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 them all before they go bad?
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We're about to blow your mind with all the things you can freeze!! Be prepared to look at your freezer in awe. 😉 But first, let us give you three crazy simple reasons you should use your freezer with purpose and intention…
REASONS TO USE YOUR FREEZER
Go ahead and just become BFFs with your freezer already! Because when we're done with you, you'll never want to part ways with it again. And you may just find that you're using it more than you used to!
- Saves You Money – The number one reason to freeze food is the fact that it saves you buckets of money. You can buy food in bulk and freeze whatever you won't use right away, which means you can take advantage of allllll the sales. (As long as it fits within your grocery budget, of course!)
- 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 we bet you didn't know you could freeze! So, which foods can you freeze that'll still taste great once they thaw? Let's go over our favorite foods to freeze!
CAN YOU FREEZE PRODUCE?
Yes! Produce is one of those food types that seem to go bad before you can eat it. The beauty of freezing fresh fruit and veggies – it can be past its prime and you can still freeze it for smoothies or cooking in something else!
- Bananas – Whole, sliced, blended, whatever floats your boat! They make a delicious addition to a smoothie and obviously make good banana bread.
- Berries – Whole cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. These are all super easy to freeze and they're GREAT in smoothies!
- Fruit – Sliced watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, grapes, kiwi, etc. freeze well. Just make sure 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 – Yep, you read that right! You can freeze whole avocados. *Mind blown* 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, 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 potatoes 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, a casserole, or your favorite pasta dish!
Pro Tip: Make smoothie packs by adding 2 cups of 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 of liquid! Bam! Instant healthy smoothie!
CAN YOU FREEZE DAIRY?
Yep! This is one 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 of a lot of these things. This means they're best to be used by cooking or mixed into something, rather than thawing and eating it as-is.
- 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! This is one that actually thaws and remains the same texture.
- Sour Cream – This one changes consistency, so it's best to bake or cook with when thawed. It probably won't make the best topping for your tacos, but it would taste delicious in a casserole!
- Ricotta Cheese – Be mindful that this also changes consistency. However, there are so many ways to use ricotta cheese after it's thawed! Lasagna roll ups, anyone?
- Cream Cheese – This is one that can change consistency. But if you thaw it slow and steady in the fridge, you'll get the best result! Try to plan ahead when you want to use frozen cream cheese.
- Cheese, Sliced or Shredded – It's always great to have cheese on hand! While you can freeze a whole block of cheese, we wouldn't suggest doing that since it's hard to use once you thaw it. Slice or shred it before you freeze to make it more convenient 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 and add it to our smoothie packs for easy mornings!
- Milk – Yep, you read that right! We recommend freezing it in an ice cube tray if you'll just need a few tablespoons at a time to cook with. You can also freeze in 1-cup increments in a freezer baggie if you have recipes that call for that amount. You can even freeze it by the gallon! Just thaw it slowly and shake it up a lot while it's thawing.
- Heavy Cream – This lasts for a long time in the fridge, but you can also freeze it! Freeze it the same way you do milk.
Pro Tip: When freezing any liquid, leave room for expansion. You don't want 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 you can freeze both raw and cooked meat. We 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 raw meat from getting freezer burn. They're totally worth the investment! You can also pre-cook ground meat to make dinner go quicker and easier.
- Chicken – Freeze chicken as soon as you bring it home or cook it before you forget about it! You can freeze grilled and shredded chicken for easy meal prep.
- Rotisserie Chicken – We 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 – We usually buy it in bulk and then freeze it in smaller, meal-sized portions. Especially if we're talking pork chops!
- Fish/Seafood – This is another one that we prefer to vacuum seal when we need to freeze it. It really helps it to stay fresh!
- Lunch Meat – Buy it in bulk when it's on sale and then freeze in the individual packages. Just pull them out a day or two before you need them to thaw!
