Can you freeze cheese? Can you freeze cookies? What about lunch meat? If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, this post is for you!
The biggest part of shelf cooking is using the food that you have and not being wasteful, obviously. But what about when you have food in your refrigerator or on your counter that’s going to go bad before you can eat it?
Or what if the store is having a craaazy sale on something like avocados (because those things aren’t cheap and you better JUMP on those sales!), but you’ll never be able to eat it all before it goes bad?
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I’m about to blow your mind with all the things you can freeze!! You’re about to look at your freezer in awe 😉 But first, let me give you 3 crazy simple reasons you should use your freezer with purpose and intention…
REASONS TO USE YOUR FREEZER
- It saves you money – The number one reason to freeze foods is the fact that it saves you buckets of money. You can buy in bulk and freeze whatever you won’t use right away, which means you can take advantage of allllll the sales.
- It saves you time – If you prep and store foods properly then you can take advantage of your frozen stockpile to create delicious meals quickly!
- It’s easy and convenient – It is so much easier to shop your freezer than to make a last minute run to the grocery store when you realize your fridge is empty! Does that happen to anyone else?
Enter your freezer. That bad boy can freeze so many foods that I bet you didn’t know you could freeze! So, what foods can you freeze and still have them be tasty once they thaw?
CAN YOU FREEZE PRODUCE?
Yes! Produce is one of those hard items that you may buy, but it doesn’t always stay good long enough for you to eat it. The beauty of freezing fresh fruit – it can be past its prime and you can still freeze it for smoothies!
- Bananas – Whole, sliced, blended, whatever floats your boat! They make a delicious addition to a smoothie and obviously make some good banana bread.
- Berries – Whole cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. These are all super easy to freeze and as I said, they’re GREAT in smoothies!
- Fruit – Sliced watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, grapes, kiwi, etc. freeze well. Just make sure that you flash freeze (spread them out on a sheet pan and freeze) before putting them into a freezer baggie or else you’ll end up with a huge clump of fruit that you’ll never get apart!
- Whole avocados – You can also freeze guacamole.
- Most veggies – Corn, peas, carrots, onions, peppers, you name it! You may need to blanch some of them before freezing.
- Roasted tomatoes or bell peppers – Bake your tomatoes with herbs and spices and a drizzle of olive oil and then freeze in freezer bags. This can easily be added to soups and sauces.
- Squash and sweet potato – Cube or shred a batch of zucchini or sweet potato for quick hash browns. You can also thaw these and throw them into muffins or other baked goods for added nutrition!
- Spinach – Bag and freeze! So simple and helps prevent so much leafy waste. Frozen spinach is perfect to toss into a smoothie!
Pro Tip: Make smoothie bags by adding 2 cups spinach and 2 cups of fruit to a freezer bag. Freeze and then when you’re ready to make a smoothie, toss the contents of the bag into the blender with 2 cups liquid! Bam! Instant green smoothie!
CAN YOU FREEZE DAIRY?
Yep! This is one that a lot of people probably don’t know about. The biggest thing to keep in mind when freezing dairy is that it will change the texture on a lot of these things, so they’re best to be used by cooking or mixing it in to something.
- Butter, stick or tub – This is a great one to stock up on when it’s on sale and then you always have a stock to pull from.
- Sour cream – Changes consistency so its best to use for baking or cooking when thawed. It probably won’t make the best topping for your tacos.
- Ricotta cheese – Be mindful that this also changes consistency – but there are so many ways to use ricotta cheese after its thawed.
- Cream cheese – This is one that can change consistency. However, thawing it in the refrigerator slow and steady gives the best result. Plan ahead when you want to use it again.
- Cheese, sliced or shredded – It’s always great to have cheese on hand! While you can freeze a whole block of cheese, I wouldn’t suggest doing that since it makes it hard to use once you thaw it. Slice or shred it before you freeze to make it more convenient to use for meal prep.
- Yogurt – Yogurt tubes are great to freeze and they keep the same consistency. Yogurt bites are great to freeze for teething babies and toddlers. However, if you freeze it in the container, it can sometimes change consistency. We like to use it in our smoothies.
