Friday’s Hot Tip: Make Use of Your Freezer

I was just standing in the kitchen, trying to think of a hot tip to share, when it came to me:

The Freezer.

While I love the oxymoron of a hot tip having to do with the freezer, I’m completely serious. You don’t necessarily need a lot of freezer room in order to take full advantage of its long-term storage capabilities. And it’s a great way to keep certain staples on hand for cooking and baking without worrying if they’ve gone bad.

Here’s a few ideas, taken from my own freezer:

Chopped onions. You can either buy a bag in the frozen veggies section of the store, or buy a bag of fresh chopped onion in the produce section and throw it in the freezer. When you need some onions for any recipe, you just pour out what you need from the bag and stick it back in the freezer. If you don’t mind cutting your own onions, you can save a little money. Make sure you don’t chop the onions too finely, as you can wind up with an onion popsicle that stubbornly refuses to chip off into nice workable chunks for cooking.

Butter. I always try to keep several sticks of butter in the freezer for those moments when I feel inclined to bake. I’m not sure if margarine sticks would keep as well – if you’ve tried this, let me know.

Bread. Joe loves bread and will go through a loaf in about 4 days. I buy 3-4 loaves when they are on sale and stick all but one in the freezer. This does take up a bit more room, but if your freezer is well-organized and your family goes through bread quickly, the clutter doesn’t last for very long.

Nuts. Again, if you like to bake, keeping chopped nuts in the freezer prevents them from going rancid too quickly.

Covered container for ice. I hate how ice can take on the smells and flavors of the freezer. If you don’t have an automatic icemaker, keeping a small bin of fresh ice might not be something you’ve considered – but now you can! At the dollar store, I bought a small square plastic container with an attached snap lid. I washed it out and stuck it in the freezer to hold ice cubes. It doesn’t take up much room, the closed lid keeps the ice fresh, and holds 4 trays’ worth of ice. You can stack items on top of the box if necessary.

Pre-marinated/seasoned chicken breast. This does require some prep time, but means that you have less work when you actually cook it.
1. Buy the family/value pack of fresh chicken breasts.
2. At home, set aside several squares of aluminum foil and about 3-4 freezer bags in varying sizes.
3. Dice several of the chicken breasts into small pieces and put into a medium size freezer bag, then add seasonings. Possibilities include barbecue sauce, honey, lemon, ginger, garlic powder, soy sauce, and teriyaki sauce. Seal the bag and mark it accordingly (e.g., “Stir Fry”, “BBQ”, “Spicy”).
4. Take one of the whole chicken breasts and place on a piece of foil. Make small slits on both sides of the breast using a sharp knife. Add herbs and spices as desired, rubbing them in to the meat. Good options include Italian seasoning, curry powder, chili powder, no-salt seasoning blends, pepper, and lemon or lime juice. Fold the foil around the breast to make a packet, then place into a large freezer bag. Label the bag accordingly – if you put several different types of packets into one bag, don’t forget to mark each packet.
5. When you’re ready to cook, grab a bag of chicken pieces or the foil packets. The foil packets can go right into the oven or on the grill, sealing in the juices and seasoning and eliminating extra fats. The pieces are ready for stir-frying, sauteeing, or stewing.

Got anything in your freezer that makes life a little easier? Share in the comments!

9 Replies to “Friday’s Hot Tip: Make Use of Your Freezer”

  1. Great tips! I learned that you should put your fresh onions in the freezer BEFORE you chop/slice/whatever them, because if you do it while they’re frozen, they won’t make you weep as easily.

  2. Nothing much resides in this bachelor’s freezer. Ice cream, frozen waffles and an occasional frozen pizza take up residence.

    When I feel particularly ambitious or they’re on sale for a really good price, I buy chicken breasts and make meal-size portions and freeze them, so I can make a quick home made dinner. But mostly I dine out, because I’m lazy and like to be waited on.

  3. Freeze the ched shred. I buy 3 bags at once and use them on just about everything from xtra cheese on the pizza, to burritos. Also the little 1 lb tubes of turkey meat. you can keep them on the door and they take up little space but can be manwiches in a pinch.

    FLA VA ICE!!!!

  4. Oh I forgot the wanton wrappers and spring roll wrappers that is a must in the freezer. You can use a bunch of left over veggies and stuff to make up some killa rolls. On Sunday, I made up some shrimp, goat cheese, red onion, roasted red peppers, and spinach rolls from left overs. the only thing we had to buy was the shrimp.

  5. LORELEI: I’ve heard that tip about onions, too, but I’ve yet to try it.

    JOHNNY R: I heart dining out!

    BETH: Try it out! If you need to cook with butter but forgot to thaw it out first, just soften up what you need in the microwave. I do this all the time for cookies.

    HW: I completely forgot to mention the shredded cheese! I buy it on sale and toss ’em in the freezer. Same with ground turkey – I try to stock up when the tubes are $1 each and then keep them on hand for burgers, pasta sauce, etc. The rolls sound really tasty – I might have to try that soon!

  6. I’m with you on the frozen onions. I hate cutting up onions, so these things make me so happy, plus when you only want a little bit at a time its easier to measure out what you want instead of cutting up a big onion and making yourself cry. I also like frozen cut up peppers.

  7. SW: I love the frozen peppers too and I am so annoyed that Trader Joe’s keeps running out of their “Melange a Trois” red, green & yellow pepper mix. I may have to buy fresh and just cut & freeze my own. Sounds boring.

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