Here is a guest post from one of my frugal Mommy blogging friends, My Kansas City Mommy! She has written up a genius post on things to freeze to save you time and money – enjoy!
Homemade Pancakes, Waffles, French Toast
Make up a few batches for quick “defrost and go” breakfasts during the week. Reheat in the microwave, toaster, or toaster oven. Another one I learned from my mom, have done this with our extras and it saves time and they actually taste good versus the ones in the store – not my favorite.
It is best to first freeze spread out on freezer or parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and then place in bags. However I rarely take the time to do this and my fruit freezes just fine.
Keep a “Smoothie Bag” in the freezer. Toss in extra apple wedges, peaches, pears, bananas, chunks of melon…any kind of fruit…and use in smoothies. I have frozen blueberry’s, strawberry’s, apples, bananas (these I peel and cut into bite size pieces to use in smoothies or baking or even dipped in chocolate for frozen banana treat my favorite YUM), raspberry’s and they have all worked great. Another great tip – have a party and want to make it a bit “classier” try dropping your frozen fruit into a glass and fill with water, lemonade tea or your favorite adult beverage, the froze fruit will work like an ice cube without diluting the drink with water.
This tip I found online – If you don’t like handling mushy bananas, just throw the bananas into the freezer with the skin on. Then when you need them for a recipe (banana bread anyone?), pull out what you need, microwave for a few seconds, then cut off the top and squeeze the insides into your mixing bowl!
Make apple pies in the fall to enjoy throughout the year. Bake them and freeze them in freezer bags wrapped in freezer paper. When you are ready to eat, take out of the freezer and place in oven for 2 hours at 200 degrees. You can also freeze extra slices instead of the entire pie. I have done this for years and it works great.
Cook a big batch of rice, spread on a cookie sheet on parchment paper and freeze. When frozen, put in a freezer bag or containers. Great for BROWN rice which takes so long to cook! Use in casseroles, soups or fried rice. This one I found online and have not actually tried but will be on my list to try soon.
Whenever you make pasta, cook the entire package and freeze leftovers for later to add to soups and casseroles or freeze individual size portions in a baggie, squeeze out the air and get the bag as flat as possible. Reheat by running hot water over the bag for a few minutes! This works great and is a wonderful meal to take for lunch at work.
Make a big batch of your favorite cookie dough, scoop onto cookie sheets and freeze. When they are frozen solid put them in freezer bags. When you NEED cookies, bake as few or as many as you NEED without lots of waste or guilt. Just add 1 to 2 minutes to the cook time. You can also make “slice-and-bake” cookie dough by shaping it into a cylinder, and freezing it wrapped in foil.
When you pack lunches for school or work, it’s a real timesaver to pull a sandwich straight from the freezer. Throw your sandwich directly from the freezer into your lunch bag and it’s thawed by lunch time. This also helps keep the meat cold which makes me feel better about the possibility of meat issues. Peanut butter and jelly or honey, as well as deli meat and cheese work well. You can freeze butter or mustard but NOT mayo, lettuce or tomato. If you want to add fresh veggies or mayo put on in the morning.
You can also freeze breakfast sandwiches. Cook eggs and sausage or bacon in bulk, put on biscuits or english muffins or toast, wrap and freeze! In the morning grab one microwave and enjoy. Way healthier and cheaper than those that you “drive through” and pick up.
Yogurt Tubes can also be stored and sent to school in lunches this way too – by the time lunch rolls around they are thawed but still cold. My kids love this when I finally figured it out.
Bread, Baked Goods
When your favorite bread is on sale, stock up and freeze it. I have done this for years as well and it works great – you can leave in the regular package and just throw in the freezer, it also works great for bread that is on sale (in other words the kind that is nearing the end of it’s shelf life) as you are going to extend the life of the bread by freezing.
I found this tip online – Tip for defrosting baked goods or breads: place them in your microwave overnight. It keeps them from drying out like they do on the counter.
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. Microwave and serve. I love this one for last minute meals on those super busy nights.
