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Cook Now Eat Later: 28 Items You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

by Monday, February 11, 2013

Wintertime always tends to put me into a bit of a squirrel mode. IE: I like to stash and bury things now that will save me time and money later.  Over the years I have come up with some interesting items that you may never have thought could be frozen for use at a later date.

1. Cheese

You can freeze blocks of cheese without it becoming crumbly if you let it 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.

2. Homemade Pancakes, Waffles, French Toast

Why waste money?  Leggo the Eggo’s forever and make up a few batches over the weekend for quick “defrost and go” breakfasts during the week. Freeze on a cookie sheet, and then toss them in a freezer bag. Reheat in the microwave, toaster, or toaster oven.


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3. Fruit

When freezing fruit, it’s best to first slice the fruit and spread out on freezer or parchment paper on a cookie sheet, then freeze it and place in bags. Individual frozen pieces let you pull out just how much you need without having to thaw the whole fruit

4. Rice

Cook a big batch of rice, spread it on a cookie sheet on parchment paper and freeze. When the rice is frozen, just put in a freezer bag or containers and you have instant rice. Use in casseroles, soups or  my favorite, fried rice.

5. Pies

Make apple pies in the fall to enjoy all year. Bake them and freeze them in freezer bags wrapped in freezer paper then when you have a hankering for pie, take out of the freezer, remove wrapping, and place in oven for about 2 hours at 200 degrees.


6. Corn

Put the whole ear of corn, husk, silk and all into the 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 it was fresh picked!

7. Pasta

Whenever you make pasta, go ahead and cook the whole package. Freeze any leftovers for later to add to soups and casseroles.

Or freeze individual size portions in smaller freezer bag.  Squeeze out the air and get the bag as flat as possible. Thaw it by soaking the bag in hot water for a few minutes!

8. Flour and Other Grains

Freezing flour and other types of grain that come into the house for at least three days discourages any uninvited “guests” from hatching.

If you decide to store it in the freezer, make sure to double wrap the it to avoid condensation and to keep it from picking up other freezer smells.


9. Pesto

Make or buy your favorite pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, pop the cubes into freezer bags and enjoy whenever you need.

10. Mashed Potatoes

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. These stay good for about two months

11. Cookie Dough

Make a big batch of your favorite cookie dough, lay them out just like you would if you were boing to bake them and then put them in the freezer. When they are frozen solid put them in freezer bags.

This lets you make as many or as few cookies as you want instead of having to cook…and eat a whole batch of them.  This works great for me when I am on a diet, so I don’t feel guilty about eating a whole box of cookies. Just be sure to add 1 to 2 minutes to the cook time.


12. Soups and Chili

Cool leftover soup completely and transfer to a freezer-friendly container, leaving plenty of space for expansion. The night before eating, move the container to the fridge to thaw safely and then reheat it on the stove or in the microwave.

13. 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 the bag fills up you can use it to make vegetable stock.

Keep another bag for pan drippings or sauces that are left after cooking chicken. This can be used to flavor soups.

14. Potato Chips, Crackers and Pretzels

Find a good sale on all your salty snacks? Then it’s time to stock up on chips, crackers and pretzels and throw them in the freezer.


15. Milk

Ever notice that plastic milk jugs have those indentations on the side? They are there to allow milk to expand while freezing!

To use frozen milk, let thaw, and then SHAKE WELL before opening, to make sure any solids are remixed.

16. Juice

Like milk, the only concern about freezing juice is leaving room for expansion. A good rule of thumb is to leave 8 ounces of space for every half gallon of juice.

17. Bread, Baked Goods

When your favorite bread is on sale, stock up and freeze it. Or when you’re in a baking mood, make extras of your favorite baked goods and freeze them for later.


18. Buttercream Frosting

Freeze leftover frosting then when you need to frost something or just need a sugar fix! let it thaw in the fridge, then whip it up and it works just like fresh frosting.

19. Tomato Paste

Most recipes using tomato paste only call for one tablespoon out of the whole can, which always seems like a waste to me.  Take what you need from the can, then put the rest in a little freezer bag, flatten it out in the freezer, and when you need a tablespoon, just break off a piece and throw it into your mix.

