Be prepared and plan your meals ahead

You may be spending more time at home but that doesn’t mean you have to spend more time over the stove. Free yourself up to focus on your family and even yourself for a change. Here are some tips on freezing foods to make a meal stretch further.

Save time and money by preparing your week or month’s meals ahead of time – simply cook twice as much and freeze one meal.

Foods that freeze well

  • Pizzas – Simply defrost the night before, cut and pop in the microwave in the morning.
  • Bobotie and mince casseroles
  • Pies
  • Chicken casseroles
  • Soup
  • Chakalaka
  • Vegetable stews
  • Rice

Foods that don’t freeze well

  • Hard-boiled eggs will go rubbery.
  • Lettuce, cucumbers, bean sprouts and raw potatoes will turn mushy when thawed.
  • Egg-based sauces like mayonnaise will separate and curdle when thawed.
  • Dairy products such as cream, yoghurt, cream cheese, sour cream and cottage cheese will sometimes go watery when thawed.
  • Fried/fast foods like hot chips or chicken nuggets will lose their crunch and will turn soft and mushy.

Store it

  • Food can be frozen in aluminium foil pans, your own baking dishes or plastic containers.
  • Always fill up your plastic containers as much as you can. Then there won’t be space for air to get stuck inside – it is this air that can cause freezer burn.
  • Don’t freeze food in glass jars or containers. If the contents expand, the glass will break.

More tips

  • Let the food cool down before putting it in the freezer. Hot or warm food can defrost other items next to it.
  • Label and date the meals – the date will help you keep track on how long a meal has been frozen.
  • Most freezer meals can be kept in the freezer between one to three months, depending on the ingredients used. Use this chart as guideline for cold food storage.

Here are some great recipe ideas for dishes you can make that will freeze well.

Image: Getty/Gallo