Many of us do not take advantage of our freezers to the full extent that we could. You may be surprised to hear that the freezer isn’t just a place to store the items that were frozen when you bought them. In fact, many pantry items can benefits from being frozen, including chips!
You may have never thought to put something like eggs or cheese in your freezer, but there are a few tricks that make doing so worth your while. Get food-savvy with these freezer hacks and discover the satisfaction of saving time and money.
Prevent Cheese From Going Bad
For cheese lovers, it’s more or less a living nightmare when you reach to grab your favorite block and find it covered in mold that shouldn’t be there. This can make it tempting to buy those giant bags of shredded cheese that contain anti-aging chemicals.
However, you can preserve natural, fresh cheese by chucking an entire block into the freezer. Or better yet, shred the cheese beforehand, throw it in a freezer bag with some cornstarch or flour (to prevent clumping), and let it thaw when you’re ready.
Don’t Throw Out The Ripe Bananas!
For many of us, a brown banana is going to end up in one of two places: in the trash or in banana bread. At the same time, baking banana bread is time-consuming and inconvenient to do on a whim.
That’s why you should peel those ripe bananas and throw them in the freezer for when you’re ready. Better yet, cut them into pieces and freeze for a quick addition to your morning smoothie. The ripe banana will be extra sweet and can serve as a nice dessert alternative, too.
Cut Down Rice Cooking Times
While there are many varieties of rice nowadays that offer 90 second microwave times, some people prefer to go the traditional route and cook it on the stove or in a rice cooker. As with most things, the quality option also tends to take more time.
Instead, cook up the entire package of rice at once on a day when you have the time. Portion it out and place each portion into an individual, airtight freezer bag. Throw the frozen rice into a pan when it’s time to eat and you have a faster alternative without sacrificing the taste.
Create Your Own Frozen Veggies
For those who prefer to buy fresh vegetables, it can be difficult to consume them before their nutritional value goes down. Especially if they were manufactured in a supermarket warehouse, their nutritional content may already be on the decline by the time they hit your fridge.
To help preserve freshness, keep the remnants of your chopped veggies in the freezer. Every time you chop a vegetable, throw the unused leftovers in the designated frozen bag. Once it’s full, heat up the frozen scraps like you would a bag of frozen veggies from the store.
Make Herb Cubes
It can be fun freezing things in water in your ice cube tray. However, you probably wouldn’t think to put fresh herbs in an ice tray with water. The trick is actually a great way to preserve herbs like rosemary or cilantro before they turn bad.
Once you have your frozen herb cubes, just chuck them into soup, broth, meatloaf — anything warm that will melt through the ice and emit the aromas of the still-fresh herb. You can even throw some mint cubes in your drink for a refreshing aftertaste.
Don’t Overdo It On The Mashed Potatoes
Thanksgiving leftovers are great and all, but at some point you’re going to get sick of having mashed potatoes for breakfast. Save the holiday favorite by using a large ice cream scooper to carve out perfectly portioned mashed potatoes.
Freeze them on a tray and then place them into a freezer bag. The other great thing about this hack is that you can make a giant batch with your bag of potatoes without feeling guilty about it going bad.
Ease Your Cookie Temptation
There’s nothing like homemade cookies, but having a full pan of them can be torture. Especially if you’re single or have a small household, you may find yourself tempted to grab more than a cookie or two when the aroma still lingers in your home.
To save you from this inner crisis, freeze your cookie dough. Shape the dough into balls and throw them in an airtight freezer bag. Keep out enough dough to bake the number of cookies you want. If you want more cookies, you’ll have to bake them.
Give Your Chip An Added Crunch
As if chips weren’t addictive enough, they come with the added pressure of going stale and losing the crunch we so love. To make them last even longer, don’t just put them in an airtight bag; put them in an airtight freezer bag.
Chips, crackers, croutons, pretzels, etc. will last longer and taste fresher when stored in the freezer. Add some cool to your crisp snacks. You can also throw granola in the freezer for an extra-refreshing yogurt parfait or acai bowl.
When it comes to butter, bakers know better than most how important the condition of this vital ingredient can be. For example, when baking biscuits, melted butter will have a negative impact on the product. That’s because you need cold butter to release steam and create that flaky texture we love.
However, cold bars of butter can be frustrating to cut and often come in packages too large to go through. Don’t settle for chemical-infused “spreadable” butter. Instead, store wholesome butter in the freezer and use a cheese grater to break it down into small pieces of melty deliciousness.
