Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Freezer is your Friend

Do you know how many different items you can freeze to keep from going bad, or just to save you some much needed time when it comes to food prep?

I didn't either until I got sick of throwing onions and celery away because they were going bad!

No more!

Just in case you weren't aware, I wanted to compile a list of ingredients that I've found to freeze well.

NOTE:  I don't use the thawed items to eat raw as usually the texture does change a little bit.  But if you're needing these ingredients for a stir fry, soup, casserole, or other cooked/baked dish, then freeze away, my cooking friends. and save in the process!

  • Mushrooms. Slice, bag and label.
  • Onions.  Slice or mince a bunch at once and put into one cup baggies.
  • Bell peppers.  Wash, slice, and let freeze on a baking sheet.  Once frozen, bag and label.
  • Celery.  Wash, slice and let freeze on a baking sheet.  Once frozen, divide into 1 cup portions in labeled bags.
  • Pureed squash, zucchini, pumpkin, sweet potato.  Divide into 1 1/2 cup portions, bag and label.
  • Spinach.  If you think your spinach is on its last leg, toss it (bag an all) in the freezer.  Just take a handful out to put into smoothies when you need!
  • Homemade beans.  Divide into 1 1/2 cup portions (a cans worth), bag and label.
  • Cut, cooked corn.  Let cool, divide into bags.  You can eat these as a side just fine.
  • Tomato paste.  Divide left over paste into 1 TBLS clumps on a baking sheet and then pop off and put the in a labeled bag.
  • Tomato or vegetable juice.  I have a recipe that calls for 2/3 cup vegetable juice and it's my only recipe that requires it, so I put mine in 2/3 cup portions in a bag and let it freeze in a little pyrex dish.  Once frozen, I take them out and stack them in a larger bag.
  • Spaghetti sauce.  Freeze in an old jar (just don't fill to the top) and label.  Or freeze in a bag laid flat on a baking sheet.
  • Hummus.  You can freeze dollops or whole cup worths in bags for later use.  Maybe not as great for dipping, but just fine for pitas or sandwiches.
  • Oatmeal.  Freeze in microwave safe container, or in a bag that's frozen in an old little yogurt container.  Pop them all into a gallon sized freezer bag and take out 2 for a breakfast.
  • Grapes.  Wash, let dry, and bag.  A wonderful little sweet treat!
  • Most berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, etc) and pineapple.  Wash, cut, and bag.
  • Bananas.  Freeze them in the skin or peel and leave plain.  You can also mash or just slice and bag like that.  Freeze them "just ripe" or "over ripe" depending on what you're planning to make. 

Other things to freeze:  apple sauce, orange juice, salsa, carrots, (any type of vegetable you'd find in the frozen section of the market can be frozen!), leftover lasagna, soups, rice, pizza crust, breads

Just remember to label everything you freeze!  There are guides on line for how long things should last in your freezer.  I don't have a huge freezer, so mine gets "gone through" pretty quickly, but a deep freezer would be harder for me to go through everything.

Item to Freeze:
Use after thawing:
In peel, cut in chunks, or unpeeled whole or mashed
In baked goods, smoothies, oatmeal
Bell Peppers
Washed, sliced or diced. Initially freeze on cookie sheet, then transfer to bag.
In soups, stiryfrys, casseroles
Washed and dried
In smoothies, on cereal/oatmeal
In a double bag (muffins and pancakes)
As you would normally
Steam for a side.  In a baked dish or stirfry.
Sliced and initially frozen on a cookie sheet, then transfer to bag/box.
In soups, stiryfrys, casseroles
Corn, cooked and cut
(Almost any veggie)
In a bag
Steam as a side.  In a baked dish or stirfry.
Washed and dried.  In a gab.
Eat frozen as a sweet treat.
Chopped. Place 1 tsp or 1 TBLS amounts in ice cube trays with a little water.
Throw into soups/stews/stirfrys
Homemade Beans
In 1 ½ cup measurements (1 can equiv)
Use as you would normally
In dollops on cookies sheet and then transfer or in container
On tortillas, as a dip
Wrap in plastic and then tinfoil.
Unwrap, thaw, reheat and enjoy!
Mango and Peaches
Chop or puree
In baked desserts or in salsa
Chopped and bagged
In soups, stiryfrys, casseroles
Let cool and freeze in single portions
Reheat and enjoy
Sliced, chopped, diced
Sauté as you would, or put in soup or casserole
Orange Juice
Freeze in ½ cup or 1 cup portions or in ice cube trays
As you would normally for soups or main dishes
Orange Juice Concentrate
Buy it, open it, put plastic wrap with the top back on.  Scoop when needed.
1 TBLS combined with ¼ water to make Orange Juice
Pasta or Rice
Freeze after cooked and cooled in single portions
As you would normally
Pizza Dough or Crust
Freeze in plastic wrap and then in a freezer bag
Thaw in fridge overnight and then on the counter a few hours
Pureed Veggies
In 1 ½ cup measurements in bags
In baked goods, sauces, casseroles
In a container
As you would normally
Make multiple sandwiches, wrap in plastic and take out when needed**
As you would normally
Slice thin and put in a plastic container or bottle
Shake out and use as you would normally would: top salads/stirfry
Freeze in 2 or 4 servings
As you would normally
Spaghetti Sauce
Freeze in 2 or 4 servings
As you would normally
When it’s at the end, throw the whole bag in the freezer
In smoothies
Slice and bag
In soups, stiryfrys, casseroles
Tomato or Vegetable Juice
Freeze in ½ cup or 1 cup portions or in ice cube trays
As you would normally
Tomato Paste
Freeze in 1 TBLS dollops on cookie sheet and transfer to a bag
As you would normally

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