Cook Now Eat Later: 28 Items You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze
Wintertime always tends to put me into a bit of a squirrel mode. IE: I like to stash and bury things now that will save me time and money later. Over the years I have come up with some interesting items that you may never have thought could be frozen for use at a later date.
You can freeze blocks of cheese without it becoming crumbly if you let it thaw completely before putting it in the fridge. If you prefer to shred your cheese first, add a tablespoon or so of cornstarch or flour to the bag and shake it to prevent clumping when it thaws.
2. Homemade Pancakes, Waffles, French Toast
Why waste money? Leggo the Eggo’s forever and make up a few batches over the weekend for quick “defrost and go” breakfasts during the week. Freeze on a cookie sheet, and then toss them in a freezer bag. Reheat in the microwave, toaster, or toaster oven.
When freezing fruit, it’s best to first slice the fruit and spread out on freezer or parchment paper on a cookie sheet, then freeze it and place in bags. Individual frozen pieces let you pull out just how much you need without having to thaw the whole fruit
Cook a big batch of rice, spread it on a cookie sheet on parchment paper and freeze. When the rice is frozen, just put in a freezer bag or containers and you have instant rice. Use in casseroles, soups or my favorite, fried rice.
Make apple pies in the fall to enjoy all year. Bake them and freeze them in freezer bags wrapped in freezer paper then when you have a hankering for pie, take out of the freezer, remove wrapping, and place in oven for about 2 hours at 200 degrees.
Put the whole ear of corn, husk, silk and all into the freezer.
When you want to eat it, put it in the microwave just the way you put it in the freezer and cook for 5 minutes on high for two ears or 4 minutes for one ear.
The silk insulates and protects the corn while it cooks. Tastes like it was fresh picked!
Whenever you make pasta, go ahead and cook the whole package. Freeze any leftovers for later to add to soups and casseroles.
Or freeze individual size portions in smaller freezer bag. Squeeze out the air and get the bag as flat as possible. Thaw it by soaking the bag in hot water for a few minutes!
8. Flour and Other Grains
Freezing flour and other types of grain that come into the house for at least three days discourages any uninvited “guests” from hatching.
If you decide to store it in the freezer, make sure to double wrap the it to avoid condensation and to keep it from picking up other freezer smells.
Make or buy your favorite pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, pop the cubes into freezer bags and enjoy whenever you need.
10. Mashed Potatoes
Using an ice cream scoop, put even portions of mashed potatoes onto parchment-lined cookie sheet. Freeze until hard then transfer into a freezer bag. These stay good for about two months
11. Cookie Dough
Make a big batch of your favorite cookie dough, lay them out just like you would if you were boing to bake them and then put them in the freezer. When they are frozen solid put them in freezer bags.
This lets you make as many or as few cookies as you want instead of having to cook…and eat a whole batch of them. This works great for me when I am on a diet, so I don’t feel guilty about eating a whole box of cookies. Just be sure to add 1 to 2 minutes to the cook time.
12. Soups and Chili
Cool leftover soup completely and transfer to a freezer-friendly container, leaving plenty of space for expansion. The night before eating, move the container to the fridge to thaw safely and then reheat it on the stove or in the microwave.
13. Broth and Stock
Keep a gallon bag in the freezer and add any leftover veggie pieces, including onion peels, celery stalks, potato peels, etc. When the bag fills up you can use it to make vegetable stock.
Keep another bag for pan drippings or sauces that are left after cooking chicken. This can be used to flavor soups.
14. Potato Chips, Crackers and Pretzels
Find a good sale on all your salty snacks? Then it’s time to stock up on chips, crackers and pretzels and throw them in the freezer.
Ever notice that plastic milk jugs have those indentations on the side? They are there to allow milk to expand while freezing!
To use frozen milk, let thaw, and then SHAKE WELL before opening, to make sure any solids are remixed.
Like milk, the only concern about freezing juice is leaving room for expansion. A good rule of thumb is to leave 8 ounces of space for every half gallon of juice.
17. Bread, Baked Goods
When your favorite bread is on sale, stock up and freeze it. Or when you’re in a baking mood, make extras of your favorite baked goods and freeze them for later.
18. Buttercream Frosting
Freeze leftover frosting then when you need to frost something or just need a sugar fix! let it thaw in the fridge, then whip it up and it works just like fresh frosting.
19. Tomato Paste
Most recipes using tomato paste only call for one tablespoon out of the whole can, which always seems like a waste to me. Take what you need from the can, then put the rest in a little freezer bag, flatten it out in the freezer, and when you need a tablespoon, just break off a piece and throw it into your mix.
20. Diced vegetables
Dice onions, chili’s, or bell peppers, then freeze flat in gallon freezer bags. As they are freezing, use a non serrated butter knife or fork to press “score lines” into the bags so you can break off as much or as little as you wish for recipes.
21. Homemade and Store-Bought Dough
You can freeze just about any type of dough. Shape the dough into a ball and wrapp in saran wrap then freeze You can also freeze canned biscuits, crescent rolls, pizza dough, etc. right in the tube. Stock up when they are on sale!
Sounds gross but it really works. Crack the eggs in a freezer bag, and freeze. Or crack eggs into an ice cube tray for cakes and cookies. Thaw out in refrigerator and use as you normally would.
23. Shredded Chicken
Cook a big batch and shred or when you get a rotisserie from the grocery store, shred the leftovers and put it in a bag. (Be sure and use THIS TRICK to shred it!) Great timesaver when making enchiladas!
24. Lemon/Lime Juice and Zest
Squeeze lemons and limes into ice cube trays, then pop them out after they have frozen and store in freezer bags. Now you have “fresh” lemon and lime juice whenever you need it. AND, you never have to kick yourself for letting another bag of lemons from Costco go to waste! (Been there, done that.)
Don’t forget to ZEST the lemons/limes first and keep that in the freezer as well!
Freeze fresh herbs in ice-cube trays with a little water or leftover stock to use for soups, stews, and casseroles later in the year.
26. Marinated Meat
Place meat in a freezer bag, pour in marinade and freeze. When you defrost it, it will be fully marinated and ready to cook.
When you are cooking a casserole, go ahead and make two of them. FREEZE one for when unexpected company drops by or to use as a no hassle meal during a busy work week where you may not have the time.
Pre-cook ground hamburger and portion it out for meals. When you need hamburger for shepherd’s pie, sloppy joes, tacos, or whatever just pull it out of the freezer, add the seasoning, and microwave. Three minutes, or 1 minute and 30 seconds if it’s going to be baked and doesn’t need to be thawed all the way. For crock pot meals, like chili, just throw it in frozen.