Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Frugal Friday: garlic and ginger

Just after Christmas I realised we were running out of garlic, which is a situation that, in anybody’s book, would be an intolerable deprivation. The next time I went to Costco I bought 3 bags of it. Now, this would be Frugal Friday foolhardiness in the extreme if I was planning on leaving it in the cupboard. It’d go off before I’d even opened the second bag. But a couple of years ago I went to a friend’s place while she was cooking and she casually opened her freezer door, took out some already peeled garlic cloves and threw them into her thermomix and chopped them up, then continued on with her cooking. The whole thing took 2 seconds. How quick and easy was that?!?

It changed my life. Really.

In my defence: sometimes little things can change your life. It doesn’t always have to be earth-shattering events!

Don’t cook with a thermomix? Doesn’t matter. You’d just get the ingredients out from the freezer a few minutes before you needed them, let them thaw slightly on the chopping board and then chop them up yourself. It’s still a huge time and convenience saver. I hate throwing food out and this is an easy way to make sure that expensive ingredients like garlic and ginger aren’t wasted. You don’t think they’re that expensive? Check the price per kilo the next time you shop. Yikes!

To be fair, the preparation isn’t all that exciting. I set aside an hour or so, start a podcast running on the iPad and then set to work. The time passes quickly, I think because it’s one of those mindless repetitive tasks that let your mind free to wander while your hands are busy. I’ve seen that you can buy cryovac-packed peeled garlic from China, but I haven’t heard good things about the quality. I’d rather stick to the fresh stuff I can choose myself. (It was even better when I grew my own, but those days have gone… for now.)

Once I have a goodly amount peeled, I grab a container and pop them in the fridge. Since doing this I’ve never had to throw out any sad garlic. It’s a terrific way to still use fresh garlic in my cooking without the waste, while an added bonus is that I don’t have the garlic smell on my hands every time I need to cook with it. I get all of that over in one fell swoop.

I do the same with fresh ginger. I bring it home, chop it into coins and then freeze. On the shelf next to the garlic I have whole red chillies that a friend from work supplies me with. They last for months.

Doing this saves on food waste, but primarily it saves time. I know I have these staples on hand, so throwing together a quick curry or bolognaise is a no-brainer on those nights when you really don’t feel like cooking. It’s worth the short-term boredom of peeling for the long-term gain of the convenience.

Anyone have any other ideas for quick, easy and seasonal ingredients to use the freezer for? I’m sure there’d be more great ideas out there…?






  1. Snoskred

    Well first I want to say this is all your fault in a good way. 🙂 I loved your no-spend days thing and so am putting that in place here.

    I’ve got to a place where I can shop once a fortnight and I only need to do a quick run the following weekend for beef mince, mushrooms for my pizza, and sometimes if we used too much some extra milk. I can freeze the beef mince. I can buy long life milk for emergencies. I have never frozen mushrooms. I can’t have pizza without them. So, learning to freeze mushrooms it is.

    If I can manage it, I think I can get my spend days down to one a fortnight. Plus, I can prep the mushrooms once a month or so, stock up when they are on special, and never have to make the supermarket run on a Friday again – because Fridays here are hell traffic wise.

    This could be a life changer, yet again, and yet again it never would have happened without you and your blog posts, so a big thank you for all the things you have inspired me to do over the years.

    Chickens is my favourite one, there is never a day that goes by without me enjoying my chickens and I know I never would have done that without reading about yours. Even as I type this I can hear one of them triumphantly telling the others about a bug they have found, and it is such a happy sound. 🙂

    I learned a lot about freezing things from a blog I found because it had a similar name to mine – Our New Life In The Country was where I learned how to freeze a multitude of things I never considered before. Sue freezes everything from berries to grated zucchini.

    I do a lot of frozen bananas for my protein shakes for lunch and I just flat lay them on a tray and put them in overnight, then put them into a ziploc bag. I freeze watermelon rinds for the girls in summer, plus mango as they are loving that. Next time blueberries are on special I am planning a mass raid stock up.

    • Frogdancer

      I’m so glad you got chooks! Sometimes I miss mine, but I’m afraid that I love my new place more than I miss my chooks. Besides, Scout is so small that she’d be at risk from them. 🙂
      Do you have a Costco near you? I go there once a fortnight for their boxes of mushrooms and spinach. If you bought a box of mushrooms, after you learned to freeze them effectively, it’d last you for ages. I googled ‘can you freeze mushrooms?’ and it said that they go watery, so you’d want to sauté them first, then freeze and just use in cooking.

  2. Barb

    I also turn chillies into a chilli paste and keep it in a jar in the fridge. basil to pesto plus a few other herb pestos…fig to fig paste, tomatoes to relish and sauce…all so handy.

  3. Slughorn

    Do you peel the ginger first?

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