20. Diced vegetables

Dice onions, chili’s, or bell peppers, then freeze flat in gallon freezer bags. As they are freezing,  use a non serrated butter knife  or fork to press “score lines” into the bags so you can break off as much or as little as you wish for recipes.


21. Homemade and Store-Bought Dough

You can freeze just about any type of dough. Shape the dough into a ball and wrapp in saran wrap then freeze
You can also freeze canned biscuits, crescent rolls, pizza dough, etc. right in the tube. Stock up when they are on sale!

22. Eggs

Sounds gross but it really works.  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.

23. Shredded Chicken

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. (Be sure and use THIS TRICK to shred it!) Great timesaver when making enchiladas!

24. Lemon/Lime Juice and Zest

Squeeze lemons and limes into ice cube trays, then pop them out after they have frozen and store in freezer bags. Now you have “fresh” lemon and lime juice whenever you need it. AND, you never have to kick yourself for letting another bag of lemons from Costco go to waste! (Been there, done that.)

Don’t forget to ZEST the lemons/limes first and keep that in the freezer as well!

25. Herbs

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.

26. Marinated Meat

Place meat in a freezer bag, pour in marinade and freeze. When you defrost it, it will be fully marinated and ready to cook.


27. Casseroles

When you are cooking a casserole, go ahead and make two of them. FREEZE one for when unexpected company drops by or to use as a no hassle meal during a busy work week where you may not have the time.

28. Hamburger

Pre-cook ground hamburger and portion it out for meals. When you need hamburger for shepherd’s pie, sloppy joes, tacos, or whatever just pull it out of the freezer, add the seasoning, and microwave. Three 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, like chili, just throw it in frozen.

Can you think of anything that I missed? Or do you have any secret recipes that you would like to add in for a simple, quick, and delicious fresh out the freezer dinner for those of us on the run?

Let me know in the comments below.

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59 Comments on "Cook Now Eat Later: 28 Items You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze"

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marthafearsme
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marthafearsme
3 years 7 months ago
1+

I have been freezing cheese for years, grates fine afterwards. I also freezelemons whole, grate zest frozen and thaw for juice. Great tips, thanks.

Karen
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Karen
3 years 7 months ago
1+

If bananas get overripe … don’t throw then out. Put them in the freezer. The skins do turn black but the fruit is fine. Use from frozen in smoothies ir thaw to use in your favorite bread or cake recipe.

Belinda
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Belinda
2 years 10 months ago
2+

My grandkids love my frozen bananas. I put a piece of wax paper on a paper plate and slice the bananas 1/4″ thick onto the plate. When frozen they taste just like banana ice cream. I’ve saved a lot of overripe bananas this way. You have to eat them while frozen or they get mushy. Never really had much trouble with leftovers, though. 🙂

Mrhycannon
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Mrhycannon
2 years 1 month ago
0

I also do cantalopes.. They get mushy too.. I freeze in small bowls.. When grandkids come over I give them a bowl from freezer and a spoon.. They love it.!

BeckyBT
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BeckyBT
2 years 5 months ago
1+

My friend Alyson recommended this and I love it: Frozen bananas, take off the peel and individually freeze them; serve frozen and drip chocolate syrup over them for a Real Treat

Anita
Guest
3 years 7 months ago
1+ Great article on all types of goodies to freeze. =D There was a time when I was a “freezaholic.” I packed so much food in my freezer you’d have thought the sides would bow out. I learned the hard way what happens when you discover your freezer died when you open the door (days later). I lost a LOT of food to spoilage and what little didn’t spoil was either canned/cooked/given away or fed to the livestock. I still love my freezer for some foods, but don’t depend on it for bulk storage. I process can and dehydrate a… Read more »
Berenice
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Berenice
3 years 7 months ago
0

I learned that lesson too and lost a good deal of meat. Nothing could be salvaged. I only use the freezer for short tern storage now. I’m starting up a small garden again this year and will do more canning and drying of foods. Don’t need to do much for only one person luckily.

