While this post is part of our Covid19 support resources, really, it’s just a darn good reference guide for the days you have time and want to get a head with prep and batch factor. Getting organised with forward-thinking food prep when there’s time to do it, puts you in a great position with wiggle room for the busy days, or, as we are experiencing right now, in a pandemic when you want to have a little extra up your sleeve for a lockdown. Did you know you could freeze a big raw puree of veggies to dump all that goodness into your next casserole, soup, stew or pasta sauce mix? Or how about pesto – did you know you could make a big pesto and freeze a couple of jars? How about avocado?
For the sake of being able to batch, save money by being well planned, reduce waste and reduce stress AND save summer favourites for the cooler months (so many wins!), we’ve made you a list of things you can batch raw or cooked, ready to rock for when they’re needed. Enjoy and feel free to share some of the things you like to batch in the comments.
This post is a part of a set of resources we’ve built to address the fact that a lot of us have upped our food stocks to the 2-week window, either because your town, city or country is in lockdown or to ensure that if we go into lockdown, we’re good to go. At a time like this, you do not want to waste a skerrick of food rather than buying up a tonne of stuff and having it spoil or be in surplus. There is no need to hoard beyond having healthy stocks of things. The more one hoards the more someone will miss out and we don’t want that on our watch! Nature is still out there growing food with a little help from our farmers, so we will not run out. If you’re anxious about that, look to meditation, gratitude journaling and some of the other resources we’ll be putting together over the coming week.
You can check out our other post in which fruits and veggies will last the longest in your kitchen, here.
A few notes to get you prepped…
Before we dive into the list of freezable foods, consider getting your mitts on some freezer-friendly storage and labels! Certainly not essential given some of us might be tightening up budgets/businesses may not be dispatching goods as readily, but worth it if you’re looking at things that’ll last a long time and keen to support businesses. Remember when it comes to Covid-19, things will pass, but the lessons and strategies we implement will remain.
These freezer bags from BioBag are a great starting point. They’re versatile and suitable for all produce and meat, plus they’re Earth-friendly and compostable, meaning they can be returned to the earth as harmless organic matter, instead of breaking down into harmful microplastics.
These Glass Lock Containers from Biome are freezer friendly and good for storing pre-blanched veggies or even scraps like onion skins and offcuts to turn into broth.
These Little Mashies Reusable Silicone Storage Bags from Biome are fabulous freezer-safe silicone bags to keep food extra fresh and contained and come in a range of sizes by a wonderful local woman.
Foods you can cook/puree/blitz/prep and freeze
Now onto the fun stuff, foods that you can start freezing or preserving to make space…
Apples – When it comes to apples the best tip is not to just chuck it whole straight into the freezer! Instead, slice and core the apples, soak them in a lemon juice bath for 5 minutes, drain them and then arrange on a large baking sheet. Freeze for 4 hours or overnight and then transfer to a freezer-safe bag. They’ll last for up to a year in your freezer. You can then remove them and much away as needed or cook into a compote, pie filling or apple sauce.
Banana – Peel the banana (this is important!) and then chop into chunks. Pop into a freezer-safe bag and use for thickening and sweetening smoothies or blend into a banana ice cream.
Leafy Greens – Big bunches of kale and spinach can take up whole shelves in the fridge. If you’re planning to cook them down anyway, gently blanch in a bowl of pre-boiled water for 30 seconds, drain and run under cool water. Drain again and pop it into portions in freezer-safe bags. Simply throw into a pan with some butter to heat through or stir into a soup/ sauce or stew for a greens hit.
Chopped onion – I always shared this tip as it’s one I use all the time… when you’ve committed to chopping onions, might as well go the whole way and chop a bag of them, pop the chopped onions into a few smaller freezer-safe jars or bags and freeze. Next time you’re cooking a savoury dish like curry or soup, you’ve already got an onion, portioned and chopped that you can use. It’s a huge time saver!
Onion skins – Don’t chuck those onion skins! Save them to flavour a chicken bone broth like this one – it’s great for the immune system too and then you don’t have to waste a whole onion for stock/broth if you’ve accumulated all the tops/tails and skins!
Avocado – if you’ve bought too many avocados and they’re all ripening up at the same time, don’t stress! Deseed them and scoop out the fresh. Dice into smaller chunks and store in a freezer-safe pouch or container. Frozen avocado makes the best thickener to green smoothies and you can also get away with them through a salsa with chopped crunchy capsicum, tomato and coriander with fresh lime when defrosted also!
Cheese – freezing your cheese is a clever way to sure up some fridge space. A good tip is to grate it in advance and store in a freezer-safe silicone pouch or flat glass lock type container. When you’re serving up dinner or topping a baked dish like lasagne just sprinkle it over the top. The heat from the food will melt it down and no one will know the difference!
