Not wasting food is a priority in our house, and rather than letting it go to waste a lot of times I will freeze it. Freezing is not only a great way to keep food from going bad, but it can be a great way to save time for busy family and to save money on items that are on sale. There are a lot of things you might not even know you can freeze. This list is an attempt at showing you just what you can do with that freezer sitting in your basement.
Eggs – If you do not use a lot of eggs but need to keep them on hand for baking day, you might be happy to know that you can freeze them. The trick to freezing eggs is to take them out of their shells, whisk them just a bit to mix the whites and yolks and pour into freeze bags or ice cube trays. You can also freeze yolks and whites separately which is good news if you like to make things that only take one or the other.
Cheese – Cheese can be frozen either whole or shredded. To freeze it whole just put it in the freezer, when you need to use it, be sure to take it out early and let it fully thaw in the refrigerator. If you do it this way it will not become crumbly. You can also shred cheese and freeze it, just add a bit of cornstarch to the bag and mix well, this will keep shredded cheese from clumping up together. Cheeses like parmesan do not need the cornstarch and freeze great!
Potatoes – Potatoes can be frozen for French fries, hash browns, and more, but you must blanch them first. Blanching time depends on how you are freezing them. When I do hash browns I steam whole potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes just until a fork goes into the outer 2/3s of the potato easily. I refrigerate them overnight then shred them the next day. I then pack them into Ziploc bags flat, and freeze. French fries can be done in a similar manner or you can also cut them first, blanch them, cool, and freeze.
Mushrooms – Yes mushrooms can be frozen as well, good news since we tend to have a habit of buying mushrooms and then not using them right away. Cut mushrooms to the size you want them, toss them in melted butter and freeze. They keep quite well this way and are great for throwing in soups, casseroles and more.
Yogurt – If your yogurt is going to expire before letting it go bad, toss it in the freezer. Yogurts can be eaten right out of the container this way, or can be put through the blender or food processor first to make them a bit easier to eat. You can also use yogurt to make great popsicles.
Milk – Get a great deal on milk or somehow have a surplus of it? Don’t let it go bad, toss it in the freezer. If freezing in gallon jugs take a bit out of the top of the gallon to give it room to expand. Otherwise it can split the plastic and when you go to thaw it, it can make a big mess.
Pasta – If you are looking for super quick meals one way to have them is to freeze individual portions of things like pasta and simply reheat them when you are ready to eat. IF you have a vacuum seal you can seal them in those bags and use them as boil and bag, or you can add sauce to the pasta which will help keep your pasta from drying out.
Rice – Rice like pasta can be seal in plastic bags and reheated as needed. It is great if you want a quick meal, especially if you prefer brown rice which can take up to 45 minutes to cook. You can add your sauces and vegetables to the rice or bag the rice separately and decide when you take it out what type of sauce you want.
Wine – Wine might seem like an unlikely thing to freeze, but wine left in the fridge or on the counter loses quality quickly. If you won’t be drinking it for a bit, pour it into ice cube trays and freeze. Once it is frozen remove from the trays and put into plastic bags. You can use it to cook with and the freezing process does not affect the flavor of the wine at all.
Lemons – Lemon is one of those things we do not use a lot of in our house, but when we need it, we never have it. Rather than letting lemons go to waste or not having any lemons at all, freeze them. Simply cut them into the portions that you think you will use, and toss them into a bag or wrap them with plastic wrap. This is a great way to save that lemon zest for when you need it most too.
Frosting – I cannot count the number of times frosting has gone to waste in our home in the past. If we did not use it all, it would sit in the fridge for a very long time, until finally it was thrown away. Now we put that frosting in a bag and freeze, and when it is time to frost cupcakes or cake we just pull the frosting out to defrost a good 12 hours before hand.
Herbs – Fresh herbs are always best when cooking because they have so much more flavor than dried. If you buy fresh herbs from the store rather than throwing away what you don’t use, put them in ice cube trays with water and freeze. The frozen water will help keep them fresh and you can just pop a couple out before you need them to thaw.
Nuts – Have you ever opened up a can of nuts only to find out that they are stale? Rather than letting nuts get stale store them in your freezer. This will keep them fresh, keep them from going rancid, and ensure they stay super fresh and full of flavor. If you do a lot of baking consider buying nuts in bulk, chopping them up, and putting them in baggies to be used when you need them.
Garlic– Never use up garlic before it goes bad? Crush up all that garlic and store it in ice cube trays. Put a drop of olive oil in the ice cube tray and put the crushed garlic on top. The oil ensures that the garlic comes out of the tray easily. You can also do this with ginger as well.
Butter – Butter is a seasonal item one that can be quite expensive during the off season. Buy it up when it is cheap and store it in the freezer. Take it out when you are ready to use it, no need for defrosting unless you need your butter softened first.
