Recently, I made a video tour of my pantry.
OK, I know that sounds a little strange. Allow me to explain.
One of the modules in my Solve Your Dinner Dilemma virtual cooking class, covers how to stock a pantry, along with some life-saving pantry recipes. So the pantry video tour was to illustrate an example of a working pantry.
Anyway, while I was filming, I started thinking how I really should use my freezer as an extension of my pantry. And that it would be great to show my students my freezer as well.
On quick inspection, my freezer was looking like it had been banished to Siberia, rather than a wonderful source of last minute meals. So the freezer tour idea was promptly scrapped.
Not long afterwards, I was contacted by Susan Austin, a friend of a fabulous friend who has written a cookbook called Frost Bite: Easy Cooking for Your Freezer. Would I be interested in having a look? Absolutely.
So inspired by Susan’s inventive book, here are 8 ideas to save time using your freezer.
1. keep a stock of frozen vegetables.
While fresh tends to be best from a taste perspective (apart from frozen peas), frozen veg can save valuable time. And lets face it, frozen vegetables are better for you than no veg. Chopped and ready to go, things like frozen broccoli, spinach, cauliflower and beans cook in about the same amount of time as fresh, but save valuable minutes in the prep area.
2. make sandwiches for lunches in advance.
Susan’s book has a heap of suggestions for making school (or adult) sandwiches in bulk and freezing so in the mornings you just need to pull them out and they’re good to go. Filling suggestions include cooked meats, canned fish, cheese, pesto and more.
3. freeze cooked foods that will defrost in a lunchbox.
If you’re bored with sandwiches, it doesn’t mean you can’t also take advantage of the freezer lunch idea. Especially great for dishes that can defrost during the morning and be eaten at room temperature. Lentil salads, fried rice, and meatballs are a few ideas to get you started.
4. make brunch in advance
While having people over for brunch can be a wonderful way to catch up, who wants to get up super early to prepare a feast? I love Susan’s brunch chapter with recipes for cheat-day pancakes, corn breads, muffins, pastries and pies.
5. freeze fresh meat & fish prepared ready for the oven.
Prepare your raw proteins with marinades, stuffings or herb crusts so they’re ready to bake or BBQ as soon as they’re defrosted. A great tip for stress-free entertaining.
6. freeze leftovers and small portions.
I’ve avoided stating the obvious about the whole cook in bulk and freeze for later idea. Leftovers, however, are something that I rarely think to freeze. Perfect for small households who aren’t keen on eating leftovers the next day.
7. freeze cookie dough ready to bake.
Next time I make a batch of these cookies, I’m going to be freezing what I don’t need for another day. Can’t wait.
8. freeze cooked desserts and cakes.
The thing with baking is you tends to end up with more cake than needed, which can lead to over indulgence. Freezing for later is a brilliant way to avoid temptation and waste.
simple vegetarian supper menu
chickpea burgers with yoghurt sauce
cucumber ribbon salad
chickpea burgers with yoghurt sauce
Inspired by Susan Austin’s chickpea & roasted capsicum patties from ‘Frost Bite: Easy Cooking for Your Freezer’. Susan recommends cooking the chickpea patties and then freezing to reheat direct from frozen either in the oven or a fry pan.
While I LOVE the flavours in these burgers, they are quite fragile, even with the egg to bind them. I’ve found it’s important not to over-process the chickpeas to help avoid your burgers falling apart in the pan. Just pulse until chopped.
The good news is they still taste delicious if they do happen to fall apart.
1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz), drained
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 cup roasted red capsicum (bell pepper), diced
6 – 8 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1. Pulse chickpeas and cumin in a food processor for a few seconds or until roughly chopped. You don’t want a smooth puree here.
2. Crack egg into a small bowl and whisk lightly. Add egg and pulse again for a few seconds.
3. Fold capsicum into the chickpeas by hand so it keeps its shape. Season and using your hands, form into 2 burgers. Pop in the fridge for a few minutes.
4. Heat a small fry pan on a medium high heat. Add a little oil and cook burgers for around 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Being careful when turning so they don’t fall apart.
5. Meanwhile, stir yoghurt in a small bowl until smooth and season generously.
6. Serve burgers with yoghurt on top and cucumber salad (recipe below) on the side.
serves 2 as a side
My Irishman is allergic to cucumber, so I rarely use it. But I was looking for something different to a shaved zucchini salad to serve with the chickpea burgers and the cucumbers just jumped out at me.
This salad will stay crunchy in the fridge for a few days but won’t go so well in the freezer. Feel free to add in some fresh coriander (cilantro) or parsley leaves for a bit more greenness.
2 lebanese cucumbers
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Peel ribbons from the outside of the cucumbers, stopping when you get to the seeds. Discard seeds and place ribbons in a small bowl.
2. Season with salt and pepper then toss in lemon juice.
video version of the recipes
Do you struggle to find time to fit cooking into your busy schedule?
Then Solve Your Dinner Dilemma [fresh ideas] class is just the thing for you.