Freezing food is a great way to save on your grocery bill and today that is a necessity. There are so many foods that you can freeze to use later that will save you time and money.
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When you consider the best food to freeze think about buying foods on sale and freezing them, or buying in bulk. Or when you have bits and pieces of something, freeze it to be used later. I do this all the time and it's been a lifesaver for me.
But wait there's more, maybe you made a great big cake and can't eat it all, freeze the leftovers, same for cookies and other desserts.
Why you should freeze food
We've already gone over a few but here are a few more
- Quite simply, freezing food will save you money.
- Instead of throwing away food that isn't looking its best, but is still edible, freeze it. Stale bread is good to use for stuffing, fruits that you won't use before they get mushy for cobblers and pies, and vegetables that can be used later for, casseroles, broth, or soup.
- Buy fruits and vegetables in season and freeze them for later.
- Having food in the freezer is super convenient, like butter, cheese, cookie dough, casseroles, or extra spaghetti sauce. It is wonderful to have something on hand and not have to run to the store.
- Just don't let good food go to waste.
How to freeze foods
All foods do have specific ways to freeze but here are some basics.
- Most fruits and vegetables need to be spread out on a cookie sheet or tray so each piece freezes individually. Otherwise, if you throw these foods into a freezer bag they may all freeze together in a big icy ball. This is also true for freezing cookie dough.
- Once the foods have frozen put them in freezer bags, wrap in aluminum foil or place them in freezer containers.
- Never place hot food in the freezer, let it cool first, such as sauce, bread, or a casserole.
- If foods don't fit in a container or freezer bag, wrap them well in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. This is key to keeping the freezer burn away.
So, what food can you freeze? Here are a few ideas:
Yum, bacon! Can you freeze bacon, yes, you can freeze both cooked and uncooked bacon. And since bacon freezes so well, it's always a good idea to have some on hand.
I like to dice the bacon and fry it for bacon crumbles or you can fry the slices. Just cook it up and then put it in the freezer in a freezer-safe container or bag.
If you want to freeze uncooked bacon, stack five to six slices on a piece of wax paper and wrap that up and then put it in a freezer bag or wrap it in foil.
Freeze bread now to make bread stuffings for later, and this definitely comes in handy during the holidays. Don't forget to freeze cornbread too!
Make your own chicken stock using chicken bones and vegetables, then freeze the bags of stock which tastes so much better than the canned broth.
I freeze peelings from garlic, onions, and carrots, stems from herbs, the cores of tomatoes, and other pieces of veggies to add to my chicken broth.
You may not think of butter as something you need to freeze, but why not? And especially when it freezes like a dream and lasts for months in the freezer. So, next time you see butter on sale, buy a few boxes and pop them in the freezer.
Parmesan Rinds - If you've ever savored a dish made with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, then you know how much flavor this little ingredient can add. But what about the rinds? Well, they're useful, too. You can add them to soups to give them a boost of flavor. Just throw them in a freezer-safe bag and store them in the freezer until you're ready to use them.
Shredded Cheese - Raise your hand if you've had to throw out a hunk of cheese because it went bad before you used it all. Yeah, us too. But, if you shred your cheese and then freeze it, you'll never have to waste it again. Just make sure to use freezer-safe bags or containers. We recommend using frozen cheese within seven to nine months.
You can also buy bags of frozen cheese and just toss them in the freezer for later. I freeze a lot of cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese.
Chicken is one of the most versatile proteins out there. You can use it in various dishes, and it freezes well. When you're at the grocery store, look for chicken breasts on sale and stock up. The same goes for turkey.
You can also freeze chicken bones for some healthy homemade chicken stock.
This is how to freeze raw chicken. Place individual pieces of chicken on wax paper and wrap them up, then put the wrapped chicken in plastic freezer bags.
Urgent guests, no problem! You can easily make fresh cookies by taking some dough out of the freezer. And, since dough freezes so well, you can make a big batch and then keep it in the freezer for when the mood strikes. Make dough balls, flatten them slightly, and then put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze, then transfer the frozen cookie dough balls to a freezer bag.
This is a great way to have single servings of dessert. Wrap slices individually and freeze.
- Baked cookies
- Quick bread - freeze the whole loaf or just slices
- Slices of cakes
If you have a recipe that separates the eggs and you only need the whites or the yolks, make sure to freeze them.
Egg whites - Use frozen egg whites for baked goods and egg washes.
Egg yolks - Keep frozen egg yolks for when you need an egg wash or when a recipe calls for just egg yolks. Beat the egg yolk, then add a tiny pinch of kosher salt or sugar. Place beaten yolks in an ice cube tray to freeze, then place them in freezer bags.
The reason to add salt or sugar to egg yolks for freezing is that it keeps the yolk from thickening when freezing.
How to freeze whole eggs - Break the egg into a bowl, add a very small pinch of kosher salt or sugar and gently mix it to just combine the yolk and the white. Try not to incorporate any air into the egg. Pour the egg into an ice cube tray and freeze until firm, then transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container.
If you have several eggs to freeze, just break them up in a bowl, add the salt or sugar, then lightly mix. Pour the egg mixture into the ice cube tray and freeze. So if you are freezing six eggs, then fill six squares of the tray, that way each cube is one whole egg.
Before using a frozen egg, let it thaw in the refrigerator.
We've all shelled out money for a big container of fresh berries, only to have them go bad a few days later. But if you pop them in the freezer, they'll last for months. Frozen berries are perfect for smoothies, yogurt toppings, and baking.
