We know the drill. You come home from work or a workout, you didn’t order a meal delivery service or takeout, your Whole Foods hasn’t been delivered by Amazon yet, and you’re exhausted. Nothing in the fridge shouldn’t mean pulling out a musty packet of protein energy bar and blending that with ice and almond milk for dinner. Just open your stocked freezer.
Though you may already do this with leftover soups, casseroles, and baked goods, it’s time to up your game by freezing ingredients you may not have thought of. We called on the experts for advice on how to freeze some of those why-didn’t-I-think-of-that foods. Get ready to save a bundle of money—and time.
Combine avocados’ fragility with their rising prices, and you have one frustrating food. Keeping them in the fridge works for a day or two, but if you got overzealous at the store, now you can freeze your bounty to enjoy later.
For Best Results: Pick ones that yield to gentle pressure, cut in half, and remove the pits. Then puree with 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice for every 1 avocado and pack into a sealable container, leaving 1/2 to 1-inch headspace. You can also portion the puree out by using an ice cube tray to freeze it, then moving the frozen cubes to another container. Either way, your avocado will keep for three to four months. Frozen puree like this is best used when blended into recipes like smoothies and pasta sauces, adds Rebecca Lewis, RD, in-house dietitian at HelloFresh.
It’s so sad when you go to grab that block of cheese to add to pasta dishes or as a snack with, say, fresh figs and find it’s grown blue fuzz (ick). You can avoid that by freezing hard and semi-hard cheeses; their flavor will stay, though you might find them crumblier than fresh blocks (beats tossing it, though).
For Best Results: Freeze a whole block or a large chunk, wrapped in freezer-weight plastic wrap or bags, which will keep moisture out. “There is no need to double wrap if you do this,” says Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D., director of the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia. “Use a wrap that can fit close to all surfaces to keep air out.” If you can’t find these and only have aluminum foil, then put your wrapped cheese in a bag, she adds, because foil can break. Never freeze cream cheese, cottage cheese, or ricotta —the liquid often separates, leaving you with less-desirable texture, Andress explains. Use your hard cheese within six months for the best taste.
No need to worry about that last glass cabernet going to waste! Simply pour the leftover into an ice cube tray, freeze, and transfer the cubes to a Ziploc bag.
For Best Results: Lewis recommends blending them with water, berries, and a bit of sugar for a delicious frozen drink—DIY frose! “You can also throw the cubes into sauces,” Lewis says. “Red wine and stock makes a lovely dark sauce over red meats, and white wine and butter makes a nice light sauce over white meats and fish. Or use it when making risotto.” The wine will keep for up to 3 months.
Need to make a sauce creamier or garnish a fresh heaping bowl of berries? Heavy cream that sits in the fridge, especially when it’s open, can go bad fairly quickly, so freezing is a great solution.
For Best Results: If you’re going to whip your cream, make sure it’s at least 30 percent fat, and whip it before freezing it, as defrosted cream is unlikely to form peaks, Lewis says. Make your whipped cream as you like it, then dollop it out on a baking sheet. Freeze, then remove and store in a freezer container for one to two months.
Eggs are useful for so many things, it’s hard to imagine them lasting long enough to require freezing. But it does happen, and when it does, you can freeze whole eggs, or the yolks and whites separately.
For Best Results: For whole eggs, mix the yolks and whites. To avoid a grainy yolk, add 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar or 1/2 teaspoon salt per cup of whole eggs (stick with salt unless you know you’ll be using the eggs for a dessert). To help with the math, about five eggs is 1 cup. Then strain the beaten eggs through a sieve. Transfer to a container with at least 1/2 inch headspace, or pour into an ice-cube tray, adding 3 tablespoons mixture to each compartment; this will produce cubes equivalent to 1 large egg. Transfer the frozen cubes to a container.
To freeze just yolks, gently stir them. Add the same ingredients in the same amounts as above and strain. You can freeze the entire batch, or portion by the tablespoon (1 tablespoon equals 1 large yolk) into an ice cube tray to freeze. To freeze just egg whites, gently mix the whites, being careful not to whip them. Strain through a sieve. Freeze the entire batch, leaving 1/2 inch headspace in the container, or portion by 2 tablespoons (2 tablespoon equals 1 large egg white) into an ice cube tray to freeze. For all of them, be sure there’s no shell in the egg liquids you are going to freeze. Frozen eggs keep for up to a year.
Few things are more flavorful and of the season then healthy herbs. They can make all the difference when tossed into salads, strewn on grilled organic meats and sustainable fish, or chopped and throw into sauces and marinades. But they are fragile and tend to wilt and go brown surprisingly fast.
For Best Results: First wash, dry, and chop your herbs. Then measure out a tablespoon in each slot of an ice cube tray, add olive oil, and freeze. Transfer the frozen cubes to a Ziploc bag for keeping for up to three months. Now you instantly have infused oil to cook with and make “literally anything,” Lewis says. Just pop out a cube and add it into dishes. She likes tarragon with warm boiled potatoes, parsley with bell peppers, thyme with sweet potatoes, and cilantro with fish. When frozen in oil, herbs will keep for about three months.
Smoothies, ice cream, soups, is there anything our beloved healthy coconut milk doesn’t work well in? Once you open a carton or can though, the taste and quality can quickly go downhill. Freeze that baby!
For Best Results: This is another easy one, and it works with canned or carton coconut milk: Simply use an ice cube tray again. Then pull out the cubes to flavor soups and add creaminess to smoothies. “A standard ice cube tray is 2 tablespoons per slot,” Lewis says. “This works great because two tablespoons are perfect for smoothies, so just throw in one cube, and when cooking with coconut milk, the serving size is approximately 1/4 cup, so you would throw in two cubes.” The coconut milk will stay good for about three months.
BIO: Brittany Risher is a writer, editor, and digital strategist specializing in health and lifestyle content. She loves experimenting with new vegan recipes and believes hummus is a food group. To stay sane from working too hard, she turns to yoga, strength training, meditation, and Scotch.
Also published on Medium.