- From baker’s yeast to nuts, plenty of ingredients for busy home cooks are better stored in your freezer.
- Doing some simple meal prep and then freezing it when you have time will make your life easier when you’re too busy to think straight.
- Fresh-baked cookies can be just an oven preheat time away from your mouth if you always have a batch of dough in your freezer.
- If you love bacon, you should absolutely stock up the next time your favourite kind is on sale and keep it frozen until you’re ready to eat it.
Whether you’re only cooking for yourself or feeding a family of 10, you may not fully realise just how useful your freezer can be. Storing more food in your freezer is helpful if you want to save yourself time, money, and effort.
Plus, food waste is a growing concern around the world and making better use of what you have you can help cut down on how much food you’re throwing out.
These are the foods that keep best when frozen.
Freeze your favourite cookie dough, muffin batter, and pie crusts for easy, fresh-baked treats any time.
Do you love baking but sometimes have a time crunch? Dough typically stays well in the freezer so the next time you’re whipping up a batch of cookies, pop some extra dough in the freezer. That way when you are having a craving you can grab the dough and have freshly baked desserts in less time.
A few tips for some specific treats:
- If it’s a sugar cookie recipe, simply shape it into a log in some plastic wrap, then tuck it inside a zip-top freezer bag.
- If it’s drop cookies, you can pre-portion them for future ease of use by partially freezing the portions on a cookie sheet and then dropping them into a zip-top freezer bag.
- Pat each ball of pie crust dough into a flat, round disc inside of a zip-top freezer bag. They will be easy to roll out with a rolling pin when you’re ready to use them – just keep your crust inside the bag and roll it out there, then slice the sides and flip out into your pie pan for less mess and total ease of rolling.
Butter prices fluctuate — so if you spot a good price and you bake or cook with it a lot, stock up and throw the extra in the freezer.
This one is easy – just grab those pounds of butter and stack them up in your freezer, to be taken out and defrosted in your fridge as needed.
If you like to use compound butter in your cooking or for parties, you can make a batch, portion it out on a cookie sheet or in an ice cube tray, and then put it in the freezer. If you do it in an ice cube tray, pop the cubes out after they have frozen and stick them in a big zip-top bag for easy compound butter portions any time.
Individual portions of soup can be your gift to cold and flu season — or just a quick meal when you don’t feel like cooking.
Because soup is liquid, throwing it in the freezer and then heating it up in microwaving or stovetop is a very easy way to get a meal. Even better, portion it out into separate containers so that you can grab one serving whenever you are in the mood.
Use freezer-safe containers and allow a little space for the natural expansion and contraction processes that occur when liquids freeze and thaw.
You can also use zip-top freezer bags for this – Serious Eats recommends this method for soups because you can flatten your portions out on a sheet pan and save a lot of space in your freezer. This method also works well for chilli and stews.
Turn those fresh veggies you meant to eat this week into prep for meals whenever.
We all know that we should be eating more vegetables – which is why you guilt yourself into buying some and then promptly stress about using them up before they liquefy.
The solution is simple: Cut up any veggies you know you won’t use in time and file them in zip-top freezer bags inside your freezer.
This won’t work for some things that are usually served raw, like lettuces, but for veggies you can use in cooked foods, it’s easy to avoid unwanted food waste with just a little chopping. Sweet corn-on-the-cob also freezes well – and you can even grill it from frozen and have a taste of summer year-round.
If you have some go-to recipes that require specific veggie blends, you can also save your future self-time by putting those pre-measured blends together in your bags.
Fill an ice cube tray with your favourite fresh herbs, already chopped.
Ice cube trays aren’t just for ice; they have uniform cavities, so you can easily chop up herbs or garlic, carefully add water or olive oil, and then freeze them. Pop the flavorful cubes out into a freezer bag, label, and date for ease of use.
There’s no such thing as too much bread if you have space in the freezer.
Freezing bread is particularly handy if your favourites don’t have a lot of stabilizers to make them stay fresh on shelves longer. Most bakery bread or bread things you make at home won’t last as long as store-bought bread.
If your household consists of only one or two people, it’s tough to eat a whole loaf of bread quickly – so just freeze half of it. This also works for bagels, pancakes, waffles, cornbread, pitas, and a whole host of baked, carb-filled goodness. Be sure to wrap the bread tightly to prevent freezer burn.
If you cook or bake with cheese, you can successfully freeze it for later use.
Cheese lovers, rejoice –cheddar freezes beautifully in both block and shredded form, according to shelf life guide Still Tasty. Other cheeses can be frozen as well. Generally speaking, the firmer a cheese’s texture, the better results you’ll have.
When you defrost it, the cheese might be crumblier than it was before, so it probably isn’t ideal for use in cheese plates.
Freezing seeds, nuts, whole grains, and flours can make them last longer.
All these things contain oils that can go rancid over time and will do so much more quickly at room temperature. If you won’t be using these items quickly, wrap them tightly and stow them in your freezer for later use.
Still Tasty has a handy guide to how long different types of nuts will keep in the freezer, and Brit + Co adds that freezing hemp, chia, and flax seeds can make them last for around six months past any expiration date on their packaging.
Whole-grain flours face the same problem as nuts and seeds – higher fat content equals a greater chance of going rancid. Store your whole grain and nut flours in the freezer unless you’ll use them quickly, but the good news is, you don’t have to defrost them before use, and should be able to simply scoop from the freezer.
Baker’s yeast will stay potent for much longer if you keep it in the freezer.
Baker’s yeast is made up of living organisms that digest sugars in your bread dough and then give off carbon dioxide that forms all the lovely bubbles that make your bread rise. With traditional gluten-containing bread recipes, the long gluten strands capture those bubbles and work to create the structure of the finished loaf.
In gluten-free bread recipes, a structure involving the power of yeast is usually created by some other means – typically using things like xanthan gum, psyllium husk powder, eggs, or some combination of the above.
Putting yeast in the freezer slows it down rather than allowing it to live its life cycle and die before you can use it all.
Keeping bacon in the freezer is a professional kitchen trick that can work in any kitchen, big or small.
This is yet another case where you shouldn’t be afraid to stock up on your favourite bacon if you see a great deal because you can always wrap it up and stick it in your freezer as long as there’s room.
Wrap it tightly and peel off the strips that you want to use and put them in your refrigerator to defrost before cooking. For less mess, cook them on a sheet pan in your oven instead of on the stove top. This also works well if you’re planning to cook a large amount of bacon.
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