Juice It Up
Oftentimes, when it comes to limes and lemons, a single person will only require a slice or two for their beverage or meal. That leaves the rest of the citrus fruit to dry out in the fridge. Instead, try juicing the entire fruit and storing it.
You can place the lemon and lime juice into an ice cube tray and throw it in chicken soup or rice. Better yet, melt it in a pan and throw a tortilla over top for built-in flavor. Of course, you can also throw these juice cubes into beverages for added zest.
Chill Your Chili
When it comes to soups and chili, storing them in the refrigerator can be a recipe for disaster. It can be more difficult to tell if the items have gone bad, and long before they have you’ll notice that your favorite soup has more or less turned to mush.
Instead, wait for the soup to cool and then pour it into paper cups and place them in the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid, you’ll be able to peel the paper away. What you’ll be left with is portioned soup servings ready to thaw one at a time as desired.
Grab Breakfast On The Go
As a kid, you may remember being told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, many adults find themselves unable to prepare a meal as they head on their way out the door and off to work.
The good news is that you can freeze some of the breakfast foods you adore. Over the weekend, make an extra-large stack of pancakes or waffles, or a few more breakfast sandwiches. Heat them in the toaster oven while you get dressed and they’ll be ready before you are.
Don’t Lose Your Melons
One of the great things about melons is that they are one of the most affordable fruits. That’s because just one fruit has a heaping of servings in it. However, that’s also what can make them difficult to get through.
Rather than committing to eating only watermelon for the next week, just chop it into cubes and throw the leftovers into a freezer bag. Do the same with any other large-quantity fruits you have laying around, and before you know it you have a smoothie kit on the go.
Don’t Go Nuts Over Rancid Nuts
One of the most popular foods to buy in bulk are nuts. The power foods are nutrient-dense so that a little goes a very long way. However, that’s also why they tend to linger in the pantry for months or even years.
Due to their oil, nuts will inevitably go bad. You’ll know when they taste bitter that their time has come to an end. To prevent this from happening, keep them in the freezer. Doing so can extend their best flavor fourfold.
Keep Bread In The Freezer
Bread doesn’t have a permanent home in many kitchens. Some put it on the counter or in the pantry, while others throw it in the fridge. Without cold temperatures, bread will be more susceptible to bacteria. However, the fridge dries out bread at a rapid rate.
The ideal alternative is to keep it in the freezer. Those who hardly eat bread may prefer to defrost one slice at a time in the toaster oven. If you eat bread on the daily, defrost one loaf or part of a loaf at a time as needed.
Make Your Lunch The Week Before
For those who take a sack lunch to work or school, you’re probably familiar with having to pack your lunch the night before. Instead, you could make a ton of sandwiches over the weekend and freeze them all individually.
In the morning, take out a bag with whatever food items sound good for that day, including a frozen sandwich. It will help keep other perishable items chilled and will be thawed out by your lunch break.
Don’t Sweat The Dairy Products
Fun fact: plastic milk cartons are designed to expand. This means that you can throw your brand new gallon of milk into the freezer without opening it to pour some out. Just look for the circular indentation on the side.
For those who buy in bulk for their milk-loving kids, or only use milk and cream for baking, this hack can be a lifesaver. Cream, buttermilk, and other dairy products can quickly go from zero to 60 on the rank scale, so be sure to freeze what you won’t immediately use.
Get Crackin’ To Freeze The Eggs
Obviously, you don’t want to aimlessly throw an egg carton in the freezer at the risk of poor storage and difficulty cracking them open when you need them. Instead, crack the eggs into a large ice tray or directly into freezer bags.
You can even scramble the eggs ahead of time if that’s your preferred preparation method. Doing so will ensure that you never have to float your eggs in water to test if they’re safe to eat again.
Marinate Your Meat While You Store It
Those who purchase a lot of raw meat when they visit the grocery store may be familiar with chucking several packages of meat into the freezer. But before you do, try opening the package and placing the meat in a freezer bag along with some marinade.
By the time you defrost and cook it, the meat will be packed with flavor. Alternatively, you can cook large quantities of meat and freeze it afterward to prepare quick meals for the workweek.
Freeze Yogurt Instead Of Ice Cream
The next time you feel tempted to grab a carton of ice cream, consider getting a carton of sweetened yogurt instead. The yogurt will have less fat and more protein, keeping your sweet tooth satisfied.
Keep the yogurt in a freezer-safe container, or distribute the yogurt into a popsicle tray. Yogurt pops are a hassle-free, healthy alternative to other desserts and often come in a variety of flavors to quash any sugar craving you may have.