Anyone who’s been to a supermarket in the evening knows that some food prices can hit dramatic lows towards the end of the day, as stores apply heavy discounts to food that’s nearing the end of its shelf life.
While finding a discounted chicken breast for tea or a bargain loaf for tomorrow’s sandwiches can be a great boost, many are put off stocking up on these items, mistakenly thinking that they need to be eaten quickly. But by filling your trolley, and freezing these perfectly edible bargains, you could save yourself a fortune!
Did you know that you can freeze food – even meat – on its use-by date. And many more foods are suitable for freezing than you think!
Meats: What type of meat is safe to freeze?
You can freeze all raw meats, provided they haven’t already been frozen and defrosted. This can extend the shelf life of products for up to a year.
Many of us believe that cooked meats such as ham cannot survive safely in the freezer. But surprisingly, ham – even the sliced, processed variety – can be frozen for up to two months.
Cooked meat, roasts and stews
If you’ve rustled up a tasty stew, or a delicious Sunday roast, you might be wondering about the leftovers. While these dishes will be fine in the fridge for up to 5 days, freezing them could extend their shelf life for up to 6 months. To freeze hot dishes safely, allow them to cool before refrigerating, packing – preferably into individual portions – and freezing.
Whether you are marinating some lamb for the barbecue or just trying to liven up a mid-week chicken breast with a cheeky spicy marinade, don’t worry, marinated meat is safe to freeze. It is best to defrost it on a plate though - you don’t want to risk getting sweet sticky sauce all over your fridge if there is a hole in the bag!
Defrosting food overnight in the fridge will bring the temperature down and make it cheaper to run.
Fruit and veg: What fruit and vegetables can you freeze?
Most fruit and vegetables can be frozen safely, but some have a tendency to go mushy when defrosted. Water-rich foods like lettuce, radish and cucumber will spoil, but others – such as carrots and broccoli – will still be delicious after freezing. To freeze veg successfully, blanch in hot water for a few minutes before cooling and freezing.
Fruit can also be frozen, meaning you can extend the shelf life of market-bought bargains. Arrange fruit such as raspberries on a baking tray, and freeze before bagging and returning to the freezer – this will ensure they don’t clump together. Fruit that tends to go brown should be dipped in a mixture of lemon juice and water, and then dried, before freezing.
Raw potatoes when frozen tend to defrost with a rather grainy texture. However, cooked potatoes, including mash, can be frozen successfully for 1-2 months.
Staples: What kitchen staples can you freeze?
Eggs and Dairy
Milk can be frozen, although you may notice a change in texture, and thick, full-fat cream can also survive a freeze. However, low-fat cream doesn’t fare so well, as it will separate.
Because liquid expands when frozen, raw eggs will break when frozen. And hard-boiled eggs tend to go rubbery when frozen. However, raw eggs can be cracked into ice cube trays or other containers and safely frozen for up to a year – meaning you never have to throw away a spoiled egg.
So, next time you’re in the supermarket, grab yourself some discount bargains and freeze your shopping bill in the process!
More foods that you can freeze:
- Raw egg yolks and whites
- Raw meat
- Luncheon meats
- Grated cheese
- Baked goods
Foods you can’t freeze:
- Salad greens
- Mayo (it’ll separate)
- Cooked pasta (it’ll go soggy)
- Previously frozen products – refreezing can be dangerous, so always double-check