But before you reach for that ready meal or take out menu remember that home-cooked food is so much better for us and our children, you know exactly what goes into it, it’s tastes good and the kids can even help and learn to cook it. Yes, this does take more time to do which is why you need to use everything around you to help. And we’ll start with your freezer.
I love bulk cooking because you only have to do it once a month and it’s so easy to do. But even if you don’t want to cook loads, just take any extra amounts you’ve made (sauce, gravy, juices etc) and freeze them ready for another meal. Couldn’t be simpler. Having reserve meals and sauces stored away means that on those crazy busy days when the kids have got swimming and you run out of petrol on the way home (yes, it’s happens to us all) don’t whatever you do feed the kids a chicken nugget meal - you’ve already got some good, nutritious wholesome food at home.
Sauces are a great way to plough in lots vegetables into meals (whizz them up together and the kids will never know) plus you can use up all the bits you have sitting around that need finishing off. It also works out healthier on the wallet, too. So while you’re heating up your beautiful home cooked sauces to turn into soup, spag bol, chilli, shepherd’s pie or chicken ‘surprise’ you can do a little homework with the kids, set the table, get a fresh salad ready or even put your feet up. And have a wine. I’ve found that as I’m rushing less by cooking like this we get to eat together as a family more often. And I really like that.
Some of my favourite freezer friendly dishes include:
- Basic masala sauce
- Thari wala chicken
- Lamb kebabs - I would freeze them before cooking them
- Samosa - Freeze before deep frying them and freeze flat in a single layer
Freezing meals is one way of making the most of your time, money and energy when it comes to cooking great home food but there are so many other things you can do. This is my list of top ten freezer tricks to help you cook easy and reduce food waste.
1. Leftover chillies
- Freeze them whole in a tub, and when you need them take them out, thaw for just a minute and they’ll chop up beautifully.
- Once frozen grate them over the top of your dish – spicy! c. Blitz then put the mix into ice cube trays, freeze then store in freezer bags. Then just add the frozen cubes when cooking.
- Have a mass peeling session then put the whole cloves into a container and freeze. Take them out to defrost for about two minutes then chop, slice or crush.
- Blitz, put into ice cube trays and freeze. Then just add a cube to melt flavour into your dish.
- Whizz up, put the paste into ice cube trays and freeze.
- Whole fresh ginger freezes really well so if you see loads on a market stall, buy a bag of it to take home. Leave it to defrost the just push it through a garlic press to get all the delicious juice and flavour but the fibre’s stay behind.
- Curry tip: You can also blitz ginger, garlic and chilli all together and have frozen mixed cubes to add to your curry dishes.
4. Fresh tomatoes
If your tomatoes are going soft, pop them in the freezer then when you need them take them out to thaw. The skin will peel off really easily and mush up into a sauce beautifully. You can even use these to make a tomato sauce. It’s an easier way to peel you tomatoes too – no more burnt fingers!
We all buy it and use a bit then end up throwing the rest away. I always have a stock in my freezer. Wash it, dry it, then chop it up and put into a tub. Don’t let the tub touch the sides of the freezer and don’t squash the leaves too much as this can burn the leaves.
6. Cooked onions
A curry is all about the onions… but cooking them until they are a beautiful dark brown (that’s where the flavour of the dish comes from) takes time. So why not caramelise a big batch of them and freeze them in freezer bags or in Yorkshire pudding trays? This will save you a bunch of time when you have a mid-week curry craving but do remember that onions reduce down (a lot). I usually cook ten large onions to get four portions and you will need to cook them with butter or oil gently for about an hour. They’ll keep for up to four months provided they don’t get freezer burn.
Hardy herbs (sage, rosemary, oregano) work really well from frozen. Just put your herbs into an ice cube tray, top up with oil and freeze ready for when you need them in casseroles and stews. This won’t really work for soft herbs like basil and mint.
Ok now this is a favourite – maybe nothing to do with Indian cooking but when you get those little bits of wine left in the bottle (I know it does happen sometimes) pour them into an ice cube tray and freeze. They are perfect for adding to your sauces or more robust recipes.
Nuts have a very high oil content which means they go off really quickly. They are also prone to picking up odours from the atmosphere and heat and light make them rancid. So if you cook, bake or add nuts to your curries, freeze them in tubs. This keeps them from going off and as they don’t have any water in them they can be frozen for a good few months without any change in their texture.
Sounds strange I know but paneer freezes really well so always make a little extra and freeze it for later.
That’s it! If you have any freezer gems then I would love to add them to my list. Drop me a line and give me details!Back to Blog