MAKING the weekly shop stretch as far as possible can be challenging – but a good place to start is your freezer.
Even with the best intentions, an estimated 6.7 million tonnes of food gets binned every year.
Lauren Woodley, group nutrition leader at Nomad Foods, which makes the Birds Eye range, has revealed her frozen food tips
To find out how we can cut food waste by using frozen food, HOAR spoke to Lauren Woodley, group nutrition leader at Nomad Foods, which makes the Birds Eye range.
Lauren said UK households spend an average of £420 a year on food that is thrown away, based on a 2021 stat.
She added: “One of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce food waste is by choosing frozen foods and freezing leftovers.”
Despite most people having a freezer Lauren pointed out certain myths stop us from using them efficiently, and this can only cost us all money.
Here she debunks six common-held beliefs about frozen food.
Myth 1: Fresh food is better for you
There’s a common-held belief that fresh food loses its goodness when frozen, but is there any truth in this?
Lauren said: “Many people don’t realise it, but frozen food is just as nutritious as fresh, as the vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats are unchanged by the freezing process – and by freezing foods, we can avoid the loss of fragile vitamins such as vitamin C from foods.”
“By locking in nutrients over time, frozen vegetables and fruits can actually retain more vitamin C over time than fresh equivalents.
“This is why frozen fruit and vegetables count just as much as fresh counterparts towards our five-a-day, and frozen fish counts just as much as fresh fish towards our recommended two weekly portions.”
Myth 2: Fresh food tastes better
Taste and goodness go hand-in-hand, and again Lauren is keen to stress that there’s no drop off in flavour when food’s been frozen.
She said: “Concerning taste, as with any food, this is dependent on the quality of the food and its preparation.
“One of the sources of the myth that frozen food loses its flavour is people’s experience of improperly frozen food, or food that’s partially defrosted before re-freezing.”
Myth 3: You can’t freeze dairy products
Many people think there are some foods that you just can’t freeze for taste or safety reasons.
But, as Lauren pointed out, the range of foodstuffs that can be popped in the freezer is surprisingly wide.
“It may be surprising that you can freeze eggs and dairy foods such as milk and cheese really well,” said Lauren.
“This is great to know if you’re going away on holiday and want some milk ready to defrost on your arrival home, or if you overstocked up for Pancake Day.”
Confusion about what can and can’t be frozen is one factor that leads to food waste.
But, Lauren has a quick tip for anyone who’d like to know more about what you can freeze if you have leftovers or you can buy frozen.
“I’d recommend really exploring your local supermarket’s frozen aisles the next time you’re shopping.
“You’re likely to be pleasantly surprised by the huge variety of different frozen foods available nowadays, from vegetable mixes to fresh seafood, cookie dough, and even avocados.”
Myth 4: For the best results put fresh veg straight in the freezer
You might think that a quick rinse is all your vegetables need before going into a deep freeze.
But there are benefits to a little more preparation.
Lauren explains: “The frozen vegetables you find in supermarkets will have been blanched before being frozen.
“Blanching is a short submersion in hot water, which helps the vegetables retain their colour and overall freshness while frozen.
“So, although vegetables don’t need to be blanched first before being frozen, blanching improves the quality of frozen veg.”
Myth 5: All fruit and veg can be frozen
The supermarkets are full of buy-one-get-one-free offers, including on items that have a short shelf life, such as bags of salad leaves.
While bulk buying can be a handy way to make savings, it can be a false economy if you’re planning to freeze certain goods.
Lauren told us: “Unfortunately, vegetables with very high-water contents are not ideal for freezing – so salad vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes shouldn’t be stored in the freezer.”
While salads might not be ideal for freezing, certain leafy produce would be.
“A great tip is to freeze leftover herbs – once they’ve been thoroughly washed,” she said.
“Freezing herbs avoids wasting money, and you can throw frozen herbs directly into sauces, soups and other dishes from the freezer.”
Myth 6: There’s no difference between supermarket and home frozen foods
You might think that a frozen leftover meal or fresh broccoli will be the same regardless of whether they’ve been frozen at home or in a factory.
But there are some differences, as Lauren explained: “Foods frozen to be sold in supermarkets will be frozen using a process called ‘flash freezing’.
“By very quickly freezing foods the ice crystals formed are very small, meaning the food’s texture, colour and taste isn’t affected by the freezing process.
“Home freezing isn’t as quick as flash freezing, therefore ice crystals form more slowly and are bigger, meaning there can be an impact on the texture of foods.
“Either way, by freezing food we prevent heat, oxygen and bacteria spoiling the food, so both methods can help ensure food stays fresh for longer.”
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