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  • FIRST POST
    • thriftlady
    • By thriftlady 9th Oct 07, 12:35 PM
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    thriftlady
    Meal building blocks for the freezer
    • #1
    • 9th Oct 07, 12:35 PM
    Meal building blocks for the freezer 9th Oct 07 at 12:35 PM
    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


    Last edited by Former MSE Wendy; 06-11-2007 at 8:07 PM.
Page 1
  • Willpower?
    • #2
    • 9th Oct 07, 12:44 PM
    • #2
    • 9th Oct 07, 12:44 PM
    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.
    • stefejb
    • By stefejb 9th Oct 07, 12:50 PM
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    stefejb
    • #3
    • 9th Oct 07, 12:50 PM
    • #3
    • 9th Oct 07, 12:50 PM
    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
    • By thriftlady 9th Oct 07, 12:58 PM
    • 9,089 Posts
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    thriftlady
    • #4
    • 9th Oct 07, 12:58 PM
    • #4
    • 9th Oct 07, 12:58 PM
    Caramelised onions and grated cheese are both brilliant ideas

    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.
    • newlywed
    • By newlywed 9th Oct 07, 1:00 PM
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    newlywed
    • #5
    • 9th Oct 07, 1:00 PM
    • #5
    • 9th Oct 07, 1:00 PM
    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.
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  • lbt
    • #6
    • 9th Oct 07, 1:16 PM
    • #6
    • 9th Oct 07, 1:16 PM
    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.
    Last edited by lbt; 09-10-2007 at 1:19 PM. Reason: Missed a bit!!
    • thriftlady
    • By thriftlady 9th Oct 07, 1:30 PM
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    thriftlady
    • #7
    • 9th Oct 07, 1:30 PM
    • #7
    • 9th Oct 07, 1:30 PM
    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?

    .
    Originally posted by lbt
    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
    • #8
    • 9th Oct 07, 1:36 PM
    • #8
    • 9th Oct 07, 1:36 PM
    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

    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?
  • weezl74
    • #9
    • 9th Oct 07, 1:48 PM
    herby ice-cubes
    • #9
    • 9th Oct 07, 1:48 PM
    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

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  • lbt
    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
    Originally posted by weezl74
    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
    • By thriftlady 9th Oct 07, 2:08 PM
    • 9,089 Posts
    • 28,909 Thanks
    thriftlady
    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
    Originally posted by weezl74
    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
    • tmm aka tracy
    • By tmm aka tracy 9th Oct 07, 2:40 PM
    • 112 Posts
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    tmm aka tracy
    I like to buy the bags of herbs (basil, corriander, basil and Rosemary) when they are reduced to around 19p at Asda and Tesco and just throw them straight into the freezer. No messing when you want to enhance a curry or other type of stew.
    • pavlovs_dog
    • By pavlovs_dog 9th Oct 07, 2:56 PM
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    pavlovs_dog
    this is something that i'd been planning to do for ages - thank you thriftlady for the inspiration and motivation
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  • Mrs Flittersnoop
    I find the Panasonic bread dough programme makes too much for one pizza (we're usually a two person household) and so I freeze half in a block ready to thaw and roll and top with (pre-frozen) pizza toppings too. Quick and easy especially if you have also got frozen grated cheese too, instant margarita pizza.

    Great ideas, Thriftlady! I only wish I had room in my freezer for more 'building blocks', am bulllying DH into clearing out the garage so I can have another freezer out there, but not having much luck, so far :rolleyes:

    Mrs F x
    • Blairweech
    • By Blairweech 9th Oct 07, 3:39 PM
    • 1,379 Posts
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    Blairweech
    With things like white sauce, tomato sauce etc - if you freeze it, then make it into a meal...can the meal then be frozen? I don't know if this means the sauce would be frozen twice, or does this only matter with meat?
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  • misskool
    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.
    Originally posted by Willpower?
    I love onions in loads of cooking, does the onion taste soggy when you defrost it?

    Normally have some deep fried onions in a jar and then drop a few at the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
    • thriftlady
    • By thriftlady 9th Oct 07, 3:55 PM
    • 9,089 Posts
    • 28,909 Thanks
    thriftlady
    With things like white sauce, tomato sauce etc - if you freeze it, then make it into a meal...can the meal then be frozen? I don't know if this means the sauce would be frozen twice, or does this only matter with meat?
    Originally posted by Blairweech
    Good question, I think the answer is that you shouldn't refreeze the sauce. Having said that I frequently freeze leftover soup that has been made with frozen stock and it has never done us any harm.
  • theverylast
    Just a thought that your 'building blocks' comment gave me...

    If you freeze the food in rectangular containers, you can pop out the frozen food into freezer bags, wrap them tightly and then label them on the sides - store them like books or videos in the freezer (if it's big enough), and you don't have to spend ages rooting around for them!

    (Competition now to find the first person whose freezer is in alphabetical order...)
    • thriftlady
    • By thriftlady 9th Oct 07, 4:04 PM
    • 9,089 Posts
    • 28,909 Thanks
    thriftlady
    Just a thought that your 'building blocks' comment gave me...

    If you freeze the food in rectangular containers, you can pop out the frozen food into freezer bags, wrap them tightly and then label them on the sides - store them like books or videos in the freezer (if it's big enough), and you don't have to spend ages rooting around for them!

    (Competition now to find the first person whose freezer is in alphabetical order...)
    Originally posted by theverylast
    Brilliant idea -my freezer contents aren't alphabetical, but I do have an inventory of them I put a / for each lb of mince(for example) and then cross it when I've used one.
    • newlywed
    • By newlywed 9th Oct 07, 4:08 PM
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    newlywed
    (Competition now to find the first person whose freezer is in alphabetical order...)
    Originally posted by theverylast
    Please don't even give my neat freak OH the idea - he'd throw a fit every time I took a letter of the alphabet out!!!!
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