When I was chosen as a Deal Pro for Savings.com in 2009, I went to the conference and was surprised that a chef was chosen as a Deal Pro! However, it completely made sense after he gave a presentation on using your freezer as a tool to save money. Don't waste anything, as more than likely you can freeze it and use it for a later time/purpose, saving you money in the long road.
So, I've been talking about several things you can freeze during my coupon classes but wanted to give a more detailed list with some explanations. Feel free to add your two cents about what has worked/not worked for you and add anything to the list that I haven't thought of or heard about!
First let's talk about the most common freezing methods:
Flash Freeze- This works especially well for fruits and cookie doughs in my opinion. First, cut up your fruit and make your cookie dough into balls. Then stick them on a parchment or waxed paper lined cookie sheet and stick in the freezer until firm. Then simply store in Freezer Storage bags.
Freezing food as quickly as possible to as low a temperature as possible leads to smaller ice crystals, less damage to the cell walls of the food when it thaws, and better flavor. Because of this it is better to cut items such as meat into smaller pieces if possible. The smaller the portion the faster it freezes.
Vegetables are a little bit trickier. According to Alton Brown, he suggests blanching your vegetables, like peas, in boiling water for one minute and immediately shocking them in an ice bath for another minute to neutralize the enzymes. Dry them thoroughly, then lay them out in a single layer on a sheet pan and and refrigerate them for an hour before transferring the sheet pan to the freezer.
Just Stick It In The Freezer- Sometimes it depends on how you want to freezer something depending on what it will be used for later. Take bananas for example. I simply throw the entire banana into the freezer because I use these for breads, cakes and smoothies where the consistency doesn't really make a difference. Sometimes this requires to thaw out a little bit ahead of time or stick in the microwave, but it still works great.
So now let's look at my list of foods that you can freeze:
- Milk- You heard it right. I have been doing this for years. I have done all kinds too and have never had problems. Some people let out a little milk before freezing it, but I never have. Sure the sides pop out a little but that's about it. We go through milk like crazy so I don't need to worry about it expiring, but if you do, just write down the date you put it in the freezer and then write the day you take it out. The amount of time before it expires will remain the same.
- Cheese- will work better if it's shredded or sliced ahead of time.
- Fruit- There are some tricks to freezing fruit. Most need to be flash frozen and whether to wash beforehand or after freezing is up for debate. I wouldn't recommend washing blueberries beforehand for sure!
- Vegetables- I got a great tip one time to store all your spoonfuls of left over vegetables in a freezer bag in your freezer and keep adding to it until you can make a vegetable soup with it!
- Stick Butter
- Flour, Sugar
- Pies- freeze before you cook
- Baked Goods
- Candy Bars
- Already Made Pancakes and Waffles
- Prepared Pizza Dough-Just thaw before preparing
- Chocolate Chips
- Cream Cheese
- Yogurt- We mostly freeze those yogurt tubes. The baby LOVES frozen yogurt when he's teething!
- Leftover Spaghetti Sauce, Paste
- Opened Wine- store in ice cube trays and then transfer to freezer bags. Use in stews, sauces, etc.
- Eggs- cracked
- Brown Rice (uncooked)
- Fresh Herbs- Chop up what is left over, put in ice cube trays covered with water and freeze. Then transfer to bags and use in recipes.
- Chopped Onion, Peppers
Thanks to Shelf Life, Living Well On Less and Simply Organized Living for having some things on your list I hadn't thought of!