Guest Blog contributed by Beth Moncel of Budget Bytes.
Freezers have increasingly become dedicated storage space for ice cream, frozen pizzas, and other convenience foods, but they can actually be one of the most useful tools for saving money in the kitchen. Not only is your freezer good for saving leftovers of cooked meals, but its fantastic for storing individual leftover ingredients that usually end up in the trash. Not sure which food items you can and can’t freeze? Here are five freezer friendly items that changed the game by helping me reduce waste and save money in the kitchen.
If you live alone you probably know how hard it is to go through a loaf of bread before it goes stale. Luckily, bread is one of the easiest items to freeze. Place the whole, pre-sliced loaf in the freezer and simply take out one or two slices as needed. Because bread isn’t very dense, it thaws at room temperature quickly, or can be popped straight into a toaster.
Cheese makes everything better, but unfortunately it can also be quite pricey. Buying in larger quantities can sometimes fetch a lower price per pound, but then you’re tasked with trying to use large quantities of cheese before it becomes moldy, unless you use your freezer. Shredded and chunk cheese both freeze well. The texture may become slightly more crumbly after thawing, so don’t freeze cheese intended for slicing. Make sure to wrap the cheese tightly in plastic to avoid freezer burn and you’ll always have a little cheese on hand to top off your favorite dish.
If you love to bake but hate having an entire batch of muffins, scones, or cookies staring you down and waiting to be devoured, try freezing the leftovers. Not only will the baked goods be out of sight and out of mind helping you avoid over eating, but you can have homemade treats ready on the fly whenever company happens to stop by. Thaw the baked goods at room temperature or give them a quick 30 seconds in the microwave for a warm, comforting treat.
Buttermilk has a unique flavor that makes pancakes, biscuits, and salad dressing extra rich and delicious, but most recipes only call for a small quantity. Instead of letting the rest of the quart go to waste, pour the buttermilk into an ice cube tray to freeze. Once frozen solid, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag for long term storage. Remove two, three, or four cubes at a time to add to your favorite recipe.
Cooked Rice and Pasta
It’s easy to accidentally cook too much rice or pasta, but the extras don’t have to go in the garbage. Freezing cooked rice and pasta not only reduces waste, but it makes your next meal fast and easy. Having precooked frozen rice or pasta in the freezer is a life saver on busy weeknights. With just a few minutes in the microwave they’re ready to top with sauce, vegetables, or your favorite meat. Add a quick sprinkle of water or a drizzle of sauce to keep the pasta or rice from drying in the microwave while heating.
This is just a handful of items that the freezer can save from the garbage. Before tossing your leftovers, experiment with freezing them. Although not everything fares well through the freeze thaw cycle you’ll likely discover that many more items can hold up to cold temperatures than expected.
About the Author:
For the past five years, Beth Moncel has been dishing out healthy, inexpensive recipes and teaching kitchen basics through her popular blog, Budget Bytes and the corresponding cookbook, Budget Bytes - Over 100 Easy Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half. She loves getting creative in the kitchen and hopes to show others just how fun and rewarding cooking can be.