One of the things my husband and I decided to invest in early on in our marriage was a deep freezer. We really value having a good store of food in the house (and, in this case, the garage!) and now that we have kids that value has become even more important to us. No, we’re not exactly “preppers” but we do have a stockpile of food just in case! Our freezer is used more for housing extra items we use regularly that we buy in bulk when they are on sale and freeze for later. At first I was really surprised when I found out you could freeze some of these items, but man am I glad you can!!
Not only is this list good for when you buy perishable items in bulk or on sale, but it can also help if you decide to make lots of baked goods and other foods at once and freeze the extras for later. This is really helpful in our family when my husband makes a ton of mini muffins and we freeze the extras – they thaw out quickly and taste just as delicious and we only have to do the work once!
The freezer also is a big help for us when we make a few freezer meals for later. Now, we don’t do big batch freezer cooking (except for chili) but we do often make an extra pan of whatever we are having for dinner and freezing that for later. I mean, you are already doing the work and have the ingredients out, so why not make two and have one for later? One less meal you have to think about!
Here is a list of things that we regularly freeze for later:
1. Cheese. I was SO surprised when I found out you could freeze cheese!! Now we buy lots of it when it goes buy one get one free at Publix and freeze the extras. We get it out and put it in the fridge when our last package runs out, but we have even found that you can use it frozen in things like chili! use shredded or grated cheese for this, so if you buy blocks go ahead and grate it before putting it in the freezer.
2. Baked Goods. We like homemade bread around here and we often will freeze a loaf or two for later. This also works for store bought bread although sometimes the packaging isn’t the best if you plan on freezing it for long. Like I mentioned above, we love to make mini muffins and put them in freezer bags – we put just as much as we usually eat in a bag and leave one in the regular freezer and put the rest in the deep freezer. You can also do this with tortillas, rolls, bars, cakes, etc.
3. Fruit. Wow, do we go through a lot of fruit in our house!! While we often buy fruit that’s already frozen, we also buy fruit when it is on clearance or in season (pick your own!) and freeze it. Super easy – just lay the fruit out on a sheet pan to freeze, then transfer to a freezer bag. Done!
4. Meat. We like to buy grass-fed beef and when we do it is already frozen, but we can’t always afford it. The next best thing is to pick up the best quality meat when it’s on sale or clearance. I love to freeze ground beef (somehow I always forget to use it when it’s in the refrigerator!) and chicken when it’s on sale. You can also freeze cooked meats. My husband really likes to smoke Boston Butt so when he does he makes a huge amount and we freeze the amount our family eats in freezer bags for later. Just throw them in a cast iron pan with a bit of butter and it’s a meal ready to go! We also always keep
5. Butter. Butter is another thing we go through a LOT of in our house so it makes sense to stock up when it’s on sale and freeze it! Butter here goes for over $3.50 a pound for store brands, but around the holidays it can be as low as $1.99 so we stock up. Obviously that doesn’t last the whole year but we keep our eyes out for good sales and stock up again when we get low. You can also buy it at Sam’s or Costco and freeze it. We’ve never noticed any difference in taste or quality after thawing.
6. Vegetables. We also go through a ton of frozen vegetables. You can buy cheap bags at places like Kroger (it usually takes 2 of their dollar bags to feed our family a side) or you can freeze produce you have before it goes bad.
7. Eggs. We have chickens so during the warmer months we end up with a lot of extra eggs. You can freeze whole eggs out of the shell, just crack them and place in a freezer bag. Be sure to label how many eggs are in each bag just in case! You can also freeze eggs after cooking for some quick breakfasts!
8. Homemade Pizza Crust. This is way cheaper than buying store bought, so make up a large batch and freeze at once. When you get to the point where you would bake it, just put it in the refrigerator for a few house to slow the yeast, wrap well and freeze. We like to go ahead and flatten it out so we just defrost, top and bake.
9. Whole Pies. While you can freeze just the dough, we like to freeze whole pies. Make the pies then freeze them uncooked. When it’s time to bake, take it from the freezer to the oven and cook for 1 1/2 times the recommended time. This is great when you have unexpected company – just pull out a pie, put it in the oven and you have a wonderful homemade dessert while you catch up with your guest. Another option is to prebake the pie shell and freeze so you can add the filling fresh later.
10. Herbs. We grow a garden every year and often some of it goes to waste. I’m really trying to use as much as we can and that includes the herbs we grow. We often have a ton of basil, oregano, rosemary and cilantro that we don’t use. They freeze really well! The easiest way to do this is in ice cube trays with a little water. When they are frozen, pop them out and store in a freezer bag.
11. Milk, Cream Cheese, and Sour Cream. While these may lose a little of their quality after thawing, they are great for baking. We use sour cream in a lot of our baked goods such as banana bread. Having some frozen milk on hand is great if your recipe calls for it and you have run out. Cream cheese is good to have for sauces (we love alfredo!).
12. Nuts. Natural oils in nuts can go bad so it makes sense to store them in the freezer. It preserves the goodness in the food and helps it to last longer.
13. Broth. We like to make frugal, mineral-rich bone broth in our house. You can really stretch the value you get out of a chicken by doing this and using the meat in several other recipes. Plus the nutrition of this can’t be beat and it’s so easy to make a filling soup with this as a base. We freeze it in 2 cup portions in a freezer bag.
14. Cookies and Cookie Dough. If you like to eat cookie dough, find an egg-free recipe, make up a double batch and freeze it! We used to freeze the rolls of cookie dough when I was a kid and I’d eat it frozen (although I wouldn’t do that now because of the real risk of salmonella!) You can also freeze cookies after they are baked, thaw and reheat. Yum!
15. Yogurt. My kids love it when I freeze tubes of yogurt. They eat it frozen! I buy the tubes because it’s easier to feed the kids – just cut off the top and give it to them. As the yogurt melts it gets easier for them to push up the yogurt just like a pop ice bar. This is healthier and they love it. I’ve never tried defrosting it because it’s so delicious frozen!
16. Bacon. Now, I know this could technically go in the meat category above, but I think it deserves a stand alone entry because at our house we have bacon in the freezer at all times. Since we do have chickens that lay a bunch of eggs, we have bacon and eggs about once a week. The best thing about frozen bacon is that we don’t even have to defrost it first. We just open, peel it carefully apart and place it on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place it in a cold oven, turn to 325 and bake until it is done to your liking (for my husband and sons that is about 25 minutes, it’s longer if you’re like me and like it crispy).
17. Lasagna. This is one of those dishes that is great for a quick freezer meal. Make two or three pans at once, cook one for dinner, and save the rest in the freezer. We buy disposable pans for this, too, so that we can easily freeze it and throw the pan away. If you want a more budget-friendly option, I’ve read of people who line the pan with parchment or plastic wrap, freeze, then pop the food out of the pan, wrap it well and store in freezer. Then, when ready to cook, unwrap the food, place it back into the pan and cook.
18. Chopped Onions and Peppers. When onions and peppers are on sale, stock up, cut them up, and freeze in freezer bags.
19. Whole Wheat Flour. Any flour can technically be frozen, but whole wheat really should be to keep the oils from going bad. We have a grain grinder and enjoy the taste and health benefits of freshly ground flour, but we quickly freeze anything we don’t use right away to keep the nutrients.
20. Uncooked Dough and Batter. Besides the pizza and pie dough mentioned above, you can also freeze pancake, waffle, or cake batter as well as any bread dough. Then, just thaw and bake!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of the best foods to freeze to save money. Freezing these foods saves us hundreds per year not to mention time with our busy family. What else to you freeze? Leave me a comment below!