Freezer Friendly Foods
Looking for ways to stretch your grocery dollar? Me too. One of my goals this year is to beef up my freezing skills so I can preserve the awesomeness of this season’s produce.
For instance, I spent a few hours last month baking pear vanilla muffins with my big box of Bartlett pears I got for less than 50¢ a pound for snacks and lunches. Not only did I make delicious food that contained ingredients I could understand, but I saved a ton of money from buying pre-packaged snacks in the store and time during lunch-packing time.
Here are ten foods you can freeze to save money and time right now!
Shredded cheese — This is my favorite. If your fridge is brimming with blocks of cheese you picked up on a crazy sale (my “buy” price is anything less than $5 for a two-pound brick of name-brand cheese), bust out your food processor and shred it. Shredded cheese freezes beautifully and thaws very quickly. DO NOT, under any circumstances, try freezing an entire block or package of sliced cheese. Cheese frozen in any form other than shreds just crumbles, making it only useful if you’re planning to melt it.
Pumpkin puree — Canned pumpkin can be crazy expensive, so why not try to make your own? Find how to make and freeze pumpkin puree here.
Applesauce — Apple season in the Pacific Northwest comes in the beautiful Fall. The easiest way to preserve the goodness of autumn is to make applesauce. If you’re not interested in canning applesauce or don’t have the equipment, try freezing it instead. You can freeze it in plastic containers or freezer bags for smaller quantities to use for baking.
Find out how to freeze applesauce here.
Condensed soups, canned tomatoes, broth — I often open a can of something for a recipe and end up having leftovers. Instead of sticking the can in the fridge and hope that I use it up before it molds, I’ve started freezing the extras in a smaller freezer bag or lidded plastic container. This method has worked well for cream of chicken/mushroom soup, various canned tomatoes, and chicken and beef broth.
You can also freeze homemade chicken broth in ice cube trays or plastic containers. It’s best if you freeze broth in “canned” or “boxed” sized portions so it’s easy to follow conventional recipes.
14 ounce can = 1.75 – 2 cups
32 ounce carton/box = 4 cups
Chopped onions — Sometimes a recipe calls for half an onion and I’m always confused how I should store the other half. Instead of going through the hassle of Googling the solution or calling my mother, I simply chop the other half and freeze it in a freezer bag for a future meal. Frozen onions saute wonderfully without thawing!
Fresh corn — You can freeze most vegetables, but corn is a good place to start, especially if you hit the sales right at the end of the summer. Find out how to freeze fresh corn here (hint: no blanching required!).
Herbs— Fresh herbs are typically crazy expensive, and the bunch you buy at the store is usually way more than you need for a recipe. Instead of throwing the extra away, simple snip the herbs and put them into an ice cube tray with broth or olive oil and freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, remove them and store in a freezer bag until you’re ready to use.
Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches — This tip could revolutionize your lunch-making routine. Simply spread peanut butter on both sides of the bread (this keeps the jam from saturating the bread) and put the jam or jelly in the middle. Freeze the sandwiches in a freezer bag and pull them out in the morning. The sandwich should be thawed out by lunchtime.
Beans — Did you know you can freeze pretty much any cooked lentil? And making beans from scratch is significantly cheaper (and more healthy) than buying canned beans. Find out how to freeze cooked garbanzo beans for homemade hummus and how to make and freeze refried beans here.
Homemade baked goods — You can freeze almost any bread out there. Just prepare and bake the bread according to the recipe, put the item(s) on a baking sheet and freeze for a couple of hours. After the freezing is complete, throw the bread or muffins in a freezer bag and store in the freezer.
I have heard that wrapping the bread in a paper towel and then putting it in the freezer bag helps it retain moisture and not get freezer burn.
Here are a few of our favorite freezer-friendly bread recipes:
And here are tons of freezer-friendly quick bread, muffin, and scone recipes:
- Basic Fruit Muffins with Streusel
- Best Banana Bread (low-sugar recipe)
- Cappuccino Chip Muffins
- Cream Scones
- Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Swirl Bread
- Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
- Ginger Peach Muffins
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Bread
- Graham Cracker Bread
- Pumpkin Streusel Bread
- Strawberry Shortcake
- Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread
Tortillas — I often find tortillas on a good stock-up sale at the grocery store or bakery outlet and throw them in the freezer for upcoming meals. They take less than an hour to thaw and I haven’t noticed any difference in the quality after they’ve been frozen. Psst, my “buy” price for flour tortillas is 99¢ or less.
Quite a few newer refrigerator/freezer combos come with an ice maker either in the door or in the freezer section and keeping ice cube trays on hand just isn’t a priority for everyone. We have found inexpensive silicone trays at IKEA or plastic trays at the dollar store, but you can also find several varieties at Amazon. The Kitch Easy Release Ice Cube Trays (shown above) get great reviews and would keep you in frozen chicken broth or dried herbs for a LONG time.
Looking for more ways to freeze and preserve food?
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Bruce Carrie says
This isn’t a huge issue here, but when my Dad was in the service and served overseas, the base’s “milk” was concoction of water, milk powder and vegetable oil. We soon learned that real milk can be frozen and stored. It had to be shaken after defrosting, but still.
It was a custom that parents who traveled to a base large enough to have access real milk loaded up for the return trip.
susan smoaks says
I never would have thought to freeze homemade baked goods. Your tip is going to save me time and money.
I buy and freeze liquid coffee creamer. Even though the bottle says that you’re not supposed to freeze it I’ve been doing it for over a year now and have noticed no difference between the frozen and fresh from the store cooler.
Love this post thank you! I am getting ready to freeze diced tomatoes. I heard about the BPA in the canned version…yikes!
I also freeze french toast! When I find an awesome deal at the bread outlet I make a huge batch of french toast and freeze them. Makes a super quick and easy breakfast when you need them. I think they thaw best in the toaster much like a waffle.
Thanks again for this article and all you do to save us moola!! 😉
Loretta beat me to it, but I second her claim: I slice two-pound Tillamook loaves into six chunks (because we don’t eat it fast enough), put each one in a sandwich bag, reassemble the loaf, and then double-bag it in gallon-size freezer bags. I thaw one chunk at a time, and it’s as good as fresh: no crumbling, no odd texture, no ill effects at all.
For a couple of years I have been freezing the 2# loaf of medium Tillamook cheese when it goes on sale and it does beautifully, not at all crumbly, slices just like fresh.