Cookie Dough – When I had a houseful of teenagers I used to make cookies by the dozens and there was never a problem getting them eaten. Now with a family of three, cookies can go stale before they are gone. While you can freeze cookies, they just never taste as good as they do when you fresh bake them. So instead of freezing the cookies after they are baked, freeze the cookie dough. You can roll the dough into tubes so you can slice off what you need, or you can make small balls of dough and freeze them separately on a cookie tray and then put them in bags.
Tomato Paste – Don’t put the tomato paste or for that matter the sauce back in the fridge. Chances are good they will get pushed back to the back and never get used. Instead put them in ice cube trays in portion sizes you will use.
Unused vegetables and vegetable scraps – Homemade broth is both cheap and easy to make and so much better for you. Better yet you can use scraps you would normally throw away to make it. Have a bit of onion left? Put it in the scrap bag. Put left over vegetables and peelings in there. When it is time to make broth toss them in and let them have second life as tasty broth for all your dishes.
Soup Stock – Once you make that soup stock you can pour it into those ice cube trays and freeze it. Pop the ice cubes out, put them in bags and toss them in the pot when it is time to make soup or other dishes that call for soup stock.
Citrus Rinds – This is one of the best ideas ever. When I am baking recipes I bake often call for the zest of oranges or other citrus fruits. When you are done eating those oranges do not throw the rinds away. Freeze them, then when you need zest you will have it ready to go.
Tomatoes – There are dozens of ways to freeze tomatoes which are far easier than canning. You can toss cleaned and cored tomatoes whole into the freezer, when they thaw the skins come off easy. You can also dice tomatoes and store them in portions you will use in your cooking. Want roasted tomatoes? Roast tomatoes first at 225 degrees with garlic and fresh herbs and then transfer to freezer bags once cooled. Great for chilies, spaghetti or casseroles. This is also a great way to save overripe tomatoes which will go perfect in the sauce you will be making next week.
Flours – if you live in an area where there is a lot of humidity or bugs, you probably already know this trick. Store your flour in the freezer to discourage moths and other critters from taking up residence in your flour stores. Double bag it to keep the moisture out.
Sandwiches – Freeze sandwiches without mayo, lettuce, or tomato, and have them ready for packing in the morning. This is a real time saver and even young kids can pull sandwiches out and put them in their lunch boxes.
Breakfast sandwiches also work well doing this. Add scrambled eggs and sausage on a biscuit and freeze. Reheat it in the microwave and add a piece of cheese and you have a fast and tasty meal for mornings.
Bread Dough – If you cannot eat more than one loaf of bread at a time, then only bake half the dough and freeze the rest of it. Let it thaw slowly in the fridge and then bring it to room temperature when you are ready to bake it. You can also freeze biscuits, pizza dough and tubes of dough you buy in the refrigerator section of your store.
Pie Dough – I usually make pie dough in large batches and freeze what I don’t use. Because pie dough should be chilled to roll it out anyway, freezing does it no harm, and makes pie making season that much easier.
Pies – Alternatively you can make and bake the pies, then freeze them. I usually do not bake them quite all the way so that I can reheat them later if I want. I have also had luck with freezing them before you bake them but brush the bottom crust with a bit of egg that has been whisked to keep it from getting soggy.
Shredded Cooked Meats – whether it is the rotisserie chicken you grabbed the other night when you were in a hurry, or the pork roast you made for dinner the other night, if you are not going to eat it all right away, shred it and put it in the freezer. This is great for using for pork pulled sandwiches, barbeque chicken sandwiches, or burritos or enchiladas.
Marinate Meat In the Freezer – Before you package meat for the freezer make a marinade and toss it in with those steaks, chicken breasts, chops, and other meats. Once you thaw the meat out it will be fully marinated and ready to cook, reducing one step in the cooking process.
Hamburger – Another time saver, cook up hamburger on the weekend and portion it into the right size containers. Freeze. When you are cooking tacos, sloppy joes, or spaghetti your meat is ready to go. You do not even need to thaw it out all the way just toss it in the pan or pot.
Baking Supplies – I almost always buy too much of everything when getting ready for baking. By the time I get around to baking again my supplies are all stale. Package up chocolate, marshmallows, caramels, and chopped nuts in bags and stash them in the freezer. The next time you get the urge to bake they will be there waiting for you.
Buttermilk – I frequently buy buttermilk for a few of my favorite recipes. But I rarely use it all. What I don’t use gets put in ice cube trays and frozen for the next time I bake. It does separate a bit, but works just fine!
Fruit treats – Rather than spending money on popsicles give your kids a healthier and cheaper treat. Freeze fruits like grapes, raspberries, cherries and even orange quarters. Give them to kids frozen to eat on hot summer days.
Popcorn Kernels – Popcorn kernels can and do get stale, but store them in the freezer and they will stay fresh. Not only will it keep them fresh but freezing will help to avoid having too many kernels that don’t pop.
Brown Sugar – Store brown sugar in the freezer and you will find that it will not get hard and lumpy nearly as quickly. Freezing helps the brown sugar to retain its moisture hence why it does not dry out and get lumpy. Make sure to bring it to room temp before using.
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