Nine ways to get the most out of your freezer
Freezers can be found in homes across the country and the experts at online healthy retailer MuscleFood have revealed the best ways to get the most out of them.
With Britscutting costs on their food budgets, batch cooking meals, freezing leftover ingredients and bulk buying frozen essentials could make a difference in savings each week.
Advice includes where meat should be stored, the best way to freeze leftover vegetables and how long food groups should be frozen for.
Ashleigh Tosh from MuscleFood said: “Freezers are essential and it’s only right that we use them in the most efficient way possible, especially during a time where many are cutting costs on their food budget.
“It’s vital to be knowledgeable about the food we store in the freezer, like what the optimum temperature is, at what point quality diminishes and the preparation before freezing.
“The guidelines around how long meat lasts in the freezer depends on different factors, like the temperature and quality of meat, as some freezers may not consistently be able to stay as low as -18°C.
“Whilst it sounds like a lot of effort, there are only a few tips we recommend that’ll help food remain fresher and allow for simple, effective organisation.”
Here are MuscleFood’s top tips to store food in the freezer:
Sort the temperature
Recommended temperatures for storing meat is -18 degrees celsius (0°F), as this significantly reduces the growth of any bacteria.
Thermometers can be used to check the temperature of a freezer, but if it’s unable to reach that low then as close to -18°C as possible is ideal.
Meat and poultry should be stored in the bottom drawer of the freezer. It is not only coolest at the bottom but also safest, as if any juices leak there will be nothing below to cross contaminate. Keep the bottom drawer just for meat as this will prevent any bacteria spreading.
Length of time in freezer for raw meat
Raw poultry like chicken or turkey can last 12 months in the freezer as a whole, nine months in parts and four in giblets. Beef, veal, lamb and pork also have varying periods depending on the cuts, but steaks and roasts last up to a year and chops last for up to six months. Sausages can last up to two months, and bacon is just the one.
Length of time in freezer for cooked meat
Meal prepping can be a huge time saver, and it’s completely fine to freeze cooked meat to be used at a later date. Leftovers from beef, veal, lamb and pork can last up to three months, whilst chicken or turkey in pieces or fried can last up to four months.
Freezing dairy products
Finding yourself with too much milk at the end of the week when it is about to go out of date? Milk can be frozen and used as needed. Distribute leftover milk into ice cube trays and pop the frozen milk cubes into a cup of tea or coffee.
Keep it full
The fuller the freezer, the more effectively it will work to keep your food fresh, as it retains the cold better. However if overfilled, the air won’t circulate properly. If your freezer is relatively empty, fill it with taped up cardboard boxes to use less energy and keep it cold.
To freeze fresh vegetables, it is best to blanch them. This means you need to place them in boiling water for one to two minutes, and then quickly submerge them in ice water to prevent further cooking. This stops enzymes from harming the nutrients, flavour and colour of the vegetables and kills any harmful microorganisms that may be present too.
Storing general food
Whilst meat should go at the bottom of a freezer, there is more flexibility as to where to put other items. Frequently used items like the meal preps and ice cream need to be easy to access, so the top drawer is a good option. Middle drawers should contain more general items like vegetables, frozen fruits, sauces and bread.
All of these tips are handy but remembering dates on meals and meats is too much of a headache, so add some labels to containers and bags for future reference. What's inside, when it was frozen and when it should be used are good pointers.