There are so many things you can freeze that you may never have thought of before! This list of more than 20 things you didn't know you can freeze will save you money and time!
Things you can Freeze
One question I am asked over and over by readers, friends, and family, is Can I freeze that?
If you were to open up my freezer--it is full! And mostly full of little tidbits of this or that I refuse to waste.
I truly DESPISE food waste. It hurts my heart to throw away chicken broth that was forgotten in the back of the fridge or a moldy jalapeno that was buried under 6 cucumbers (this has happened!)
Not only is it food waste, but letting food go to waste, is also a waste of money.
How Your Freezer Can Save You Money
When you peel vegetables, you throw those peels in the trash.
When your bananas are brown and you don't have time to make banana bread, those bananas go into the trash.
When you open a can of tomato paste for 1 tablespoon, typically the remainder of the can hit the garbage within the week.
All of those things can be frozen.
Which means they can be utilized in the future. Which will save you money. Potentially hundreds of dollars throughout the course of the year.
Not only can you stock your freezer with leftover meals and bulk grocery items--you can freeze things you NEVER thought of before, putting your trash to work for you!
Unexpected things to Freeze
So in keeping in mind saving money, time, and sanity, I put together a list of how to make your freezer work to save you money and preserve your food. Let's take a look at 20 of my favorite things to stash in my freezer that you may never have thought of before.
Freeze them to use in smoothies, or to blend with a bit of milk for banana "ice cream," or thaw out to bake muffins, cookies, or bread.
How to Freeze Bananas
- Peel overripe bananas and break into 1-inch chunks.
- Place on a sheet pan that has been lined with wax paper or parchment paper.
- Freeze until frozen solid.
- Place frozen banana chunks into freezer-safe bag and pull from the freezer as needed.
Recipes for Frozen Bananas
- Pina Colada Smoothies
- Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie
- Healthy Banana Bread
- Banana Cookies
- Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal
Freezing vegetable peels has to be my FAVORITE money-saving tip when it comes to freezer foods.
The peels from onions, the ends of a bunch of parsley, carrot peels, ends of garlic, the trimmings from celery are the perfect base for homemade broth.
How To Freeze Vegetable Scraps
- Be sure to wash your produce before peeling.
- Collect all your vegetable peels, remaining herbs, limp vegetables and place into a freezer-safe bag.
- Seal well and store in the freezer.
- Feel free to add to the collection as you collect more herbs and peels throughout the weeks.
- Use those scraps to make homemade vegetable stock or use with leftover chicken bones to make homemade chicken stock.
**I do NOT recommend freezing potato peels.
Whenever you are peel apples or oranges, do not throw away those skins or cores.
The fruit scraps are perfect for making a brining liquid for poultry and pork.
How to Freeze Fruit Scraps
- Be sure to wash your fruit before peeling.
- Collect all the peels and cores and place into a freezer-safe bag.
- Seal well and store in the freezer.
- Feel free to add to the collection as you collect more fruit scraps
- Use those scraps to make a delicious brine or even to make mulled cider or mulled wine.
Lemons and limes pack an incredible amount of flavor into dishes.
Both the zest and the juice of these citrus fruits should not be wasted.
How to Freeze Lemon and Lime Zest and Juice
- Wash and dry the lemon/lime before using it.
- Zest the fruit.
- Cut the citrus open and juice well--be sure to use my tip for juicing citrus fruit!
- Place the zest into a freezer safe bag.
- Pour the lemon/lime juice into an ice cube tray. Once the juice is frozen solid, pop into a labeled freezer-safe bag.
How to Use Frozen Citrus
Fresh citrus is best for salads, salsas, or dishes that are not cooked. But frozen zest and juice are great to use to brighten up cooked dishes.
- Add lemon juice to Chicken Soup at the end of cooking for a bright flavor.
- Use lime juice and lime zest in Slow Cooker Carnitas or Instant Pot Carnitas.
