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Meal building blocks for the freezer

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Old Style MoneySaving
204 replies 79.1K views
thriftlady_2thriftlady_2 Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Old Style MoneySaving
I don't do much batch cooking for the freezer, but I do have what I call 'building blocks' of meals stashed in there.

Tomato sauce - made with tinned toms, onions and as many other veg I can manage to smuggle in. Used for pizza topping, bolognese, lasagne, straight with pasta, over fish fillets, in casseroles.

Crumble mix- ready to sprinkle over fruit in ramekins (or a bigger dish, but ramekins are good for portion control ;) )Also good for topping muffins or streusel-type cakes.

Stewed/pureed fruit- at the moment it's quinces, damsons, blackberries and apples. Good for crumbles, pies and yogurt, or on porridge for breakfast.

Fruit syrup- this is the result of stewing fruit with a lot of moisture like plums. I hate to throw it away so freeze it. Pour it on ice cream.

Pastry -shortcrust for sweet and savoury pies/pasties or jam tarts.

Stock- absolutely invaluable for soups and stews.

Gravy- this is a leftover, I don't make it specially for the freezer. Everytime we have a roast or sausages with onion gravy I freeze the leftovers. If there's a lot then we have it with a meat and 2 veg meal. If there's only a bit it goes into hashes or casseroles. I also save leftover liquid/sauce from casseroles for soups (labelled and dated carefully so I'm not reheating and refreezing the same bit of gravy over and over;) )

Veg base- Now this one is as yet untried in the freezer, but I intend to make a batch later this week. I got the idea for the veg from Nigella. Some of her recipes aimed at children start with onions, garlic, celery, carrots, peppers all blitzed together in the food processor so they are very finely chopped. She then fries them as a base for stewy/soupy type dishes. This is a brilliant wheeze for disguising lots of veg. I add courgette (peeled so there is no giveaway green), mushrooms and leeks too.

It occured to me that there was no reason why I couldn't whizz up a huge batch and freeze it raw in small containers. I'm sure it would defrost quickly straight in the pan.

Cooked pulses- I notice these are available in the freezers at Tesco, can't remember how much for but it's bound to be way more than the cost of a bag of dried beans. Simply empty a bag into a big bowl, cover with water and soak overnight. Next day bring to a boil and cook. Bag up in 2 cup sized portions (about the same as a tin) and freeze. You can add these to stews, soups and curries straight from frozen.

Breadcrumbs and cubes -to save all my hm breadcrusts going to waste. Crumbs for coating fishckes, hm nuggets, hm fishfingers, treacle tart, bread pudding, breadcrumb cookies, in muffins, frying with garlic in olive oil to serve with pasta. Cubes for croutons with our weekend lunchtime soup. or fried up with butter and sugar and served with cream for a quick and sticky pud, or in other old-fashioned puddings.

White sauce -this freezes well and is a good thing to make in quantity if you have a lot of milk near its use by date. Having it in 1 pint portions in the freezer cuts down the work of fish pies, macaroni cheese, pasta bakes, lasagne and many other dishes. You can add cheese when reheating or parsley and other herbs & flavourings.

Are there any other 'building blocks' I should be adding to my freezer ? Please share:)

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Replies

  • Wow, you've given me some great ideas there - Thank you. The only other building block I have is caramelised onions. I love them, and they seem to take so long compared with what you want to put them on.
  • stefejbstefejb Forumite
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    brilliant ideas (as ever) I would add grated cheese - I buy huuuuuge moneysaving blocks and freeze it grated - defrosts very quicly even for sandwiches.
    your pastry - do you freeze it all watered and kneaded or at the breadcrumb stage?
    I'm going to feed our children non-organic food and with the money saved take them to the zoo - half man half biscuit 2008
  • thriftlady_2thriftlady_2 Forumite
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    Caramelised onions and grated cheese are both brilliant ideas :T

    I freeze the pastry ready to roll. I've heard of some people who roll out a round piece big enough to top a pie, and then store it rolled round a cardboard tube in the freezer -not tried that myself.
  • newlywednewlywed Forumite
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    I peel chop and cook carrots, parsnips and potatoes ready to add to casseroles and soups so they cook quicker (work full-time).

