Christmas Recipes - Top 10 Essentials To Keep In the Freezer
We've all got a half full bag of peas lurking in the bottom of the freezer, and maybe a couple of bags of unidentifiable mush, but did you realise that the freezer is a great store for some of the food items that we run out of so readily *cue last minute dash to the shop when you've run out of milk*
Below I've listed 10 of our household's top foods to keep in the freezer - perfect for when you have a houseful, Christmas, or dare I say, pandemics!
Bread in its many forms is perfect for the freezer. We regularly buy a big loaf, and split it into 2, half for the freezer, half for now. But did you know you can also stash: garlic bread for when you want spaghetti bolognese or pizza; naan bread for curry; slices of bread ready for toasting or for toasties; sourdough, for cheese platter boards whilst watching a movie; breadcrumbs, for making stuffing; and even when it's cooked, such as bread and butter pudding.
Where there's bread, there's butter! Although butter has a good lead time on it, usually about 6 weeks, if it's on offer in the shops you can stock up ready fro a busy time of year. Blocks of butter are great for freezing, just remove them to thaw in good time. Perfect for stashing when you know you've got a bake-a-thon coming up. I don't like margarine, so I confess I've never tried freezing it, but I imagine it would too. And you don't need to stop at plain butter either. You can, before putting it in the freezer, mix herbs like parsley, chive or celery salt, ready to use in cooking.
So, we love tinned custard in our house, but we prefer fresh, and occasionally I have a go at making it myself (although this has had disastrous consequences!). And it's great to know that fresh custard freezes really well, either from the shop or your own home made, which means that if you've got a houseful of people coming round, you don't need to faff about with the custard ready for dessert. Just whip it out of the freezer in plenty of time, and when thawed, pour into a jug straight for the table. Perfect for weekends, guests or Christmas, for when tinned custard just doesn't hit the spot.
4. White Sauce
White sauce that you make is way better than what Dolmio provides in a jar. But I'm not gonna lie, I find it real faffy to make. And if the husband makes it, there's usually way too much of it. Let it cool, pour it into pots, and you've got a stash ready for a pasta dish, lasagne, or a base of a sauce for many meat dishes, such as ham, steak, or chicken. I make mine with onions too, and this has also frozen well.
We get through so much milk at home, we're constantly running out, and so we've taken to buying 2 bottles every time we go to the shop, one for the freezer, one for now. When we're about half way through the one, we pull one out of the freezer ready. This also works great it you can't drink a whole bottle to your house without it going off. Split it into 2, and freeze half, but make sure that before you put it in the freezer, you leave a couple of inches of air for the freezing process.
6. Mince Pies for Autumn/Winter
Yep. I know. It's not life or death if you don't have any of these to hand, but during Autumn and Winter, especially if you're a house that's used to getting loads of visitors, a batch of these to heat up when visitors drop by is a god-send. Serve warm with brandy butter (which can also be frozen) or cold with cream. Or just on their own. And when the gloomy days of January set in, a couple fo warmed mince pies feels good, especially if you've had to do some clearing work outside in the garden. Job done.
7. Cookies/Biscuit Mix
Make double the mixture and freeze half, a great idea if you do a load of baking for the local kids school fete or fayre. Just like with the mince pies above, pull out what you need, heat them up, and serve immediately, or when cold, and you've got something way better than what you could buy in a shop. Apart from maybe a Golden Cream Crunch. Yum.
This is a necessity in my house, we eat so much cheese, and the variety that I'm talking about here is the bog standard cheddar variety. So, you can either freeze it en-masse in a block, or freeze it grated depending on how you use it. You could in its grated form then take a handful for the top of the dishes that need to go in the oven (think potato toppings, or tortilla dishes), or for the middle of a toastie. If in its block form, thaw in the freezer, then use as you would normally.
9. Uncooked Meat and Fish
I don't think there has never been meat and fish in our freezer, especially as we try to buy our meat directly from the farmer, and this tends to come in half-animal size boxes. But stocking up on reduced price meat and fish from the supermarket really helps to reduce food waste, and if it goes straight into the freezer when returning home, will give you a really tasty meal later in the week/month. You'll often find as well that you get the more expensive lines in the reduced section, as the supermarkets don't tend to sell so many of them, which will give you a really luxurious meal one weekend.
10. Ready Prepared Meals
When time is short, during sporting season if you've got kids, or during November and December, when the calendar doesn't seem to have a free night on it, meals that you've prepared in advance are a god send. Now you can use bought ones, but what you've cooked at home is way better, both in taste and for your health. During September and October, cook a double batch of anything that can freeze, including bolognese meals, curries, stews, pies, and you've got your own freezer full of tasty delicious meals, most of which can be heated from frozen.
Now, I always have a couple of pizzas, a bag of chips, onion rings and always frozen vegetables, either from the shop or my garden in there too. And sometimes I will ready make up some trays with different vegetables and a portion of something like pie, ready to go straight into the microwave or oven. Great for those evenings where you've got to dash to a meeting.
Using the freezer strategically like this is a game changer. Time saving at its best. But don't forget to replace what you've removed from there! And for more freezer use tips, you can check out this blog post about what you can cook and freeze in advance of the big day, keeping you sane and frazzle free when cooking the Christmas dinner.
- Annabelle Summerfield