Did you know that 70% of the food that is wasted in the UK is done so at home?! Reducing your food waste and saving food that could have been eaten from being thrown away could save the average household up to £730 a year!
One of the easiest ways to help reduce your food waste is to make the most of your freezer! Not only will this help to save you money but also being able to grab pre-cooked meals or snacks from the freezer is ALWAYS a winner!
But not sure what you can freeze and what you can’t?! Here’s some tips from Jenna (@foodsafetymum) to help you decide…..
To freeze or not to freeze?
The good news is, pretty much everything can be frozen! *Providing it’s within it’s use by date and hasn’t already been reheated!
In general, the list of what not to freeze is much shorter than the list of what can be frozen! The freezer acts as a ‘pause button’ on food, keeping it safer for longer, although it may adversely affect the quality and texture of some foods which means that some foods may be better to use in cooking after they have been frozen.
Foods which generally don’t freeze well are those with a high water content such as salad items including lettuce and cucumber. Other foods that don’t freeze well include Mayonnaise and soft cheeses (though soft cheese is fine to freeze inside a sauce). But, even if you used defrosted raw meat or used frozen veggies you can still portion and freeze the cooked leftovers to reheat another day!
Check out the guide at the bottom of the page for more….
For pre-packed food, make sure you follow the instructions on the back of pack. Some ready to eat or processed foods may not be suitable for home freezing depending on the manufacturing process.
How to make sure you are Safely Freezing Food?
- Regardless of what you have cooked, it’s important to make sure you cool hot foods as quickly as possible, ideally within an hour and a half as you want the food to be cold within 2 hours of cooking and then pop into the fridge or freezer.
- Always freeze food before, or on, the use by date. After the use by date has passed, it is not safe to cook, freeze or eat the food as use by dates are there for your safety.
- Use previously frozen food within 24 hours of defrosting
- Only reheat food once… so make sure you divide your baby’s food into baby-friendly portions before storing in the fridge or freezer!
Defrosting & Reheating Foods from the freezer
Small portions of baby finger foods or purees are ideal to be cooked straight from frozen!
But, rest assured you don’t always need to reheat your leftovers as you can safely serve food to your baby cold…. just make sure that you popped it in the fridge less than 2 hours after cooking! Defrosting foods such as omelettes, pancakes or hummus/ dips in a cool bag for a couple of hours and serving cold are great options for when you are out and about!
However, when reheating to serve food to your baby warm, it’s important to make sure you do not partially reheat food for your baby to avoid having to wait for it to cool down! If not serving cold, always reheat until piping hot throughout.
This is because when reheating food, there is a ‘danger zone’ between 8C and 63C which is the range where harmful bacteria can multiply rapidly (in just 20 minutes, the number of bacteria can double in the right conditions!). In order to make sure the food you serve your baby is as safe as possible, make sure you keep food out of this ‘danger zone’ and either serve cold from the fridge or reheat until piping hot and eat within 2 hours.
How long does food last in the freezer?
Ideally, you should aim to use any portions of baby’s food in the freezer within 1- 3 months.
BUT…. It’s important to know that the safety of the food will not be affected if your baby’s food has been in the freezer for longer than this (providing it has remained frozen solid). The freezer acts as a ‘pause button’ on bacteria, however, the quality of food in the freezer will deteriorate over time.
If you decide not to freeze your leftovers or batch cooked meals, remember you can always keep the leftovers in the fridge for 2 days, or 1 day if the dish contains rice.
Where’s best to store……
For more safety information, follow Jenna on Instagram @Foodsafetymum