This one came from an online resource. An EASY way to freeze corn on the cob is to put the ears of corn, WITHOUT removing ANY silk or husk, straight into 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 fresh-picked corn! I have not tried this but LOVE the idea.
Most recipes using tomato paste only call for one tablespoon out of the whole can! If you can’t find the kind that now comes in a tube like a tube of toothpaste and stores in the fridge, you now need to figure out what to do with the remainder of the can. Put the rest in a little sandwich bag, flatten it out in the freezer, or put in ice cube trays and freeze by tablespoon full and then put in a bag then when you need a tablespoon, just break off a piece or grab a cube and throw it into whatever you are cooking!
Chop onions, carrotts, celery or peppers, freeze flat in gallon freezer bags. As they are freezing, press “score lines” into the bags this way you can break off whatever you want without having to thaw the entire bag for a recipe.
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.
Homemade and Store-Bought Dough
Freeze dough – pizza dough, focaccia dough, pie crust – shaped in a ball and wrapped in saran wrap. You can also freeze canned biscuits, crescent rolls, pizza dough, etc. right in the tube. Stock up when they are on sale!
Really? Who would have thought? 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. We also cook in a muffin tin in the oven and then add to our breakfast sandwiches. This is important right now as with Easter on its way the price of eggs will be dropping and it is a great time to stock up.
You can freeze blocks of cheese without it becoming crumbly but you must 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. You can also freeze the bags of cheese that are pre-shredded right in their own package – this has been my preferred method for years – the cheese works great and if you are doing a casserole you don’t even have to thaw it out throw the frozen cheese on it – I mean really, it is going to bake anyway.
Yes I am being serious you can actually freeze milk. But and this is a biggie in our house – don’t let your other half know this (every wife I know that hubby finds out they are drinking frozen milk assume it is different – trust me it is not and in our house when he doesn’t realize it is the frozen gallon he normally comments on how good it is – go figure). The milk jugs have those little circle indents on them for a reason – to allow for expansion during freezing – and they will expand. To use, let thaw in the fridge for a couple of days, and SHAKE WELL before opening, to make sure it is remixed. You can also freeze buttermilk. I have not tried heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2 but will be giving this a shot soon.
Just like milk the only concern is leaving room for expansion. Take out approx 8 ounces for every half gallon of juice. Stock up when it goes on sale.
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 you have enough, make vegetable stock.
Keep another bag for pan drippings or sauces that are left after cooking chicken. This can be used to flavor soups. This one came from an online source and although I have not tried it I will be doing this immediately, what a great idea.
Cool leftover soup completely, transfer to a freezer safe container, leaving a small area of empty space for expansion during freezing. Before serving, move the container to the fridge the night before to thaw safely and then reheat and serve. In a pinch (or frankly when I have forgotten to take it out of the freezer) I have used the defrost function on my microwave and it has worked great.
When you are cooking a casseroles, make 2 and freeze 1 for unexpected company or when you are busy during the week and don’t have time to cook. Cover and freeze.
Following are a couple of ideas I found online of how to freeze these.
1. Freeze the entire casserole by lining the base of the dish with freezer paper, adding the ingredients, then freezing it in the dish. When it’s frozen solid, remove from the dish (easy to do thanks to the freezer paper), rewrap the food and put back in the freezer. This saves room in the freezer and allows you to continue using the dish. When you want the item for a meal, unwrap and place in the original dish to defrost and cook.
2. Bake casserole, let cool, and then cut into individual servings and freeze. Reheat in microwave!
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. (TRICK to shred chicken – I LOVE This – put your chicken into your KitchenAid and use the paddle blade – put on low and watch the chicken shred just like the pro’s!) Great timesaver when making enchiladas!
Place meat in a bag, pour in marinade and freeze. When you defrost it, it will be fully-marinated and ready to cook.
Cook ground hamburger and portion it out for meals. When you need hamburger for manwich, tacos, chili or anything else you can dream up just pull it out of the freezer, add the seasoning, and microwave. 3 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, just throw it in frozen.