How to cook with frozen food

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Your freezer is a powerful ally when it comes to making sure no fresh food you buy ever goes to waste, but shop-bought frozen foods are worth exploring too. You might be surprised by just how much you’re able to incorporate frozen foods into your cooking – and by how much time it can save you! Here are a few ideas for making the most of frozen foods without compromising on taste…

Always read the packaging!

Before we go any further, a quick note on cooking instructions. While fresh meat needs to be defrosted before cooking – you can find out more about this in our guide to freezing and defrosting meat and poultry – the freezer products you’ll find in the supermarket can be cooked from frozen (such as frozen burgers or fishfingers). Always make the product’s packaging your first port of call and read its freezing and defrosting guidelines carefully. 

In this article, we’ll look at how to use shop-bought frozen food, which comes with its own instructions. But if you’d like to learn more about freezing, defrosting and using your own fresh food, there’s lots more advice in our food storage A-Z guide

Frozen fruit and veg

Foods you’ve bought frozen can be cooked from frozen, so you won’t need to allow time to defrost them first. It’s always useful to have some frozen fruit and veg in the freezer so that you can add it to a dish when you need it, without wasting the rest of the pack. Here are a few ideas:

  • Frozen veg is great for adding bulk and nutrition to anything from pasta dishes (try adding some frozen peas) to casseroles and stews (frozen carrots and mixed veg), and from stir-fries (frozen peppers) to chowder (frozen sweetcorn). 
  • Frozen spinach goes in practically any hot savoury recipe for extra healthiness – it’s a good alternative to buying a massive bag of fresh spinach that you’ll only use part of. 
  • Frozen butternut squash cubes are great for avoiding the hassle of chopping up a fresh squash.
  • Frozen diced onion takes the tears out of dealing with raw onion!
  • Frozen potato products such as chips, mashed potato, roast potatoes and hash browns are a quick and easy way to bulk out a meal. These can only be reheated once, so try to pour out only as many as you think you’ll eat!
  • Frozen fruit is great for blending into smoothies, cooking into a compote or adding into your baking, or you can serve frozen berries with piping hot custard for a tasty dessert.

Remember, if you’re planning to use shop-bought frozen vegetables in cold dishes such as salads or smoothies, check the instructions on the packaging carefully – you’ll very likely need to cook them first. 

Of course, as well as buying frozen fruit and veg from the supermarket, you can also freeze your own! Take a look at our A-Z guide to food storage to learn the secrets of freezing and defrosting all your favourite fruit and veg.

Bake-from-frozen pastry and cookie dough

The UK wastes £47 million of morning goods each year, including croissants. But with the frozen variety, nothing goes to waste! You can buy ready-to-bake croissants, pastries, ready to pop in the oven and cook from frozen for a delicious breakfast that doesn’t just save food – it saves you having to pop out to buy them fresh. Frozen cookie dough is great for when you have unexpected guests, as you can treat them to homemade cookies without having to do any actual baking!

Bread

You can toast bread from frozen and transform it into all kinds of delicious meals. Take a look at our healthy toast toppers for some inspiration.

Yorkshire puddings

Planning a Sunday roast? Save yourself the hassle of whipping up batter by using frozen Yorkshire puddings. As we’ve already mentioned, you could use frozen roast potatoes, too!

Frozen herbs and other seasonings

Frozen herbs are a great way to add flavour to your cooking, and using frozen ones means you won’t have to worry about using up a bag of fresh herbs before they go off. And on the subject of flavourings, you can even buy frozen chillis, ginger, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes – all ideal for making your cooking even tastier.

The beauty of frozen food is that it saves time, saves money and saves food – so it’s a win, win, win! Even better, it lasts ages, makes it easy to use only what you need and helps cut down the amount of food that’s not used up before it goes off. Take a look at our post on foods you didn’t know you could freeze for even more inspiration.

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