- Use the lemon zest for Lemon Bread.
Fresh Ginger is an incredible flavor enhancer, but it is pricey! However, fresh ginger grates perfectly from the freezer, so this flavorful root will last you for months!
How To Freeze Ginger
- Peel the fresh ginger root.
- Place in small freezer-safe bag and store in freezer.
- When a recipe calls for fresh ginger, use a microplane and grate if fresh from the freezer.
Herbs, whether fresh or store-bought, add amazing flavor to dishes, especially soups and stews.
But fresh herbs also tend to not have a long shelf life in the refrigerator.
Thankfully herbs can be frozen.
How To Freeze Fresh Herbs
- Hearty fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme, place the whole herb (stem and all) in a freezer-safe bag. Add to Beef Stew, Chicken Noodle Soup, or Chicken Marsala for an incredible flavor boost.
- For more delicate herbs like parsley, cilantro, and dill, chop, and place in ice cube trays. Fill the tray with water or oil and once frozen, pop into the freezer bag. These frozen herbs can be added to soups or casseroles. If you froze the herbs in oil, they can be the base for sauteing veggies.
There are many dishes that call for a tablespoon of tomato paste or chipotle peppers in adobe.
What do you do with the remaining bit left in the can?
FREEZE it of course!
How to Freeze Tomato Paste or Canned Tomato Products
- Place leftover tomato paste or chipotle peppers with adobe in an ice cube tray.
- Freeze until solid and then pop into a labeled freezer-safe bag.
- Store in the freezer for 3-6 months.
- Each cube is about 1 tablespoon. Add to recipes such as Chipotle Sofritas and Homemade Tomato Sauce as directed.
- Salsa is another great tomato product that freezes well. Freeze Salsa in 1-2 cup portions to use to flavor taco meat.
Sometimes a recipe will only call for 1-2 strips of bacon. But once you open a package of bacon you need to use it within 5 days.
You can either cook the entire package of bacon and freeze cooked bacon or freeze uncooked bacon.
The Best Way to Freeze Bacon
- Cooked Bacon
- Oven bake bacon.
- Allow to cool and place each slice of bacon in between pieces of waxed paper and then in a freezer-safe bag.
- To use, remove cooked bacon from the freezer and add to recipes as directed.
- Uncooked Bacon
- Layer the raw bacon slices in between wax paper, place it into a freezer-safe bag, and freeze. The wax paper prevents the bacon from sticking together and you can easily pullout a slice or two at a time.
- Cook or use as desired.
How to Use Frozen Bacon
If your bacon is pre-cooked, it is great for so many uses.
- Crumble over Spinach Salad
- Add to BLT pasta salad
- Add to Baked Beans
- Use for Turkey Clubs or BLTs
- Add to the filling of twice-baked potatoes
Coconut milk is rich and a little goes a long way. And while delicious in smoothies, oatmeal or curries rarely is a full can of coconut milk required.
How to Freeze Coconut Milk
- Pour leftover canned coconut milk into ice cube trays.
- Freeze the leftover coconut milk until solid.
- Once frozen, pop into a labeled bag.
- Use frozen coconut milk to blend directly into Pina Coladas or to add to cooked Thai dishes.
Some dairy items such as milk, buttermilk, cream, yogurt, cheese, and butter freeze well.
Sour cream, ricotta cheese, and cream cheese are a bit more finicky and do not freeze well. These items tend to separate and become grainy once thawed.
- Milk of all fat percentages and buttermilk can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- It is best to thaw in the refrigerator overnight and to shake well before using and is recommended to be used only in cooked or baked dishes.
- Another tip is to freeze milk into ice cube trays for use in milkshakes. You can use half the amount of ice cream and still have a delicious creamy taste.
Freezing Heavy Cream
- Heavy cream that has been frozen will not whip well after being thawed. It can, however, be added to baked dishes.
- Another option is to whip heavy cream and freeze in mounds to be used for desserts or hot chocolate.