Jungle Jeff
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Jungle Jeff
1 year 9 months ago
2+

A ‘rider’ insurance policy on your homeowners or renters insurance is just dollars a year. I lost TWO FULL freezers during Maine’s ice storm in ’98; insurance rep came out, inventoried the freezer contents, and cut me a check for 50% MORE than cost of stuff… as I bought in bulk on sale and repackaged, HE CALCULATED RETAIL.

Allen
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Allen
3 years 7 months ago
1+

Hi,
I live in interior Alaska and have found that you can freeze almost anything as far as food for later use is concerned. You mentioned 1 that we do a lot which is milk. Yogurt, cream cheese almost any dairy product or non dairy creamers etc all freeze well. You mentioned Bananas, which we do for smoothies, banana bread etc. Tomatoes as well for cooking. Orange and other juices freeze OK. As you said, if liquid, thaw out and shake well or the milk may be lumpy.
Al

Liz
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Liz
3 years 7 months ago
0

What was the trick for shredding chicken?

Millie
Guest
3 years 7 months ago
0

I baggie and freeze leftover pasta, microwave in the bag till thawed and steaming hot, Tastes freshly cooked.

Babycog
Guest
Babycog
2 years 10 months ago
1+

Any cooked chicken or turkey can be shredded with a fork, or by hand, and frozen in bags for later use in enchiladas, soups, etc.

KJ
Guest
KJ
1 year 11 months ago
0 If you put your chicken in a food processor and give it a few presses of the button it shreds it quickly. Be careful not to let it chop too long or it will be superfine, unless you want it that way for maybe chicken salad or something like that. It’s a lot quicker than shredding by hand! Great tips!! I’m going to try a lot of these. I’ve frozen butter before. Works just fine. If you want to freeze your own fresh vegetables, in most cases (like broccoli, squashes, cauliflower, etc) you have to parboil them. Boil them… Read more »
Ken
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Ken
3 years 7 months ago
0

Freezers are great for all of these things, but more as a convenience in daily life versus preparedness storage. I believe Anita’s experience is all too common, and would be good to heed. Virtually all of these foods have other means of storage which are not susceptible to power failure.

One preparedness use not mentioned was vacuum sealing your garden seeds and storing them in the freezer.

Cindy
Guest
Cindy
3 years 7 months ago
0 I travel a lot and work some funky hours, I learned a long time ago to make my own “frozen dinners”. As mentioned, soups, any kind freeze well, as do casseroles and any gravy or tomato based meal or sauces Make an extra Shepards Pie and freeze it Stuffed pasta shells I make my own baked beans and vacuum seal them in small packages Freeze stuffed peppers Thanks Giving dinners (mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy) Bake 8 large potatoes and turn them into twice baked, then I’ll make mini meat loaf and will freeze a meat loaf and twice… Read more »
Berenice
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Berenice
3 years 7 months ago
0

I always make apple or peach pie to freeze using tin pie pans then invert one pie tin over the filled pie and use freezer tape to seal the two tins together. That way you can use them over and over again, fill the pies high and not have the tops get crushed. And they stack up well in the freezer. You can write what kind of pie it is on the freezer tape.

Tamara Thompson
Guest
Tamara Thompson
3 years 7 months ago
0

Bernice, I put the pie pans on top too. I didnt have enough to make many pies so bought some at goodwill to go on top. They dont have to be perfect on top. Now I can make a lot and it doesnt cost me a lot 🙂

Chuck
Guest
Chuck
3 years 7 months ago
0 My wife and I like half brown rice which takes longer to cook, so she always makes a rice cooker full of rice and breezes it in balls the size of two golf balls. Onigiri is the Japanese name for rice balls and that is soul food for Japanese as they make onigiri for many purposes. The rice balls make a single serving of rice, so if she feels like rice and I don’t or vice versa, we have single servings frozen and in the freezer at all times. Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice. You can… Read more »
Theresa
Guest
3 years 7 months ago
0

I also would like to know the trick for shredding chicken.

KJ
Guest
KJ
1 year 11 months ago
0

I gave an idea above under Liz’s question about it.

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