Freezing food is a handy way of storing basic ingredients and leftovers in order to make them last that little bit longer.
Though the government has advised that there's no need to stockpile food, some shoppers are struggling to find what they need at the supermarket.
As such, freezing food is a great way to make sure what you do have lasts a little longer in case of temporarily empty supermarket shelves.
While some foods can be frozen safely, others should be kept well away from the freezer - and you should follow certain rules to avoid food poisoning.
Here’s what you should know about freezing food.
What food and drink items can you freeze?
Many basic ingredients - as well as meal leftovers - can be frozen. The process of doing so allows them to last longer and avoids food waste.
In spite of what many think, freezing doesn’t necessarily kill nutrients either - and is a great way to store food without using chemical preservatives. Dr Joanna McMillan told Australia’s Today show:
“Freezing is a really amazing way of preserving our food because you don't have to use chemical preservatives,” Dr McMillan said.
“It’s actually one of the oldest means of preserving foods [...] I think we under-utilise the freezer in today’s age where we think everything that’s fresh is better for us and it’s actually not the truth.”
Leftovers that freeze well include pasta bakes, soups, stews, casseroles and lasagne.
Foods that you can freeze
- Bread, either as a whole loaf, slices or in breadcrumbs
- Grated cheese
- Cooked pasta (some recommend slightly under-cooked pasta is best to avoid soggy texture when defrosting)
- Flour (and you can use this directly from the freezer)
- Grated cheese
- Peeled bananas
- Eggs, if cracked into containers
- Meat, raw or cooked
- Soup, casserole and most other cooked leftovers - but double check online if you are unsure
- Milk - though as it will expand, you mustn't store it in a glass bottle. The texture and taste may also be slightly affected upon defrosting
While you can freeze most foods fine, there are some foods which lose texture from defrosting, or separate from being put in the freezer.
Foods that you can't or shouldn't freeze
- Dishes with crumb toppings (as they will go soggy)
- Sour cream or any other cream-based products
- Salad greens
- Raw fruits and veg (as the texture may go soggy when defrosted)
- Potatoes (these will also go mushy when defrosted)
- Cans of food
- Mayo, as it'll separate
How can I safely freeze food?
Most food can be safely frozen, as long as you follow some basic safety tips - the most important of all being allowing food to cool down properly before you freeze it.
It’s also key to remember that the process of freezing food doesn’t eliminate all bacteria, so freezing something right before it goes off isn’t necessarily the best idea. You’re always best to freeze items when they are fresh.
How to safely freeze items:
- Cool down food before you freeze it - otherwise the heat could cause other food in the freezer to begin defrosting
- The more full your freezer is, the more economical it is to run
- You should only refreeze food if you're cooking it inbetween, e.g. if you thaw mince to make bolognese you can re-freeze it after cooking it
- Make sure to wrap your food properly or put in sealed containers
- Throw out anything you might think has gone off - freezing doesn't kill bacteria
- Label your food so you don't forget what it is - it's also helpful to add a date so you know when you put it in
- If ice builds up, make sure to defrost your freezer - the contents will usually be fine in the fridge while you do this