We are big on the “Waste not, want not” idea when it comes to the kitchen. We use up everything to the last drop whenever possible and that often means getting a little creative on creating dishes before things go bad. We do a lot of roasting vegetables to be used in multiple meals like our Italian Quinoa Salad or throwing in new items into our Salmon-Kale-Quinoa Cakes.
We also freeze things when possible to prolong their shelf life. One of my favorite things to freeze is fruit. Even though we go through A LOT of fruit in our home, there always seems to be a banana about to go brown here or a few strawberries starting to turn towards the mushy side of ripe there. And I’ll admit, I’m a snob when it comes to over ripened fruit. It just doesn’t do it for me, especially bananas. Freezing items for other kitchen adventures makes it so that we don’t have to waste as much and stretches our dollar further. Below are some of the way we freeze various fruits (and other things) for future use.
Strawberries (or any berry for that matter): Berries are great thing to freeze, especially because they can be hard (and expensive) to find when not in season. I like to use them later in smoothies, muffins, pies, or breads. Simply wash them, let dry a little, cut off the stem (strawberries) and freeze in containers or zip lock baggies. If you’re freezing them for smoothies, separating them into portion-sized bags makes for an easy grab and go option!
Pineapple: This is something I started to do after living in Hawaii. I started to crave pineapple, but was not used to the mainland prices for a good fresh one. So, I started eating it a slower pace and decided to start freezing it for my smoothies. Simply cut it up and freeze in portion sized bags. Because it’s so juicy, you’ll want to separate it in portions before freezing or you’ll end up with a big “ice block” of pineapple!
Bananas: Bananas are always in our freezer. Even though I eat one religiously every day, I always seem to have one that ripens beyond my liking. So, I simply throw it in the freezer. Yes! I just throw in straight in the freezer with the peel on and all. I’ll then use it later for some yummy banana bread. The day I plan on making banana bread, I simply take the frozen bananas out of the freezer (the peel will have turned black, don’t worry, that’s normal!) and let them thaw. They slip right out of the peel when thawed and are already pre mushed for the bread. It’s easy and they are still full of flavor.
I’ve also frozen bananas for smoothies, but with this I use a different process. It takes a little bit more time, but makes for prepping great smoothies. You’ll want to line a baking sheet or a Rubbermaid container with parchment paper. Then Slice the peeled banana like you were putting it on your cereal. Lay the peeled banana in a single layer on the parchment paper, cover and freeze for a few hours (or until the bananas are frozen). If you are making portioned smoothie bags, place 4-5 banana slices per bag. The parchment paper makes the banana slices peel off easy.
Grapes: YUM. This is a fruit I’ll freeze in the summer just to have a good cold treat on hand. They are so good frozen! Simply de-vine, wash and place in a container or a gallon sized zip lock.
Cookie Dough: J.O is a big spare of the moment cookie monster. Meaning, when he wants home made cookies, it’s not “will you make cookies this week?” It’s, “will you make cookies….now?” To tackle this random late night craving, I started to freeze half of the cookie batter whenever I made it. This way, we typically have some in the freezer that I need to let thaw for an hour before cooking. I figured it was possible since they put cookie dough in ice cream, and it was! I saw an idea once on pinterest where they used an ice tray and put a scoop in each one, making it so you could bake one at a time, but I’ve never tried it.
Guacamole: Yes, I freeze our guacamole. I tend to make enough to feed the Russian army, and lets be honest, it takes a bit of time to make. Easiest way to free up some of my time on our next Mexican night or have a ready to go appetizer to bring, freeze it. Just make sure that your container is airtight. I’ll freeze it up to 2 months. If you think that it’s going to be watery, then add in an extra small avocado when you that it. You can even freeze your avocados whole if they are getting too ripe.
Meats and Fish: Because we typically eat on average 1-2 chicken breasts a week, I’ll often freeze our meat. Most of the chicken or beef dishes I make for J.O only use a single breast, a few sausages or one small steak. Because things are often sold in packages of two or more, I’ll individually wrap them in a sandwich baggie and then all of them in a gallon sized freezer bag or Rubbermaid container. This way, we can grab a single serving (one breast, one sausage, etc) with out having to thaw out the entire package.
Butter: We don’t go through a lot of butter, so freezing it helps it keep. It’s also helpful for those recipes that ask for chilled butter. I will say, since we’re on the dairy subject, that I’m not a fan of freezing cheese. I know a lot of people do it, but I always feel like there is an added film on it when thawed. Then again, I live in Wisconsin for a while and also admit to being a bit of a cheese snob.
Corn: Although we don’t really eat too much corn, if we have fresh corn on the cob, I’ll often freeze whatever we didn’t have with a meal. I used to do this often when we lived in the Midwest. I’d later use the corn in salsa or a side dish. Just like if you bought frozen corn from the grocery store. It’s really easy. Simply Peel backs the husks. Wash the corn while still on the cob. Then, with a steady hand and a sharp knife cut the kernels off the cob. You’ll hold the cob with one hand so it’s perpendicular to your cutting board and draw the knife down the cob towards the cutting board with the other. The kernels will pile up! Freeze in a container or in a zip lock bag.
I highly recommend freezing things before they go bad. There are many options for using them in later recipes! Just think of the items in the frozen foods section of the grocery store. The important rule of thumb to remember is to make sure things are airtight and if you thaw something, DON’T refreeze it. Once it’s thawed, it’s more likely to develop freezer burn and go bad. This is especially true with meats.
Here are some other things you can freeze:
- Kiwi fruit
- Shaved coconut
- Sliced peaches
- Casseroles (or Hot Dishes to my Minnesotan friends)
- Pasta Sauce
- Left over smoothies! Place in a container, take out 1-2 hours before wanting to blend up with more ice.