Cooling appliances are an essential part of our kitchens, but are you using yours to their full potential? Whilst it’s handy to have a small stock of frozen ready meals or pizzas when you’re struggling for ideas, smart use of your fridge-freezer can lead to saving money, cutting down on food waste and speeding up your cooking times.
In the same way, it’s important to organise your fridge in an efficient way to make life easier in the kitchen. Some clever planning will help you prolong the life of fresh foods and a well-organized fridge is vital to cooking hassle-free.
To help ensure you make the most out of your cooling appliances, here’s some tips to bear in mind.
Cook larger batches
Maximise efficiency, cut down on waste and save yourself time in the long run, by cooking double your usual portions for evening meals. From curries and casseroles to gravy and sauces, getting into the habit of cooking double batches and freezing the leftovers is a failsafe way of cutting down on waste and making the most out of your appliance. Whenever you’re low on inspiration you can head straight to the freezer for a wholesome dish, rather than a ready meal. And when you’re rushing through the morning and you don’t have time to prep, you’ll always have a work lunch to grab.
Consider storage prep
Resist the temptation to put food straight into the freezer in its original packaging and you’ll reap the rewards. Unpacking and re-wrapping your food in clingfilm or placing it in separate zip-lock freezer bags makes defrosting quicker and organisation much simpler.
Having to cook rice can really slow you down when you want to quickly reheat that frozen curry you saved, so try freezing leftover cooked grains and storing them in a plastic container. This trick can also be used for grains like quinoa and couscous. If you don’t know what to do with a bunch of fresh herbs, try placing them in ice trays and pouring over olive oil. You’ll have ready-to-use, herb-infused oils ready to drop into soups, sauces and stews.
It’s tempting to throw food into the freezer wherever you can find the space, but a little more consideration will make sure you’re not awkwardly routing around. As well as saving hassle, it also means you won’t need to leave the freezer door open for too long, which allows warm air into the appliance.
Separating your food:
Meat, poultry and fish: Store raw meat and poultry in clean, sealed containers in the bottom of the freezer.
Fruit and veg: Store in sealed containers. Peel bananas before freezing.
Bread, pastry and chips: Separate into individual portions.
Freeze these items:
- Butter and margarine – 3 months
- Grated cheese can be frozen – 4 months
- Most bread – 3 months
- Milk – 1 month. Defrost in the fridge and shake well before using
- Raw pastry will freeze for 6 months
Don’t freeze these items:
- Raw eggs
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Vegetables with a high-water content, such as lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts and radishes
- Soft herbs, like parsley, basil and chives are fine for incorporating in dishes but won’t be good as garnish
- Egg-based sauces, such as mayonnaise
- Plain yoghurt, low-fat cream cheese, single cream and cottage cheese
- Store milk in the coolest area of the fridge – the bottom shelf ideally, or the bottom door shelf for convenience
- Keep butter in the top door shelf
- Cheese should be stored in the warmest part of the fridge (the top). Keep cheese in a plastic container
- Creams and yoghurts should be kept in a visible spot, so the expiration date is easily viewed
- Fresh vegetables and herbs should be stored in the drawers at the bottom of the fridge
- Ideally fruit should be stored in a low humidity drawer
- Fish – 2 days
- Red meat, sausages and poultry – 3 days
- Deli meats and fish – 1 week
- Casseroles, curries, and stews – 2-3 days
- Cooked vegetables – 1-2 days
- Cooked pasta or grains – 1-2 days