These recipe components give you the ultimate flexibility and great flavour so you can whip up an array of interesting dishes any time you want.
Proteins: Smaller meat cuts, such as stir-fry strips; sausages; and meatballs are excellent for building a quick meal because they cook quickly. Freeze them for up to two months and thaw overnight in the fridge. Don’t stress if you forget to take something out — frozen bacon strips, fish fillets and peeled raw shrimp can go right into the pan to cook. You can also save time and boost flavour by cubing, marinating and freezing extra-firm tofu so it’s ready to add to recipes (check out our Meatless Monday option for inspiration).
- Pro tip: Buy big packs of meat and freeze in portions that fit you — a single sausage for one or a quartet for a family of four — so you won’t have to thaw an entire package at once.
Sauces and pastes: Have leftover canned tomato paste, pesto, or Indian or Thai curry paste? Spoon it into small freezer bags, and freeze flat so you can break off pieces as you need them.
- Pro tip: This technique also works for half-full jars of cooking sauces and partial cans of coconut milk, which often linger in the fridge past their expiry dates.
Frozen vegetables: These veggies are picked in-season and frozen right away, so they taste terrific, and you can’t beat the convenience. Stock up on all your favourites, and don’t forget Compliments Frozen Diced Onions — you’ll avoid chopping (and tears!) and you can sauté them from frozen.
- Pro tip: You can roast some veggies straight from the freezer. Toss frozen broccoli, cauliflower or diced sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast on a baking sheet in a 200°C (400°F) oven until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
Frozen fruit: It’s not just for smoothies and desserts. Reach for frozen fruit when your savoury recipe needs a balancing hint of natural sweetness. Think pineapple or mango chunks in a curry, or pomegranate arils in a grain salad.
- Pro tip: Don’t bother thawing frozen berries — throw them straight into your oatmeal or morning yogurt. They can also add flavour to a glass of water.
Shredded hard or firm cheeses: A food processor makes fast work of shredding blocks of firm or hard cheese, such as cheddar or Parmesan. Scoop them into freezer bags, gently squeeze out the air and freeze flat to save space. They’ll melt easily from frozen and are perfect for quesadillas and pizzas.
Frozen grains, beans and pasta: Your future self will thank you when you cook two or three times the grains, beans or pasta you need for a recipe. They’re a delicious base for fried rice, pasta with sauce, beans-and-greens soup and quinoa salad.
- Pro tip: Spoon cooked grains, beans and pasta into bags and freeze flat to save space. To reheat, add a sprinkle of water before microwaving to keep them from drying out.
Pizza dough: Freeze balls of Compliments Pizza Dough or your fully risen homemade version so you’re ready for pizza night any time. Thaw it in the fridge overnight, and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling.
Flatbreads: Having a supply of flatbreads, such as pitas, naan and tortillas, in the freezer means quick snacks and meals are minutes away. Top frozen tortillas with refried beans and cheese, and then heat in a covered cast-iron pan until the bottom is golden and the cheese is melted. Or toss pita wedges with olive oil and bake in a 200°C (400°F) until crisp, and then serve with hummus or dips.
- Pro tip: Frozen flatbreads can be reheated in a jiffy. Wrap a stack in foil to keep it from drying out and warm in the oven. Or skip the foil and microwave for 30 seconds.