Mom of Picky Eater

Here’s how I freeze foods

A while ago, my freezer looked like a disaster area.  It was thick with ice accumulation and stuffed with various plastic and aluminum foil wrapped balls and other oddly shaped and unmarked items.  I also seemed to keep alot of boxed, frozen veggies around. At some point, I realized that the freezer is really my underappreciated friend in the kitchen: it will not only help me save money by storing leftovers, but it will also assist me in getting through the harried dinner hour without so much panic.  As I am stressing out about what to serve my kids, meals I might have made a few days or weeks before and frozen can be a lifesaver-especially since I have a picky mouth to feed.

I am much more selective now about what I freeze and how.  Here are my favorite freezer items:

Soups, stoups and sauces:

Instead of putting the liquid in a plastic container, which takes up loads of room, I try to use plastic, zippered baggies to store these items.  You simply pour the liquid into a baggie when it has cooled and lay it flat in the freezer or shove it in any open nook or crannie you can find and it will freeze into that shape.  To defrost, you must let it thaw completely before you can pour it out and use. Whether you use the baggie way or not, these are key items to freeze.

Veggies and fruits:

I never would have thought to freeze veggies before as it seems so easy to buy them frozen.  There’s nothing wrong with buying frozen veggies and fruits, but if you have an excess of either, don’t let it go to waste.  For fruit, you can hold off until it’s about to go bad and then instead of tossing it, freeze it in plastic baggies.  So if you have bananas that are turning brown and you aren’t into making banana bread, then either wrap it up (remove the skin first) in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge, or slice it first and throw it in a container or a baggie.  You could add berries to the bananas and then you have the makings of a smoothie.

For veggies, here’s how Rachael says to freeze them:

“Package frozen veggies are fine, but your own homemade broccoli spears would have even better flavor and will be bigger than those in 10 ounce boxes. To freeze most any veggie, blanch 2 minutes in boiling salted water, drain and place into plastic food storage baggies. When you are ready to use, defrost, drain and cook as you like, from steaming to stir frying.”

Dairy:

I tried to freeze milk once that was in a glass bottle (I get my milk delivered from a farm in glass bottles).  Boy, was that ever a  mistake!  As the milk froze, it expanded and the bottle shattered.  Whoops.  While that was a bad idea, I have frozen paper cartons of milk or cream when nearing the expiration date.  I’ve noticed that when I have tried to use the dairy substance after it has been frozen, it might curdle a bit, but it isn’t spoiled.  I prefer not to freeze milk or cream, but you can if you are going to lose it.  I have accidentally frozen both yogurt and eggs and ruined them.  Butter, on the other hand, freezes very well.

Nuts and seeds:

You should always keep your peanuts, walnuts, any nuts or seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin, in the freezer.  If you leave them in the cupboard they can go rancid and if they are salted, you may not even know it.  There is really no defrosting time so they are ready to eat right from the freezer, just a bit cold.

Herbs:

I take all of my basil at the end of the summer and puree it in a blender with EVOO.  I then store this mixture in ice cub trays and use the cubes all year long in sauces and soups.  If I want to make a pesto, I’m halfway there.  I just defrost a few cubes, then add the toasted pignoli, grated garlic and cheese and whip it up.

For other herbs, Rachael suggests putting the fresh herb bundles into a plastic baggie with a little water to cover them and freeze them this way.  When you want to use them, you can pull them out and throw them directly into soups or let them defrost and chop them.  You could also chop them first and freeze them the same way I do the pesto-in ice cube trays, but I prefer to keep them whole so as much of the flavor and moisture stays in tact as possible.

Casseroles and Lasagnas

If you want to freeze a lasagna, it’s best to prepare it and freeze it before cooking it.  Then when you want to cook it, let it defrost a bit first so the glass dish doesn’t crack.  Even if your dish isn’t glass, it’s still a good idea to let it warm up first.  The same goes for casseroles.  It is generally better to freeze the dish before baking it.

Cookies and baked goods

You need to wrap cookies and baked goods like banana breads and cakes really well with a layer of parchment paper and then plastic wrap, aluminum foil or a plastic baggie for extra protection.  But otherwise, freezing already baked bakery items is genius.  I take a chocolate chip cookie out of the freezer one at a time and heat them up in the toaster oven.  It makes a batch go a long way! Just this morning I took a frozen loaf of banana bread out of the freezer and sliced it, while still frozen and warmed it up on the griddle. Delish!

Another important freezer lesson to remember, especially if you own an older model, is to defrost now and again.  You do not want to live with all of that icy build-up on the walls of the freezer that will harm the performance and take up unnecessary space.

What do you like to freeze?


13 Responses to “Here’s how I freeze foods”

  1. Lucy says:

    Great blog! I have for the first time planted an herb garden. It florished and there are more herbs than I can use as a single person. Besides the great tip you gave us for Basil – can you freeze other herbs such as Thyme, Sage or Rosemary? And if so, how can you do that?