- Milk – Yep, you read that right! I recommend freezing it in an ice cube tray if you’ll just need a few tablespoons at a time to cook with, in 1-cup increments in a freezer baggie if you have recipes that call for that amount, or by the gallon!
- Heavy Cream – So if you buy it for a specific recipe but don’t use it all, it doesn’t have to go to waste!
Pro Tip: When freezing any liquid, you want to leave room for expansion. You definitely don’t want to have an explosion in your freezer! Leave at least a half inch or more of space at the top of your container.
This one is probably a big ole duh to you. But did you know that you can freeze both raw and cooked meat? I like to buy meat in bulk, cook it, and then freeze in smaller meal-sized portions. It makes dinner prep super easy on those busy nights!
- Beef – A vacuum sealer will save your wallet and keep your meat from getting freezer burn, they’re totally worth the investment!
- Chicken – Freeze chicken as soon as you bring it home or cook it up first. You can freeze grilled and shredded chicken for easy meal prep.
- Rotisserie chicken – I like to buy pre-cooked rotisserie chickens at the store (especially if they’re on clearance), debone, and freeze for later use in a casserole!
- Pork – I usually buy it in bulk and then freeze it in smaller meal-sized portions, especially if I’m buying pork chops.
- Fish/Seafood – This is another one that I prefer to vacuum seal when I need to freeze it. It really helps it to stay fresh!
- Lunch meat – I buy in bulk when it’s on sale and then freeze in the individual packages. Just pull them out a day or 2 before you need them to thaw.
- Hot dogs/Sausage – I buy these on sale and throw them in the freezer as-is, I’ll just put them in a freezer bag as an extra added layer of protection. If your family won’t eat a whole pack (or half a pack) at once, then portion them into smaller amounts before freezing.
- Eggs – Yes, you can freeze them! I like to pre-scramble a bunch of eggs and then freeze them in a freezer baggie. Thaw them overnight in the fridge and you can have some ready-to-cook scrambled eggs in the morning!
Pro tip: When freezing meat, it is genius to freeze in meal size portions. This tip is solid for freezing both raw or cooked meat. You don’t want to have to thaw more than you’ll use for one meal because you then have to worry about using it up before it goes bad. We’re trying to avoid that extra stress!
If you can find it in the frozen food aisle, then you can make it and freeze it at home! You’ll just need a few different items to freeze them properly and you’ll be good to go.
- Freezer meals – Lasagna, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, taco casserole, you get the jist!
- Pizza – You could easily make your own pizza at home and then freeze before baking. Then pull it out and put it straight into the oven to cook. A quick frozen pizza that’s homemade? Sign me up!
- Sauces – Freeze in a mason jar (leave room at the top for expansion) or place in a freezer baggie.
- Soups – Freeze the same as sauces. My biggest tip for freezing things like this in baggies is to use a Freezer Cube to keep them tidy and organized!
- Cooked rice and pasta – You can either freeze them plain, ready to be added to any meal, or freeze any meal that includes them.
- Cooked beans – This is a great one because beans can take a long time to cook, so it’s great to make a lot at once, and then freeze for later use.
- Slow cooker dump meals – Just put together in a freezer bag so that you can dump and go on busy mornings!
- Hummus – Make sure that you add a thin layer of olive oil to top to preserve the moisture before freezing in a freezer-safe container. Just leave a little bit of room for expansion.
Pro Tip: When making freezer meals simply double or triple what you’re making, put in a disposable tray, triple the foil on top and write the name and cooking instructions on top. For the least amount of baking time, thaw casseroles overnight.
CAN YOU FREEZE PASTRIES?
Have you guessed that my answer is going to be yes, yet? My biggest tip for freezing baked goods is to thaw them on the counter. If it gets weird and crusty, just wrap it in a damp paper towel and microwave it for a few seconds to make it soft. And warm pastries are the best, right?
- Bread – You can freeze a whole loaf of bread or did you know you can even make individual sandwiches and freeze them for lunches!?
- Tortillas – Freeze in giant packs when they are on sale or prep burritos or quesadillas to freeze for lunches!
- Muffins – If you buy those giant muffins, you can quarter and freeze them for an easy snack.
- Bagels – Do you have a favorite pastry shop that makes your favorite bagels? If you ever go in right before they close when they’re selling them for cheap to try to get rid of them, this is a great way to store them for eating them later!