    Think the Tesco frozen kidney beans were about £1.59 for 500g as I was debating getting them but have no freezer room left in my small freezer! ;) As soon as we use some stocks up I'll be doing some of these - Thanks. :D
    working on clearing the clutter
  • lbt_2lbt_2 Forumite
    565 posts
    Thanks - some great ideas there. I have been meaning to make up some tomato sauce for ages. Do you whizz it up in the food processor once it is cooked? Is it a thick sauce?

    I do loads of batch cooking as I don't have time to cook from scratch every day, but my freezer is a bit low at the moment. Usually I cook a huge batch, and freeze in individual portions. I have some of the things you have as well as:

    Home made meals:
    Thai Chicken Curry (recipe from Weight Watchers and the best I have found)
    Bolognese/Chilli/Shepherds Pie
    Lasagne
    Steak and Kidney (huge batch made in the slow cooker, frozen as individual portions ready for pies)
    Beef in Guinness
    Chicken Casserole (minus the potatoes)
    Tuna Pasta Bake (only the sauce, ready to put straight on to the pasta and in the oven)
    Mushroom soup (also doubles to make a mushroom rissoto)
    Vegetable soup (also doubles as pasta sauce)
    Mashed potato
    Raw marinated meat/poultry such as teriaki turkey etc.

    Cheated - made from a jar:
    Sweet Chilli Chicken (& Sweet Chilli Quorn)
    Chicken in plum and hoi sin sauce
    Chicken Tikka Masala

    A friend of mine also makes and freezes fish pie and fish cakes, but I have never tried either.

    When we redo our garage I am going to buy a huge upright freezer so that I can fill it with different meals. I often find I run out of space with my two small freezers. There is so much more I could freeze.
  • thriftlady_2thriftlady_2 Forumite
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    LBT wrote: »
    Thanks - some great ideas there. I have been meaning to make up some tomato sauce for ages. Do you whizz it up in the food processor once it is cooked? Is it a thick sauce?

    .
    I usually blast it with my stick blender (usually before it's cooled down so I get splattered :rolleyes: ) It does turn out quite thick as I let it cook for quite a long time.


    I should say that I don't have all these things in my freezer at once -in fact it is pretty bare at the moment.
  • lbt_2lbt_2 Forumite
    565 posts
    Thanks - I'll try the tomato sauce - sounds lovely on some pasta with cheese on top.

    I am sure that you can tell by my freezer contents that I have two young children!!! I have to confess I do usually have all these at once in my freezer if I can squeeeeeeeeeeeeze them in :D

    I am going to try out fish pie and fish cakes, as well as home made burgers and home made greek meatballs in tomato sauce.

    Been reading up on the slow cooker threads this week, so I am going to make some stock at the weekend. Does it really make a difference to the taste of the food?
  • weezl74weezl74 Forumite
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    Good tips, thrift lady

    Herby ice cubes is a good trick. I pick my rosemary and sage on a nice day, chop and freeze ito icecubes, and then on a day like today I don't have to harvest them, just chuck a herby ice-cube in the dinner;)

    :hello:Jonathan 'Fergie' Fergus William, born 05/03/09, 7lb 4.4oz:hello:
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  • lbt_2lbt_2 Forumite
    565 posts
    weezl74 wrote: »
    Good tips, thrift lady

    Herby ice cubes is a good trick. I pick my rosemary and sage on a nice day, chop and freeze ito icecubes, and then on a day like today I don't have to harvest them, just chuck a herby ice-cube in the dinner;)

    I wish I'd thought of that - I have just thrown away two packets of herbs that I bought to make dinner and hubby came home with surprise dinner. Thanks :)
  • thriftlady_2thriftlady_2 Forumite
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    weezl74 wrote: »
    Good tips, thrift lady

    Herby ice cubes is a good trick. I pick my rosemary and sage on a nice day, chop and freeze ito icecubes, and then on a day like today I don't have to harvest them, just chuck a herby ice-cube in the dinner;)
    Gosh I wish I'd done that in the summer when my mint was in full swing :rolleyes: I just send one of the kids out for rosemary if it's raining :D
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