- Wrap butter well (to prevent absorbing flavors from other items and to prevent freezer burn) and place in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Defrost in the fridge and use it as desired.
- Yogurt can be frozen for up to 3 months in the freezer. Defrost in the fridge before using it.
- A favorite way to freeze yogurt is to make Homemade Gogurts. You can place a frozen yogurt tube in a lunchbox in the morning. By lunchtime, the yogurt will have defrosted and been perfect for little (or big) ones to enjoy!
It is a huge money-saving tip to purchase cheese in bulk and freeze to use as needed.
- Be sure to grate cheese before freezing.
- Place in 1-2 cup portions in freezer-safe bags.
- Thaw in the refrigerator and used in dishes as desired.
*Frozen cheese is best used in dishes that are to be cooked.
Yes, I know you already store ice cream in the freezer, but to keep it from forming ice crystals if not being consumed within a few days, place a piece of wax paper over the top of the ice cream. It will help keep those crystals away!
Coffee and Tea
Have leftover coffee or tea?
Freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays to use for iced coffee, iced tea, or homemade frappes. The frozen cubes of tea or coffee will allow your iced beverage to not become watered down in flavor.
How To Freeze Coffee or Tea
- Pour leftover cooled coffee or tea into ice cube trays.
- Once frozen solid, pop out of ice cube tray and place in a labeled freezer-safe bag.
- Store in the freezer for 1-2 months.
A huge time saver for me is to freeze portions of cooked rice in my freezer.
How to Freeze Rice
- Cook rice according to package directions.
- Allow rice to cool and freeze in 1-2 cup portions.
- Defrost in the fridge overnight or remove frozen rice from the freezer bag/container and place it in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons water and microwave for 3-5 minutes until warmed through.
This technique also works great for cooked Quinoa.
To Freeze Cooked Beans
- Allow cooked beans to cool.
- Measure out 1 cup portions and place them in freezer-safe bags/containers.
- Freeze for up to 6 months.
- Defrost overnight in the fridge or add whole beans directly to Chili or soup and cook through.
Don't throw the ends of your bread away of stale bread away!
How to Freeze Bread
- Cube up leftover bread.
- Place on a baking sheet and freeze until solid.
- Once the bread is frozen, place in a freezer-safe bag and pull out to use for french toast casserole or stuffing. Or whirl frozen bread in a food processor for homemade bread crumbs.
Pancakes and Waffles
How to Freeze Pancakes
- Lay cooked pancakes or waffles in one layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper and freeze for 30 minutes.
- Once frozen solid, remove waffles and pancakes to freezer-safe bag or container.
- To reheat pancakes or waffles, pop one or more out of the bag at a time and reheat for 2 minutes in the microwave or toast in a toaster.
How to Freeze Oatmeal
- Cook oatmeal as directed.
- Place 1 cup portions into freezer-safe containers or bags.
- Defrost overnight in the fridge or place frozen oatmeal in a bowl with an additional 1-2 tablespoons water/milk and heat in microwave until warmed through.
Sausage or Smoked Meats
However, those cured meats can be a bit pricey, especially if purchasing organic, nitrate-free sausages.
A huge money-saving tip is to use 1 link of sausage or half a link of sausage to add flavor, but then freeze the rest to use later. A little bit of smoked meat goes a long way for flavor, but by limiting how much you use, you will save money and a few calories.
A Few Tips for Freezing
- Use high-quality freezer storage bags/containers to prevent freezer burn on your food.
- Ice cube trays are perfect for freezing herbs, milk, coffee, etc.
- Wrap things like a piece of meat or loaf of bread in wax paper or freezer paper before placing it in the freezer storage container to help retain freshness.
- When you are making casseroles or baked goods, make double the amount and wrap well to freeze for a busy weeknight dinner.
If you have another tip for freezing an item, please comment and let us all know so we can learn from each other!