- English muffins – Make your own breakfast sandwiches with these babies. You can even prep them and place them in the freezer to store for quick grab-and-go breakfasts.
- Bread crumbs – They’ll stay fresher longer!
- Homemade pancakes, waffles, french toast – Breakfast food you can make ahead can be frozen for quick breakfasts during the week. Flash freeze them individually before adding them to a freezer bag so they don’t all stick together.
Pro Tip: Remember when packaging anything for the freezer that the less air in the bag, the less freezer burn your food will experience. Make sure that everything is airtight. Wrap well with tin foil before placing in ziploc baggies. Or for sandwiches, place them in sandwich bags carefully getting rid of excess air and then place them in another airtight container to prevent freezer burn.
ALL THE SWEETS
If you’re anything like me, then you’re known to stock up on all of the holiday candy once the stores put it on sale. Then you can snack on those specialty candies that aren’t available in store all year round (Cadbury Mini Eggs and Reece’s Peanut Butter Trees, anyone?).
- Candy bars – I throw the whole bag in the freezer!
- Chocolate – I’ll freeze this according to how I’ll need to use it later. If I buy a big block of baker’s chocolate, I’ll freeze it into smaller portions since it’s really hard to cut frozen chocolate!
- Cake – Make sure that it has cooled completely. Wrap it completely in Glad Press’n’Seal to help keep any air out. Then wrap it in foil. Make sure that you date and label it for later use! You can also freeze a cake with icing on it. Flash freeze it long enough for the icing to freeze, then wrap as stated above.
- Cookies – After baking, allow them to cool completely. Flash freeze in a single layer, then store in a freezer baggie.
- Cupcakes – You basically do the same steps as the cake. But instead of wrapping them in foil, throw them in a freezer baggie once they’re individually wrapped. This is a great idea if you need to prep for a party a few weeks in advance!
- Chocolate chips – I freeze them directly in their bag. Then once I open them, I put them in a freezer bag before putting them back in the freezer.
- Cookie dough – You can either make your own cookie dough to freeze, or stock up when they’re on sale at the store.
Pro Tip: When it comes to freezing cookie dough, you can freeze in individual scoops so that you can bake as many as you want when a cookie craving strikes. You can also freeze your dough in a tube shape and create your own “slice and bake” cookies.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU FREEZE?
Here are some more random things that you might not have known that you could freeze. (And if you did, then you’re a freezing rock star!)
- Yeast – This helps it to last longer!
- Nuts – Chopped or whole
- Chia seeds – I leave them in their package and put into another freezer bag for an extra layer of protection (and to keep them from spilling everywhere since my bag doesn’t close on it’s own).
- Flax seeds – My package has a zipper top, so I just freeze them as-is!
- Sunflower seeds – I freeze these in a freezer bag, just make sure to get as much air out as possible.
- Seeds for your garden – Seriously! Just make sure that your seeds are thoroughly dried before freezing or else they’ll crack or split.
- Flour – I leave it in the original package and then put into a freezer bag for an extra layer of protection.
- Egg roll wrappers – It’s best to open the package, and put a layer of wax paper in between each wrapper. That way they don’t stick together when you thaw and use them.
- Herbs and spices – If you have a garden, then this is a great way to store the herbs and spices that you won’t be able to use before they go bad. Just do your homework on how to specifically freeze each one. Some can be flash frozen and stored in a freezer bag, some can be frozen in an ice cube tray with water, and some in an ice cube tray with oil.
Pro Tip: Label everything…. the worst thing I can imagine is finding a block of something unrecognizable in the freezer. Okay, I can probably imagine worse. But labeling the contents with the name, date and prep instructions saves a big headache in the long run! Organize by date so you are always using the oldest items first. You can even keep an inventory attached to your freezer to help you keep track of the contents of your precious freezer. (Learn how to inventory your food in this post!) This is a huge tool to use during meal planning and prep!
Whew, what. a. list! I know that I didn’t even come close to touching on everything that you can freeze. It probably would have been easier to just make a list of things you should not freeze.
What else would you add to the list that is a must-freeze in your house? Let me know in the comments!
Now that you know how to freeze your foods, make sure that you check out these other posts!