The right way to freeze fruits is to wash them if necessary, cut them up if necessary, place them on a tray in a single layer then pop them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag.
Apples - It's best to core and slice or dice the apples then place them in a freezer bag. It's up to you if you want to peel them. You can also freeze cooked apples.
Berries - Do you ever have more berries than you can eat? Freezing blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries whole are easy to do, just freeze them on trays and then pop them into freezer bags.
If you buy a bag of fresh cranberries you can just put the whole bag in the freeze straight from the store. I buy extra bags so I will have them all year long.
Cherries - Before freezing cherries, wash, stem and pit the cherries, freeze on a tray first then transfer them to a freezer bag.
Frozen grapes make a healthy snack. Just remove green grapes from the stem, lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and freeze. Eat these grapes while still frozen.
Lemons - There are a variety of ways to freeze lemons. You can freeze lemons whole and then grate them for all kinds of dishes. Or slice the lemons, set them on a tray, freeze then transfer them to a freezer bag.
Lemon juice - Juice the lemons and freeze the juice in ice cube trays. This is perfect for adding to drinks.
Freeze fresh peaches, apricots, plums, or nectarines. Wash, pit, then slice the peaches and lay them on the baking sheet, and freeze. Use frozen peaches in smoothies, bake something wonderful like these Raspberry Peach Crumb Bars, or bake this Peach Pandowdy for a quick dessert. You can even make this Creamy Peach Ice Cream with frozen peaches.
Pineapple - Freeze slices and chunks of pineapple, which are perfect to add to smoothies.
Freezing strawberries is a little different. Wash the berries, cut off the stem and let dry. You may have to slice the berries depending on how you will eventually use them and how big they are. Lay the whole berries or slices on the tray and freeze them, then transfer them to a freezer bag.
Fresh ginger doesn't last long in the refrigerator. Freezing gingerroot is so simple and you will still have the fresh flavor of ginger. Simply place a fresh gingerroot in a plastic bag and freeze it. You can peel the ginger if you want but it isn't necessary. You can easily grate frozen ginger.
If you prefer, peel and then slice the ginger and then freeze it in a plastic bag.
Chop them up and place them in an ice cube tray with olive oil or water, and freeze.
You can freeze whole packages of hamburger or make individual patties and wrap each pattie in wax paper, then place them in a freezer bag. You can even buy hamburger in bulk then break them down into smaller amounts and wrap and freeze them. Make these Cast Iron Skillet Burgers with thawed hamburger.
Make pie dough then shape into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic before putting it in a freezer-safe bag. Try this easy homemade pie dough recipe.
Do you cook a lot of rice? If so, you know how frustrating it is when it gets all clumpy. But, if you freeze your rice, it will stay nice and fluffy. Just cool it completely before freezing. Otherwise, it will get mushy.
Freezing spaghetti sauce is a big time saver for when you just want a small amount for later, or you just cooked too much. Once the sauce is completely cooled then pour it into freezer containers.
Barbeque sauce freezes well too so add this sauce to your freezer
Broth-based soups freeze well and are perfect to pull out of the fridge for individual servings. After you make the soup let it cool completely then store it in freezer containers.
Cream soups tend to separate and get a grainy texture when frozen and soups that contain starches reheat well.
While some vegetables can lose their texture and flavor when frozen, others taste better. For example, freezing corn on the cob is a great way to preserve its sweetness. And blanching vegetables before freezing them can help retain their color, texture, and nutrients.
Some vegetables that you can easily freeze are:
- green beans
- celery - can only be used for cooked dishes, like soups and stews
- corn -
- broccoli - cut into stems
- cauliflower - cut in florets
- onion - chop first
- tomatoes - chopped or pureed
- zucchini - diced is best
- All kinds of peppers
Also, keep all the vegetable scrapes from peeling and chopping in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. You can use them later to make vegetable or chicken broth.
It's best to cut up vegetables before freezing. Again, freeze on a cookie sheet, then put in freezer bags.
Next time you make corn on the cob, cook extra ears, then cut the corn off the cobs and freeze. You will get that fresh roasted corn taste throughout the year.
One of the most flavorsome ways to add some zing to your dishes is by using tomato paste, but many times you don't need the whole can. Lucky for you it freezes well. Just drop a tablespoon on a wax paper-lined tray and freeze. Once frozen transfer to a freezer bag.
Did you know you can freeze wine? Freeze in ice cube trays then place the frozen cubes of wine in a freezer bag. These wine cubes are perfect for deglazing pans or added to stews for great flavor.
Final thoughts on freezing foods:
You can also freeze cooked meals which is great for those busy nights. Casseroles freeze well like this Hamburger Hashbrown Casserole, or this Chicken and Rice Casserole heats up beautifully for a hearty meal.
Casserole freezing tip - You can freeze unbaked casseroles if they do not contain raw meat, and if the meat has been cooked then you can freeze an unbaked casserole.
If you want to freeze a baked casserole, let it cool completely then wrap the casserole in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil.
To make life easy, always label everything with the name and date. Also, use freezer bags instead of containers whenever possible because they take up less space. And don't freeze something if you're not sure it will be good.
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From learning to cook on a farm in Indiana to culinary school in California, my passion for food is never-ending. Turning on my oven to bake something for friends and family is my happy place, and I am glad to be here at One Hot Oven sharing both sweet and savory family-friendly recipes for your cooking and baking inspiration.