Wednesday, June 6, 2012
What Grocery Store Items Do I Freeze?
I've done a post on this before and I note it pretty regularly in grocery show off posts. But to do a little review, here is a list of items I will buy extra of and pop in my freezer for later use if I can find them on super sale.
* Fresh Meats. All meats. Pork, chicken and fish. And beef too if I could eat it. But I can't, so I don't. I freeze lunch meats too. I am picky about how long lunch meats linger in the fridge. So I either buy them in the individual packs or I separate the pound into four mini packs. And then I freeze what I won't use in the next three days.
* Cooked meats. Y'all know I am big on this. I will buy several of those rotisserie chickens when they are on a big sale. Or cook a giant turkey for two people because I want the leftovers. I pick all the meat and then divvy up into portion size zip top baggies. I just defrost over night in the fridge. Use a million ways!
* Dairy. Milk is fine to freeze- just be sure to pour 1/2 cup out of the jug before freezing to allow for expansion. Defrost for 24 hrs in the fridge and shake if needed.
* Cheese. Oh gosh, I freeze all cheeses. I will say that defrosted cream cheese is best used in baking. The flavor is unchanged but the texture is off if you are looking to use it on a bagel. I've never had any issues with other types of cheese though. Block cheese, shredded cheese, soft cheese such as feta, and hard cheese such as a wedge of parm. All freeze great.
* Eggs. Yes...I said eggs. NOT in their shell though. You can do this a few ways. I will either save whites, if I am baking something using only yolks, in a small zip top baggie. And be sure to write on the outside how many egg whites are inside as you will not remember two days from now. Or if I come across a crazy egg sale and buy eight dozen, I will crack a dozen and whisk them into a scramble. Then pour the dozen into an ice cube tray with a dozen cube spaces. Once frozen (takes longer than water), break them into cubes and dump into a zip top baggie. Now you have stocked up on eggs and are ready in a jiffy to use them. BUT...eggs have a really long shelf life so I use freezing them as a last resort.
* Juice and Tea. I don't typically buy the cartons of fancy lemonade or iced tea. But once in a while, I can get a smokin' deal on them with coupons. So I will buy several, pour a little out of each carton, put the top back on and freeze them just as I do with milk. If I find orange juice on sale, I do the same thing.
* Coffee. I freeze whole beans, grounds and if I make a big pot and have extra, I pour that into an ice cube tray. Once frozen, I pop the cubes into a zip top baggie. Then when I want iced coffee, I use the coffee cubes instead of ice cubes. I know...I'm brilliant. It's the little things in life, right?
* Whipped cream. If you thought the coffee tip was hot, listen to this one. If you make a pie and fresh vanilla bean whipped cream (or whatever), don't throw out the last of the whipped cream. I tossed it into a zip top baggie and made little swirly puffs on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Then stuck the cookie sheet in the freezer. Once frozen...you guessed it...zip top baggie. I don't use these frozen cream puffs on say berries. But they are fantastic in hot cocoa. A big treat mid winter.
* Butter. Because butter (and bacon) makes it better!
* Rice. If I've said it once, I've said it 100 times. Make a giant batch of rice and freeze portions. This is a HUGE time saver. And a HUGE budget saver. It takes away the temptation to buy the expensive and barely healthy minute rice packages. Those are a gazillion times the price (or you know...close to that number) of a bag of healthy, nutty brown rice. I cook 2-3 bags at a time. Its not like it takes extra effort. Once cooked and you use that night's portion and the rest has cooled, portion the rice into zip top bags that fit the needs of your family. Or even into those snack size bags for kiddos who need an afternoon snack. Rice can enjoyed the same way one eats oatmeal, by the way.
* Yogurt. Now this is a your mileage may vary category. I've had better luck with yogurts such as Greek yogurt. Or those with some fat vs no fat. But it's similar to the cream cheese in that even those with no fat can be frozen. I would just use them in a recipe or smoothie due to texture issues.
* Bread. Do you ever pass by the bread outlet stores? Go in next time! I pick up as many loaves as I can at one time and just freeze them until needed. Usually at 1/3 or less of the price in the grocery store.
* Berries. I go to pick berries every year during peak season. So much fun! But fresh off the bushes and middle of August, they are subject to go bad in just days. So I wash (depending on the fruit) and lay them out individually on baking sheets. Pop them in the freezer. Once frozen, then gently pour the berries into zip top baggies. I don't personally waste these berries on smoothies. I just eat them frozen, like candy for desert. But that's just me.
* Of course I freeze all sorts of prepared foods too but I just wanted to note today all of the items (and I may be forgetting a few) that you can freeze when you find them on sale. Seriously...a second freezer saves me as much or more than using coupons!
* And did you notice the running theme here? Zip top baggies. They take up sooo much less space than containers. I know, bad for the environment. And I will often wash and re-use them when possible. But I think the space saved is worth it to use the baggies vs. containers with lids.