- Hot Dogs/Sausage – Once again, we buy these on sale and throw them in the freezer as-is. 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! Scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos, egg muffin cups, egg sandwiches, you name it. Thaw them overnight in the fridge and you can have some easy and protein-packed breakfasts in the morning!
Pro Tip: When freezing meat, meal-sized portions should be your default. You don't want 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, chili, you get the gist!
- Pizza – You could easily make your own pizza at home and freeze before baking. Then pull it out and put it straight into the oven to cook. A quick frozen pizza that's homemade? Sign us up!
- Sauces – Freeze in a mason jar (leave room at the top for expansion) or place in a freezer baggie. This works well for spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and so much more!
- Soups – Freeze your soups the same as sauces. Our 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. Mexican rice actually freezes really well and is an easy side to double and freeze half for a quick meal!
- Cooked Beans – This is a great one because beans can take a long time to cook, so it's nice to make a lot at once, and then freeze for later use. Refried beans taste delicious out of the freezer!
- Slow Cooker Dump Meals – Grab your favorite slow cooker and get to work! Just put together in a freezer bag so you can dump and go on busy mornings. You can never go wrong with a good slow cooker recipe!
- Hummus – Make sure you add a thin layer of olive oil on top to preserve the moisture before freezing in a freezer-safe container. Just leave a little bit of room for expansion and you're good to go!
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 already guessed that our answer is going to be yes, yet? Our 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 soften. And warm pastries are the best, right?
- Bread – You can freeze a whole loaf of bread, sliced bread, and even homemade garlic bread. Just be sure to wrap your bread really well in foil (for a whole loaf of bread) or in freezer bags. You can even make individual sandwiches and freeze them for lunches!
- Tortillas – Freeze in giant packs when they are on sale or when you make homemade tortillas! You can also 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. You can also freeze homemade muffins! Wrap each one individually in plastic wrap, then store in a freezer bag.
- 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 stock up on them for 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 – Yep! Throw your store-bought or homemade bread crumbs in the freezer and they'll stay fresher longer!
- Homemade Breakfast Foods – Pancakes, waffles, and french toast, along with any other make-ahead breakfast foods, are perfect 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, the less air in the bag, the less freezer burn your food will experience. Make sure that everything is airtight! Wrap well with 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 us, then you stock up on all of the holiday candy it goes on sale. Then you can snack on those specialty candies that aren't available in-store all year round. Cadbury Mini Eggs and Reese's Peanut Butter Trees, anyone?
- Candy Bars – Just throw the whole bag in the freezer!
- Chocolate – Freeze this according to how you'll need to use it later. A big block of baker's chocolate is best frozen in smaller portions since it's really hard to cut frozen chocolate!
- Cake – Make sure it has cooled completely! Wrap it in Glad Press'n'Seal to help keep any air out. Then wrap it in foil. Make sure 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. You can't go wrong with this bundt cake recipe if you want to give freezing a cake a try… We won't judge. 😉
- Cookies – After baking, allow them to cool completely. Flash freeze in a single layer, then store in a freezer baggie. Try out this delicious recipe the next time you have a hankering!
- Cupcakes – You basically follow 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 – Freeze directly in their bag! Once you open them, 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 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 you might not have known 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 – Leave them in their package and put into another freezer bag for an extra layer of protection.
- Flaxseeds – Freeze the same as the chia seeds above!
- Sunflower Seeds – Throw these babies in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible.
- Seeds for the Garden – Seriously! Just make sure your seeds are thoroughly dried before freezing or else they'll crack or split. Then you'll have seeds that are ready to go once it's planting time!
- Flour – Leave it in the original package, then put it 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. This 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 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 with the name, date, and prep instructions! It saves a big headache in the long run. You can also organize by date so you're 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! And crazy enough, we probably 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 us know in the comments!
Now that you know how to freeze your foods, make sure that you check out these other posts!
- Now that your freezer is stocked, go stock your pantry with our favorite pantry staples!
- Lean how to thaw all of the foods that you can now freeze!
- Make the most of the food you have and meal plan your dinners around what you've already got on hand!