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Our top freezing tips to make food last longer

When it comes to making your food last longer, freezing is one of the best ways to extend your food’s shelf life.

The vast majority of food can be frozen to cook or eat at a later date, instead of foods spoiling in the fridge. From meat and fish to dairy products, freezing is one of many ways to reduce food waste at home.

We’ve put together some freezing tips to inspire your household and to help your food budget go further.

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Freezing fruit and veg

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Fruit and vegetables are just as nutritious frozen as they are when fresh, so don’t hold back when it comes to freezing them.

If you’ve overestimated what you need or simply haven’t had time to use your fresh fruit and vegetables, chop them up and pop them in the freezer. Buying bags of frozen fruit and vegetables from the supermarket is also a brilliant way to reduce any waste as you only use what you need for each recipe.

Frozen veg such as peas, beans, carrots, spinach or fresh herbs can be used directly from the freezer in a range of meals, and fruits like banana, mango, strawberries and raspberries make an excellent base for smoothies, homemade ice creams and sorbets.

Also, a clever way to use up any leftover pulp from juices is to add it to ice cube trays with water for a refreshing addition to your drink - cucumber, apple, or ginger all work well.

Making bread and dough go further

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In the UK almost 900k tonnes of bread is thrown away every year - or 24 million slices every day.

By freezing loaves of bread, you can cut down on your bread waste significantly - just defrost the number of slices that you need or take slices from the freezer to make toast. You can also make breadcrumbs or croutons and store them in sealed freezer bags, thawing them before use.

Dough is also a great thing to keep in your freezer - think pizza, cookie or cinnamon bun doughs. For pizza and bun doughs, let them rise first and divide them into portions before freezing.

Freezing dairy products

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Some people have concerns about freezing dairy products, but as long as you follow storage advice and label your foods, you can safely freeze them.

Milk, butter, hard cheeses and egg whites can be frozen for a few months (check this Which? guide for precise timings).

- Milk can be frozen for one month but can become lumpy when defrosted, so it's mostly suitable for using in cooking

- Butter or margarine can be frozen for up to 3 months

- You can grate any leftover cheese and store it in a container or freezer bag, then sprinkle it onto baked pasta dishes or pies etc

- Egg whites can be stored in freezer bags and placed flat in the freezer - perfect for making meringues or frittatas once defrosted.

Making homemade stock

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Meat and vegetable stocks taste better when they’re homemade and don’t need to take forever to make.

A useful tip is to save any vegetable peelings (such as carrot or potato) that you have from cooking and add them to a container in the freezer. When you have a decent amount, you can then add them to a pan with fresh trimmings such as herbs and aromatics to make a delicious stock.

The next time you roast meat, the cooking juices can also be saved and frozen then used to make a stock to add to risotto, soups etc. Batch cooking and freezing leftover meals is another great way to avoid food waste and means you have some ready-made meals in your freezer for busy days.

You can cook larger quantities of curries, soups and stews and portion them into containers for the freezer, or freeze any leftover portions of food when you cook. They can then be reheated and eaten at a later date - which not only saves time and energy, but also ensures that all ingredients are used in one go.

Batch cooking and freezing leftovers

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Batch cooking and freezing leftover meals is another great way to avoid food waste and means you have some ready-made meals in your freezer for busy days.

You can cook larger quantities of curries, soups and stews and portion them into containers for the freezer, or freeze any leftover portions of food when you cook. They can then be reheated and eaten at a later date - which not only saves time and energy, but also ensures that all ingredients are used in one go.

Safely freezing and defrosting food

We recommend following this freezing, defrosting and reheating advice at home:

- When freezing food or leftover meals, allow it to cool thoroughly and then freeze as soon as possible afterwards

- Store food in strong plastic freezer bags or freezer-safe sealed containers with a lid

- Clearly label food with the contents, freezing date and use by date

- Follow advice for how long to store your food in the freezer

- When defrosting food, thaw thoroughly in the fridge and eat within 24 hours. Do not refreeze food after it has thawed

- When reheating foods, ensure that they are piping hot before serving

Follow more of our tips on how to reduce food waste at home, here.