    Thanks for your help.
    Lucy

  2. clitav says:

    I buy huge cans of tomato puree from the Cash-n-Snatch for a fraction of the cost of smaller cans then freeze in plastic bags laid flat! Works for other huge cans of goodies too, sauce, chili, etc…

  3. these are all great tips. especially to us new to making good meals taste GREAT. one additional tip from me is to reuse your plastic baggies, the Earth will appreciate it. i actually turn mine inside out to rinse, then i put on the top rack of my dishwasher. do they melt? not yet!

  4. Lisa Gable says:

    I have frozen herbs whole in canning jars with no liquid. Just put them loosely in the jar and place lid on the jar. Rosemary works great this way as well as sage and mint.

  5. Connie Jo says:

    another insite to plastic bags, I too turn mine inside out , then put them in the washer with towels
    have not had one melt then refold them back into the drawer they go

  6. lisette says:

    Hi. I find that when I put cookies in the freezer after I bake them, that people sneak down to the freezer and eat them! LOL. So, what I started doing was using my scooper to dole cookie dough out on a tray, and flash froze them for an hour or so. Then I put them in a freezer bag. This way no one is sneaking cookies and when we want to make a batch I can just grab as many as I need because they don’t stick together. I can even put a few in the toaster oven so we don’t gave to turn on the regular oven and heat the house up.

    I find that onions and peppers are fine if I don’t blanch them. I just cut them up, throw them in baggies and just defrost when needed. Sometimes if I am making something that will be cooking for a long time like chili or soup, I don’t even defrost them, just throw them right in.

  7. Michal says:

    Just a note on freezing lasagna/casseroles- line the pan with plastic wrap assemble freeze over night then remove the las/cass from the pan and place in a gallon zip. Also we freeze red sauce in muffin pans (silicone) pop them out and store in zip locks. DD just pops one in t microwave and they are perfect single serving size.

  8. Angela says:

    Great ideas! My tip to stave off those pesky freezer raids (eating all the cookies). Just label the goodies “Green Fish Paste” No one will even open the package/ baggy to check!!

  9. barbara says:

    Can someone tell me if the oil used for deep fried foods,( potatoes, donuts, etc.) can bw reused?

  10. Tanya says:

    Rach-
    I yield so much zucchini in my garden. I do have a great recipe I use. But what I do is shred 2 cups of zucchini in freezer bags of mark the bags but it would last me throughout the winter to make my zucchini cake recipe. My ER crew Love the recipe and it was the only way I could get my child to eat zucchini.

  11. Deborah says:

    when I chop bell peppers I cut off the top and if its strips or cubes i need I cut off the bottoms
    sometimes when i find bright colored ones on sale not only will i buy alot to use for dishes but allso to chop and freeze in a big zip lock bag
    they do not need to be blanched AT ALL
    then I always have chopped peppers to add to any soup or stew that might need something or chili or you name it,
    you can do onions the same way but i dont bother since there always on the cheap side
    while Ive seen crazy priced orange and yellow and red and even green bell peppers
    as far as herbs my italian nieghbor takes any leafy herb and stems them packs the leaves pushing it down as she goes in to a plastic container
    when she needs some parsley or basicl she heats a spoon under very hot water then dries it and scraps off what she needs and ADDS IT TO HER SAUCE SOUP WHATEVER
    it works great
    you can do this to cilantro too
    as long as its a supple leafy herb

    when I use herbs that I pick or buy fresh i add it stem and all then later I can fish it out in easier big pieces and then to the finished dish add chopped fresh herbs off the heat to rest a bit

  12. Deborah says:

    you can reuse oil if its not been burned or darkly colored from use and remeber what you cooked in it will flavor the oil Cool oil TOTALLY to room temp.
    strain through a filter or a piece of muslium cloth or thin clean cotton in a strainer over a bowl
    funnel into a VERY VERY clean glass jar lable the oil vegetable canola olive etc what you you cooked in it and the date Seal tightly in glass jar that your hopefully recycling PUT IN FRIDGE where YOULL SEE IT AND NOT FORGET IT in the FROUNT
    USE GLASS ONLY! Its
    best to use it quickly and with the same or compatable food ONE MORE TIME you might like to add some fresh oil to it
    then discard
    twice is tops of using it please even if you used some fresh oil
    or its going to burn and be funky and greasy

  13. Deborah says:

    when ever I make from scratch soups stews lasanga chili sloppy joes broth..any kind of dried beans i freeze half I often on purpose make extra and freeze in pint and quart containers and in flat containers for other things like stuffed cabbage or peppers i make an extra lasange in a smaller foil 8×10 pan
    eventually youll have a bank of your own pre made foods to choose from to quickly heat or bake or nuke up.
    why pay for frozen dinners or take out that taste like junk and dont look anything like the photos and full of god knows what
    then you can truly have it your way

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