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Why your freezer is your most important appliance

We’re big fans of the humble freezer. Cooking in bulk and freezing meals not only saves you time – but money too. Freezing food can also give life to food that would otherwise go to waste.

Tupperware containing meals ready to be frozen

Six tips to waste less by freezing food

Did you know that most foods can be frozen and used when you need them? Use these tips to save your money and get the most out of your freezer.

1. Cook in bulk

Use less busy moments to cook bulk meals and freeze them for the evenings where you don’t have time to cook. Often buying ingredients and cuts of meat in bulk can save you money in the long-run too. Soup is a cheap and warming meal to cook in bulk and freeze in portions for lunches or week night meals. Stewing and freezing fruit, like apples, pears or rhubarb, is another good way to preserve fruit and use it later.

Two hands preparing vegetables in a pot

2. Buy frozen fruit and vegetables

Buying fresh fruit and veges can get expensive. Especially if something you need to buy is no longer in season. Beat high fresh vege prices by buying frozen vegetables. Stock your freezer with frozen beans, peas, cauliflower, berries, corn and carrots to name a few. Add them to soups, casseroles, stews and smoothies. They’ll last longer than fresh veges, and are just as good for you. 

3. Buy frozen meat and freeze fresh meat

Buying fresh meat, fish and poultry can be expensive. A whole frozen chicken is a cost-effective way to feed your family for less. Stock your freezer with frozen chicken, plain frozen fish and seafood (i.e. prawns). Keep an eye out for meat specials and buy in bulk and freeze into portions to be used when needed.

Mince beef frozen in bags

4. Freeze fresh vegetables and herbs

Stop vegetables going to waste by freezing them when they start to wilt. It's a great way to stock up the freezer with ready-to-go veges. 

Before freezing, think about how you might use the vegetables later, as this can impact how you freeze them. For example, will the vegetables need to be chopped or mashed for your recipe? 

It's also useful to freeze vegetables in portions rather than bulk, so you have these parts prepared in advance for your recipe.

Avoid freezing vegetables with a high-water content, like lettuce, celery and cucumber. The water in these vegetables expands when frozen, making them go limp and mushy.

Some vegetables should be cooked before freezing, like:

  • mashed potato
  • kumara
  • pumpkin
  • eggplant
  • tomato
  • courgette.

If you’re freezing raw vegetables, they should be blanched (quickly boiled) first. This helps kill the enzymes that can spoil frozen foods.

To blanch vegetables, follow these steps:

  1. Decide whether you want the vegetables chopped, grated or whole before blanching and prepare them accordingly.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
  3. Fill a large bowl with ice cold water, put a strainer inside and place near the stove.
  4. Blanch (boil) the vegetables for 45-60 seconds and transfer to the ice water to cool.
  5. When they’re done, the vegetables should be crisp- but tender and taste raw in the middle. Scoop them out of the water, pat dry and lay out on a single baking sheet.
  6. Freeze the vegetables overnight, laid out on the baking sheet.
  7. The next day, transfer the frozen vegetables to freezer bags or seal containers. Don’t use glass containers as they can shatter when frozen.

If frozen correctly, most vegetables will keep for about six months. So, make sure you label and date anything you freeze.

You can freeze fresh herbs too. Once you notice them starting to wilt, pop them in ice cube trays with water and freeze them. Once frozen, remove the herbs from the ice cube trays and store in a freezer-proof bag or container. That way you'll always have fresh herbs to add plenty of flavour to your meals.

5. Put bread straight into your freezer

Bread is one of the most common foods that’s thrown out because it’s gone stale or mouldy. Buy bread when it’s on special and keep it in your freezer. That way it’ll stay fresh and mould-free. Take out slices when you need them and from now on you’ll use the whole loaf from crust to crust, guaranteed!

Bread sealed in plastic bags

6. Freeze leftovers

If you’ve made too much food, don’t throw it away. Even if it’s just a bit of mashed potato, mince or vegetables, pop it in the freezer while you think about how to turn it into another meal. Chances are, if you put leftovers in the fridge you’ll forget about them and end up throwing them out.

Freezer friendly meals

Stock your freezer with meals, from meat to pasta and soups, that will be ready in minutes. Just prep and freeze, ready to reheat on a busy weeknight.

Get ahead with these freezer-friendly recipes.

Cottage pie

This pie is delicious fresh, the next day or from frozen. You can make it go further by adding red lentils or extra vegetables.

Moroccan roast pumpkin soup

Double the recipe and use a whole pumpkin. Freezes well and great to have on hand for a mid-week meal or work lunch.

Savoury mince

Make a big batch over the weekend. Freeze half & use the rest for wraps, baked potatoes, on toast or with pasta.

Dhal curry with cauliflower and spinach

Cook double & freeze the rest for an evening when the fridge is bare. Use frozen spinach & cauliflower they’re not in season.

We've got lots of healthy recipes on our website. Take a look and find one that inspires you to get cooking.

Browse healthy recipes

Read our nutrition facts

Lily Henderson, NZRD

Lily Henderson, NZRD

National Nutrition Advisor

I am passionate about improving the health of all Kiwis from young through to old. I have enjoyed working in nutrition in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.