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freezer food advice please

(9 Posts)
Mumstudentbum Sun 23-Oct-16 19:44:43

We need to save for a house so instead of waiting until January for the new year new start crap we are starting our money/ time saving now.

As my hours will be increasing at work and university I was thinking about buying a second freezer. At the moment i cook everything from scratch and might as well cook extra and freeze, and/or buy extra frozen veg to save time. soooo ...

What are peoples experiences with freezer meals? what works well and what doesn't work so well? I do have a slow cooker but heard slow cooked meals don't reheat too well? Theres 5 of us by the way (2 adults 3 dcs) tia

LegoCaltrops Sun 23-Oct-16 19:55:29

Some slow cooked meals reheat just fine, more so if you have a microwave (which I don't). Soup, for example. Try looking on Pinterest, especially for "dump and go" slow cooker meals (meaning you can pre-prep the ingredients in a freezer bag, perhaps several batches at a time, then defrost & use as needed. Obviously you'd need meat etc that was not previously frozen for this.

I use my slow cooker a lot in winter, it's fab for making a meagre amount of cheap meat - eg cheap end of lamb neck, or beef shin or brisket, go a really long way. Dumplings are good if the soup or stew is on the thin side.

There are loads of "slow cooker" threads on here every winter. Recently:

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/food_and_recipes/2758530-your-absolute-favourite-slow-cooker-recipe

And, my recipes, copied from another thread:

Lamb stew. Very cheap, tasty, dairy free, can be fairly low fat. Does require a certain amount of "hands on" time to pick over the meat.

A piece of lamb (cheap end of neck, whatever), put it in the slow cooker with a very generous amount of water & couple of bayleaves Cook until the lamb is easily falling off the bones. Leave to cool completely . The fat will rise & solidify at the top, skim off with a spatula. Take lamb off the bones & remove any remaining fat. Strain the stock if you want. Put the meat & stock back in the slow cooker, add some soaked, dried beans (I especially like butter beans for this) & pearl barley. Cook until they are nearly done. Add some sliced carrots, potatoes, cook until tender. Maybe add dumplings for the last 30 mins, especially if you need to stretch the recipe to make several meals. Season to taste.
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We also like sausage / pork & bean stew. Again, fairly cheap.

If you have time, brown some cubed pork pieces & a diced onion in a pan, or just put them straight into the slow cooker. Add some dried beans (eg cannellini & chickpeas). A tin of tomatoes, & enough water to generously cover. I also add a tin of baked beans - it adds some seasoning & thickens the sauce. Add a bayleaf or your choice of herbs. (I use Savory for this - you can't buy it in the shops but it absolutely grows like a weed in a sunny spot outside.) At some point grill some sausages, then cut up & add into the slow cooker. I find this recipe pretty useful for using up odd bits of winter veg, too.

AnnieAutumnMouse Sun 23-Oct-16 20:09:36

I happened to spot this on FB
The idea is to prepare slow cooker ingredients in advance, so you just bung them all in to cook in the morning/night before, so it's freshly cooked, but pre-prepared
www.facebook.com/ispendwithpennies/photos/a.251445088205102.82477.251439674872310/1444803085535957/?type=3&theater

LegoCaltrops Sun 23-Oct-16 20:11:29

Regarding non slow-cooker type meals, you just need to consider 2 things really: will it survive the freezing / defrosting process, & what's the best method of storing it. For example, I find that veg curry always goes hideously watery so I don't freeze it. Dahl, on the other, hand, fab. It's trial & error but very few things will be rendered inedible by going in the freezer.

Storage - by which I mean containers. Obviously if you are going to buy lots of pots of various sizes, that will cost a fair bit. You can freeze stuff in freezer bags, including stew, but it's a pain to keep tidy. So I put it in a freezer bag, in a rectangular storage box, so it freezes into a rectangular block. (About 3-4 small or 2 larger boxes should be sufficient to manage a batch of food.) You then gently pull the bag out & reuse the box for the next batch of whatever you've made. The blocks will then stack neatly together. Make sure you get decent quality freezer bags - cheap ones can become brittle in the cold, or tear as you pull them out of the rectangular boxes.

Foil containers from the pound shop can work out economical but I suspect you might get them cheaper online. Good for shepherds pie etc.

Make sure you label everything with what it is & when you made it.

If possible, try to organise the freezer. We have a tall American style freezer (it's taller than I am) & we have a drawer each for fish, meat, veg/fruit, bread, ready meals/convenience foods, & ice cream/sweet things. It's way easier to find something if you can narrow it down to just one drawer or area, it won't need defrosting as often (as it won't be open as long each time) & your hands won't get frostbite each dinnertime.

LegoCaltrops Sun 23-Oct-16 20:15:14

AnnieAutumnMouse - that is exactly what I meant by "dump & go" meals, thankyou! I am off to check out those recipes now! grin

Mumstudentbum Sun 23-Oct-16 20:36:22

oo thanks some great suggestions here! i have frozen things like bolognese and chicken curry before and thats turned out fine. I was worried about veggie dishes going mushy so will try making some of these into soups or add dumplings to them.

off to check out the links above smile

FormerlyCatherineDeB Sun 23-Oct-16 20:40:26

I cooked this today, doubled the quantity and have three freezer meals plus dinner tonight.

www.deliaonline.com/recipes/international/american-mexican-and-caribbean/black-bean-chilli-with-avocado-salsa

The beef was £10 for 2lb skirt, beans £1.50, I had everything else. So perhaps £5 a meal but meat from a lovely village butcher not sure if that would be cheaper elsewhere.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Sun 23-Oct-16 20:45:13

We've no room for a second freezer, if we did I would use it to stock up on cheap meat deals - buy one, get one free and 3 for £10 deals.

Mumstudentbum Thu 27-Oct-16 18:53:13

yer i suppose they would be good deals lonny i often see big joints of meat on offer at our butchers and think 'if only i had a bigger freezer' so a second freezer would be able to store these. I'm going to have to put the second freezer under the steps in our bedroom. Ive measured up though and I'm surprised how big a freezer i could fit under there!

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