Monday, November 09, 2009

Ice Queen.

That was the not-so-endearing nickname given to me in high school by a group of girls who wanted to date my boyfriend. The relationship didn't last longer than a year, but these days I'm embracing the name. Let me explain.

Regular readers of this blog probably know that I am, shall we say, frugal. I am also comfortable describing myself as a tight-ass, a miser, a penny-pincher, etc. I have a hard time buying things that are not on special, and those reduced-to-clear stickers on grocery store shelves set my heart aflutter.

But this kind of lifestyle has the potential to stifle a diet full of variety. When your grocery focus is on sale items, you end up with a glut of one or two things for a few weeks, and then you wave goodbye to that item until it is in season again. Part of eating cheaply and locally is getting used to that. But, there is a partial remedy--become an Ice Queen (or, king).

It is amazing what you can get away with freezing for later. Yesterday I saw broccoli for $3 a kilo, so I got four heads and chopped them up, popped them in a plastic bag and stuck them straight into the freezer. I regularly freeze baked goods, and you can't keep bread for more than two days here without freezing it--the humidity means it goes mouldy very quickly. Vegetable stock, pumpkin (cooked and raw), capsicums, fruit, bread crumbs, minced herbs, beans--all are stored in our freezer.

I recently experimented with lemons, which we got 6-for-$1 from the markets. I know you can freeze the juice for later use, but I was curious about the zest. Before juicing, I zested all the lemons and filled up a few jars, and yesterday I used some of the frozen zest with good results. Now there's no need to ever leave fresh zest out of recipes.

Life would be much easier if we had a big chest freezer, but since we rent a small unit, we are confined to our little top freezer, but with a bit of planning it's amazing what you can squeeze in.
My freezer a year ago-- ice cream, tater tots, roasted pumpkin, fresh noodles, minced coriander, chopped broccoli, seitan, broadbeans, pressure-cooked beans, tofu, puff pastry, chopped spinach, diced carrots, coffee, pizza dough, bread rolls, and green peas.

My freezer this year -- bananas, ice cream green peas, raw pumpkin, capsicum, leftover chilli, leftover baked beans, jars of beans, lemon juice and zest, muffins, puff pastry, and a space for a loaf of bread.

A few tips:

Before you freeze, prepare everything. Chop vegetables, peel bananas, slice bread, etc. In terms of packing, there are two options. One is to wrap things in single-use sizes, for instance freezing lemon juice in ice cube trays or keeping chopped veggies in sandwich bags. The other is to put them into one big bag and take out a little bit as you need it. To do this successfully, close the bag off loosely for the first few hours, so that your veggies or baked goods don't freeze into one big clump. For things like stock, beans, hummus, pesto and bread crumbs, use empty jam jars--just make sure to leave a bit of space for liquids to expand as they freeze. Try not to leave anything for longer than three months, so you're eating it fresh and also to make room for your next batch of freezer items.

So embrace your inner Ice Queen and enjoy good-as-fresh, homemade food even when it's not exactly in season.


Tara said...

Thanks for the great tips! I really should freeze more produce.

Bianca said...

I'm a freezer too. I tend to make large meals and freeze individual servings for quick lunches. I also freeze all breads and baked goods straight from the oven. But, now my freezer is overflowing. Mine is about the same size as yours. I'd kill for one of those giant deep freezers!

DJ said...

I love this post - you're a woman after my own heart! The key to being thrify and frugal is being organised and freezer is reeeeeallly helpful for that purpose!

Vaala said...

The freezer is my life saver! Thanks for the tip about the lemon zest...had no idea that would freeze okay (although I do attempt to freeze pretty much anything!).

Mike K said...

As a fellow penny-pincher, it's amazing what you can save by freezing or canning, though I've been too lazy to do any canning this fall. Thanks for the tips on freezable items, and show that nickname is nothing to be ashamed of :)

I'm Philippa O said...

i'm exactly the same. i dream of a big chest freezer to store all my bulk buys, but alas, ours is the size of a bread box and shared between 4 people. thanks for the tips though

oviya said...

My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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