Thursday, August 28, 2008

Taking Full Advantage of My Freezer

I've always tried to use my freezer as much as possible. I use it for already frozen items (obviously), extra meals and soups that I make specifically for the freezer, and to extend the shelf life of meats and breads. However, I recently began using it to extend other things as well.

It hit me one day as I was throwing away some strawberries that had gotten moldy in the 24 hours since I had brought them home from the store. I think I actually slapped myself on the forehead with overly dramatic zeal. I can use my freezer to extend the shelf life of everything, even if I only need to do so for a few days! Why, oh why, didn't this occur to me sooner? Here are some things I've been experimenting with:

  • Fresh produce. If it tends to go bad quickly, ie. fresh berries, I wash, dry and freeze a portion in individual servings. These frozen berries get used in smoothies within the next few days and the fresh ones get eaten right away. I also watch the rest of my produce. If a green pepper is starting to get yellow, I'll dice it up and throw it in the freezer. If the green beans are getting droopy, I'll boil them for a few minutes and freeze them.
  • Muffins. We have been eating a lot of muffins lately. Instead of eating them all in one day (which is what tends to happen throughout the day when we have extras), or eating the leftovers the next morning, I have been freezing half the batch to save for another day.
  • Desserts. When we have a whole dish of brownies or cookie bars sitting on the counter, they will get eaten. But we really don't need a whole tray of brownies in 2 days. So I got off a few and stick them in the freezer. This also comes in handy on those nights when we really want something sweet and I haven't gotten around to making something new.
  • Cheese. We love cheese in this house. I think we could easily go through a pound a day. Let me be the first to tell you, nobody needs that much cheese! But if it's available, we eat it. So I shred some and stick it in the freezer. That way I have it when I need it for a recipe instead of all of it just magically disappearing. I NEED to remember to do this all the time.
  • Baked goods. I freeze bread, bagels, English muffins...pretty much whatever I find on manager's clearance in the bakery aisle of the grocery store. While we all prefer to have that stuff homemade, I like to have options on hand for those mornings when everyone sleeps in and all of the homemade stuff is gone.
  • Bacon. We also love bacon in this house. There have been times lately when I've only needed a few slices for a recipe. Instead of making and eating the rest right away, I stick it in the freezer.
  • Leftovers. Whenever we have some leftovers that I know we will not get to in a few days, I toss those in the freezer too. This happens a lot with breakfast foods, especially pancakes and french toast.
You can find more Frugal Friday at Crystal's blog.

8 comments:,  1:29 AM  

Thanks for the ideas. I need to start saving more food instead of wasting it, especially the fruit and vegetables. I let them go to waste sometimes and there is no reason why I should do that when it is so easy to pop them in the freezer.

Michele 2:17 AM  

What a great idea to toss the aging produce in the freezer. Thanks! :)

Sherry 7:34 AM  

I definitely need to take advantage of my freezer more, too. I hate throwing things out. I have started doing fruits and last night I bagged up some chicken broth from a chicken that I had boiled along with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and garlic powder. Thanks for the reminder!

Brooke 9:02 AM  

bread and meat are my two freezer favorites. tonight we're having noodles and alfredo for dinner tonight at the new house. we have no appliances yet, but i'm going to throw the pre-made sauce and noodles into the electric skillet to warm it up. almost as easy as making a sandwich.

Mom2fur 11:01 AM  

We bought a little freezer last year, and it's hands-down the best frugal investment we've ever made. At least as far as household items, LOL! I've learned to pack away those last 2 hot dog or hamburger rolls. Sometimes, I'll divide a package in half and freeze half, because I know we won't use it all right away. But I never thought of freezing some of the fruits we buy. Except blueberries. They are so rare and so expensive most of the year that I always fill up a big bag to use throughout the winter. I never thought of putting fruit away to use for smoothies later, though. What a great idea! I think I'll just have to start a'smoothies' container, LOL!

Anonymous,  11:02 AM  

Gotta love that freezer! I think most cakes taste BETTER after having been frozen. I can make do without a lot of things, but I'd be lost without my freezer... Great ideas!

Audra Krell 3:34 PM  

I love your idea of freezing the strawberries, it will be perfect for our weekend smoothies!

Sonshine 9:36 PM  

I do this for muffins and baked goods all the time! Now I just need to get in the habit of doing it with my fresh produce or with leftovers.

Just today, I ended up tossing some meat that I had cooked before we left on our vacation! UGH! I have been kicking myself all day that I should have put in the freezer before we left so that I didn't waste it!

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