One of my favorite wedding gifts was an unusual one. It was the upright freezer that my parents and siblings gave to us. I absolutely love our freezer! Having an extra freezer in the basement saves us so much money because it allows me to shop the sales and stockpile perishables.
Is meat on sale? I’ll buy 15 pounds. A great deal on cheese? I’ll buy 10 packages. Bake an extra loaf of bread? Go ahead and freeze it. Discover a mark-down on butter after the holidays? I’ll stock-up as much as my budget allows.
I find that my freezer saves me a great deal of money by shopping the sales and freezing great deals for later use. It allows me to make the most of seasonal sale cycles, too. Not only that, but my freezer also saves me time when I double recipes to “bake once and eat twice.”
Also, it should be noted that while there are guidelines for the quality of freezer food, frozen foods remain safe indefinitely. You can read more on this topic at Food Safety here.
Through trial and error as well as some food research, I’ve discovered that it possible to freeze many things. Here is a list of things that I regularly freeze, as well as some tips and tricks to help you save time and money by utilizing your freezer. There’s a lot of information and links here but I hope this helps you think about all the different things you can freeze to save yourself time and money!
1. Cheese. Grated cheese freezes best. Blocks will crumble after frozen so I grate blocks first (or buy already shredded cheese) for the freezer.
2. Milk. Pour a 1/4 cup out of each container before freezing to allow for expansion. I buy half gallons of milk on sale and freeze them to make yogurt in my slow cooker. Kalyn at Creative Savings suggests freezing milk in muffin tin increments for smoothies and baking. That’s a clever idea, too!
3. Butter. When it’s on sale around Thanksgiving and Christmas, buy extra butter at the low prices and store it in the freezer for later.
4. Cream cheese. With such a long shelf life, I normally store mine in the fridge but it can be frozen.
5. Sour cream. It may separate when thawed but if you’re using it for baking, it will be just fine.
6. Leftovers. If you aren’t going to eat all of your meal, rather than let it go to waste in the fridge, freeze it for a later time. Consider starting a miscellaneous container to freeze even the tiniest bits of leftover vegetables or meats, to turn into homemade soup at a later date.
7. Chocolate chips. Yes, chocolate has a long shelf life but I find chocolate stay fresher in the freezer. This also applies to clearance chocolate that I buy after the holidays. Chocoholic that I am, I always have chocolate chips in my freezer! Here are 31 of my favorite chocolate recipes…and you can freeze almost every single one of them!
8. Baked goods. I bake a lot and regularly store cookies, bars, pies and coffee cakes in my freezer. It is very convenient to pull out a quick dessert for surprise company. Here are 5 of my favorite desserts to freeze.
9. Cookies and cookie dough. Again, if you bake cookies, bake a double batch and store some in the freezer. You can also make your own cookie dough and scoop it into balls for the freezer. Then, when you are ready to bake cookies, pull out as many scoops of cookie dough as you wish for quick, fresh cookies.
10. Bread. You can freeze homemade bread or store bought bread. I also bake and freeze rolls in double batches for the freezer. This is the homemade bread recipe that I make (only $0.50 a loaf), as well as my recipe for homemade crescent rolls, both of which freeze wonderfully. Tortillas, pita bread and buns all freeze nicely, too.
11. Freezer meals. Obviously, you can freeze complete meals to eat at a later date. If you’re looking for freezer meal ideas, check out some of my favorite freezer meals here.
12. Diced onions and peppers. When onions are on sale or your garden produces an abundance of peppers, wash and dice them. For onions, I like to package them in onion bundles so I have onion that is already diced when I’m cooking. This trick saves me a lot of tears! For peppers, I dice and flash freeze them before storing them in quart bags in the freezer.
13. Caramelized onions. I started making caramelized onions in my slow cooker last year. What a brilliant discovery! I make a slow cooker full at one time and freeze the onions in smaller foil packages that make them quick to defrost for delicious burger toppings or on grilled cheese.
14. Meat. Buying meat on sale and freezing it for later is one of the absolutely best ways to use your freezer to save money. You can freeze your meat in large packages or repackage it into smaller portions. You can freeze meat raw or cooked. The options are endless! I like to freeze raw hamburger in one-pound foil packages. I also cook hamburger and freeze it in one pound bags to quickly add to spaghetti sauce, chili, tacos, nachos or any other meal with hamburger that I want to assemble quickly.
15. Pre-cooked and shredded chicken. This is a great way to save money and time. Cook and shred your chicken ahead of time (I like to use my slow cooker to cook it) so you can quickly assemble a delicious dinner of poppy-seed chicken or any recipe that requires chicken. It’s a game-changer for dinner!
16. Eggs without shells. I don’t do this one regularly but you can! Simply crack your eggs into a bag and add a pinch of salt to help the yolks maintain their shape. I would do two eggs to a bag and label them so you remember how many eggs are in each bag. If you have an abundance of eggs and are worried about using them before they go bad, freeze some for future baking.
17. Pasta. Yes, pasta cooks quickly but you can freeze cooked pasta if you have extra. You can freeze cooked noodles by themselves or already covered with sauce. If you have little ones who like pasta, this is a time saver for quick babysitter meals!
18. Tomato sauce. Anything tomato based (tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, etc) freezes well. If you make your own spaghetti sauce, freeze it in 2 cup ziploc bag portions so you always have pasta sauce at the ready.
19. Smoothie ingredients. If your family likes smoothies, buy fresh fruit when it’s on sale and freeze for smoothies. You can even go one step further and make individual smoothie bags with various fruit, including frozen cubes of yogurt or juice, so that you can make a smoothie in seconds. This saves you time and money!
20. Apple pie kits. This is one of my favorite things to freeze and save money. Here’s how I do it. When apples go on sale in the fall, I make at least a dozen apple pie kits so I can frugally make up an apple pie in minutes – anytime my husband requests one. It saves us money and results in a delicious dessert. Win-win!
There are plenty of other things you can freeze to save money and time. What do you always keep in your freezer?