Cookie dough – if you’re already going to the trouble of making some homemade cookies or biscuits, make a double batch and freeze half in a log shape, wrapped in some baking paper. When you’re ready to cook them, remove from the freezer to thaw for an hour on the kitchen bench, and slice into discs or roll into balls and gently flatten, depending on the consistency. Et Voila! Future You will be so grateful! Try this technique with my Therapeutic Chocolate Chip Cookies (pictured).
Cooked legumes – While preparing legumes is fairly easy, there are a few steps; soak legumes with a little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar added to the filtered water, drain, cook in filtered water, drain again. If you find the task a bit arduous, make double the batch and pop half into the freezer for another day. It’s a great option if you’re making soups, curries and stews or love homemade hummus but don’t always have the foresight to prep your legumes properly!
Cooked eggs – Yep, you can freeze cooked eggs! Whole eggs might be a little bit rubbery but still fine to boil and peel before freezing. Scrambled eggs freeze well because the yolk prevents the egg whites from becoming too rubbery. Simply cook the eggs so the eggs are slightly under, and allow to cool, then freeze portions in cupcake tin for no longer than half an hour. Remove and put into individual freezer bags, eliminating any air by gently squeezing the bags before closing. Allow to defrost in the fridge overnight before reheating in a frying pan.
Cooked rice/ quinoa/ buckwheat – It is best to freeze the cooked grains as soon as possible after cooking to avoid the growth of bacteria. Cool the grains quickly by popping in the fridge and then transfer to freezer-safe containers. Simply thaw on the bench for a few hours and reheat in a pan before serving. Pre-cooked grains are great for stirring through veggies or leftover to make a fried rice or mish-mash style meal.
Mashed potato – Mashed potatoes freeze really well and make a perfect pre-made side! To do this well, scoop one-cup portions of the mashed potatoes onto a baking paper-lined tray/plate, then transfer to the freezer for at least a few hours up to overnight, until the mashed potatoes are completely frozen. Transfer the individual servings to a large freezer bag or container, and store in the freezer until you need it. Thaw on the bench for a few hours and reheat in the oven or on a low stove before serving up.
Muesli bar mixes – like the cookie dough, you can make a double batch of any nut/seed mixture and freeze until you need it. If you’re making homemade granola and don’t have space to store it, the freezer is the perfect place to do so!
Foods you can blanch and freeze
Green Beans / Broccoli / Silverbeet / Cauliflower / Carrot
These veggies are usually blanched and then frozen to preserve their flavour, nutrients and texture. Blanching prior to freezing also makes them far easier for the body to digest and lessens cooking time. A hot tip is to chop into small even-sized pieces so the veg you’re blanching cooks evenly at the same time. 2-3 minutes in simmering hot water is enough time. Remove and dunk into cold water to slow the cooking process. Once cooled down and lightly patted dry/ strained (to avoid large ice crystals), pop into freezer-safe pouches or containers.
Foods you can blend and blitz
Pestos – Use leftover nuts, greens and herbs to make up delicious pesto blends. Need a recipe? Try my Nutrient-Dense Dairy-Free Pesto here.
Veggie purees – Make puree/ favour bomb cubes. Blend everything that looks old and limp (bendy carrots, soft capsicums, beets that are soft, pulpy herbs, those three ratty pieces of kale. Pop into a high-powered blender, blitz and freeze into tiny containers to add to soups and bolognese for added flavour.
Pate – When it comes to making pate, I try to do a few batches of my Foolproof chicken liver pate to minimise the fiddliness of making a paté. So what to do when you have 6 jars of pate? Other than gift this nutrient-dense food to friends and family, freeze it in a sealed jar and take it out to thaw in the fridge for a day or two before tucking in again.
Smoothies – Premake smoothies with any veggies and fruits and pop into freezer-safe jars – be sure to only fill ⅔ of the way up to allow for expansion in the freezer. Remove from the freezer the night before to have for tomorrow’s breakfast.
Compote – Take any bruised / overripe fruit and make a compote that you can freeze. Pop the fruit in a pan with a few drops of stevia or a little drizzle of rice malt syrup, maple or honey and simmer with a pinch of your favourite sweet spice for 10-20 minutes. Allow it to cool and store in containers in the freezer until needed.
So there you have it – any surprises or anything you’re excited to get started on in your corner of the world? Nourishing food, relaxing cooking and prepping with good tunes on and a cuddle from a loved one is really where it’s all at when the world outside your window seems crazy hard. Maybe the world INSIDE your window seems crazy hard right now too, and to you all, I send hugs, compassion, and if I were there with you I’d pour you a glass of water and sit with you. If you need that right now, don’t be ashamed to ask for it – even if it’s connecting virtually through Zoom or Skype. I’ve had a couple of lunch dates via Zoom instead of cancelling good friends and it’s actually been lovely and good for the soul. We’ve made other posts you might find useful on what fresh produce lasts the longest un-frozen, cheap+simple meals you can make and eat or freeze and everyday antiviral produce you can add to your meals. Enjoy the resources.
Low Tox. Healthy People. Happy Planet.