It’s that time of year where supermarkets slash the cost of vegetables in the run the up to Christmas – but do you know the best way to prepare and store them?
Being the super duper money saving sort of girl I am, I’m in a lot of money saving groups on Facebook. And one thing that seems to be up for debate at the moment is the price and bulk buying of supermarket vegetables. Being just a week out from Christmas they seem to have been slashed to ridiculous prices – in particular bags of carrots, sprouts, parsnips and Potatoes, mostly coming in at around 30 pence (or less!) a bag or even 20p in some cases!
While I’m all for stocking up whilst food is cheap, I’m also all about preventing waste. So knowing how properly to store and prep vegetables can make a huge difference – and also means that you won’t be wasting any money if you do decide to stock up.
Current Vegetables Prices as of (20/12/17)
Asda – Parsnips, Carrots, Broccoli and Sprouts 20p a bag
Morrisons – Carrots, Parsnips and Sprouts 3 for £1
Aldi – Parsnips, Leeks and Carrots 19p Potatoes 29p
Tesco – Sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Parsnips and Potatoes 29p
Sainsbury’s – Carrots, Sprouts, Parsnips 25p
Lidl – Sprouts, Carrots, Parnips and Potatoes 29p
Preparing Vegetables for Freezing
What is certainly evident in a lot of the discussions that I’ve been following is that people aren’t always sure of the best way to prepare vegetables that will be going in the freezer. There is a lot of debate as to whether they can just be chopped, bagged and chucked in the freezer or whether they need to be blanched first.
In my experience vegetables 100% need to be blanched or par-boiled first before being frozen. If they are put in the freezer raw they will either go black or shrivel up and go wrinkly, neither of which leave them suitable for eating. A lot of people in the group had no idea what blanching is, so I’ve popped a quick explanation below.
‘Blanching is a cooking process wherein the food substance, usually a vegetable or fruit, is scalded in boiling water, removed after a brief, timed interval, and finally plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water (shocking or refreshing) to halt the cooking process’
After doing this vegetables can then be bagged or boxed and popped in the freezer. Simply add to boiling water when needed and cook as you would any other frozen vegetables.
Preparing Potatoes for Freezing
Potatoes need to be prepared for the freezer slightly different than other veggies as they won’t be boiled in water when reheating.
If you want to make roast potatoes for the freezer then par boil some potatoes (see above) and then place on a lined baking tray making sure the potatoes are not touching one another. These need to be frozen on the tray for a couple of hours until solid and can then be bagged for later use. Freezing on the tray first stops them getting stuck together in one big gloopy mess.
When ever we make mash in our house (I say we, it’s usually my husband as he makes the most amazing garlic and rosemary version!) we always make double, or even triple and the freeze down. Mashed potato freezes really well and can be reheated either in the microwave or in a pan on the hob. I find making mash can be a bit fiddly so it’s great to be able to get it out the freezer and simply heat it up, especially if it’s going with something else easy like a slow cooker stew.
So with all that amazing veg on offer if you are tempted to stock up here are some recipes to get them used. If you’re at home this week and have the time it could be the perfect opportunity to fill up the freezer with cheap meals ready for the long, bleak month of January where typically everyone is on a tight budget after the extravagances of Christmas. Also remember that not everything needs to contain meat – vegetarian meals are a stable for when keeping to tight food budget.
Left Over Vegetables Recipes
Charmaine from ChammyIRL has this post for making an amazing stock. Don’t forget stock can be frozen (once it’s cool) and makes a brilliant base for soups and stews.
Thrifty Mumma, Thrifty Bubba Suggested Vegetable soup or vegetable curry if you add ginger, onion and coconut milk – served with rice.
Emma from The Money Whisperer suggested that some of our furry friends would appreciate cauliflower leaves and carrot peelings – even if you don’t have any yourself it’s worth asking friends or neighbors if they would like any! The less waste the better.