for up to 12 months. You can freeze eggs in ice cube trays for easy storage.
You can freeze most fruit (except melons and oranges) and it will maintain its flavour but pretty much all fruits, except for cranberries, will lose their texture. Once frozen, fruit will turn soft when thawed. However, frozen fruit is perfect for smoothies, overnight oats or baked goods. Cooked fruit in apple sauce, cobblers or poached fruit like pears freeze very well.
Pretty much all vegetables can be frozen as well with great results. Most are best cooked, sautéed or balanced prior to being frozen. Tomatoes, despite having a higher water content, can be frozen raw and used for sauces, added to soups or roasted to make roasted tomatoes which is great for pizza. Potatoes, cucumber and any kind of lettuce are specific vegetables that don’t freeze well.
If you ever have extra fresh herbs that will go to waste before you get to use them, you can dice them and freeze them in olive oil or water in ice cube trays. This way they are ready to go in pre-portioned amounts when you need them. You can use these to flavour soups or sauces. They will keep their flavour for up to 6 months. You can also replace the water and oil with simple syrups and use them in drinks in the warmer months.
9) Canned and Jarred Products
Items such as canned tomato paste, pasta sauces and canned beans also freeze well. They can be portioned out into smaller amounts to use in recipes when you don’t need a full can.
10) Full Meals
Many meals that are fully made can be frozen as is. Meals such as casseroles, lasagna, soups, stews, enchiladas, shepherd pie, and even pulled pork can all be frozen once made. You can freeze things like burgers, meatballs and sausages both raw and cooked. Some meals may require less or no cooking time prior to freezing or can be frozen in parts, such as leaving off the potato top of a shepherd’s pie and adding it at the time of consumption.
Keep this list of foods in mind the next time you go grocery shopping and see some of your favourite foods on sale. Stock up on frozen veggies or seasonal fruit and enjoy it throughout the year. Do you want to plan healthy meals for your family and are overwhelmed by the task of meal planning? As always, we are here to help, our dietitians can support you with a customized plan that makes sense for your family situation, food preferences, and schedule.
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Looking for more meal planning tips and freezer-friendly recipes?
How to Set Up a Healthy Freezer
Meal Planning for Busy Families
Big Batch Roasted Tomato Soup Recipe
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