I have been compensated by Dillons to write this article, however all frozen food hacks and opinions remain my own.
How many freezers do you have, or is that too personal a question? I am almost ashamed to admit that we have four freezers in this house. We have our regular freezer in the kitchen, we have a freezer attached to the fridge in the garage (for overflow and extra frozen milk etc), we have a chest freezer in the garage (where we store our scores on closeout or Manager’s Special meat, any meat from our hunting and fishing friends, and larger frozen pizzas) and then we have a freezer in the bar in our basement (that holds mostly frozen mugs and concentrated juice for our favorite adult beverages).
We are freezer friendly around here, and good thing since March is National Frozen Food Month! Whether your freezer is stocked with meat or frozen pizzas, get ready to celebrate because we have partnered with Dillons to compile this list of 17 different frozen food hacks!
Before we get started, it is important to note that your freezer operates most efficiently when full. So when you see a great deal on a frozen product your family uses often, stock that freezer up! National Frozen Food Month is the perfect time to reorganize and revamp the way you think about freezer storage space, friends! On to the frozen food hacks!
17 Frozen Food Hacks
1. Freeze cheese
Yes, you sure can freeze cheese! We have noticed that hard cheeses freeze best and cheeses like Parmesan are so much tastier when grated fresh off the block. Next time you pass by the cheese island, pick up a block and take it home.
Tip: Grate as much as you like now and then freeze, the cheese will thaw much quicker after grated – not to mention grating frozen cheese is a workout that I didn’t sign up for.
2. Freeze Potato Chips
We try not to eat too many potato chips but sometimes I find myself with half a bag after a late-night crunch fest. So I throw it in the freezer to a.) hide it from the kids and b.) keep the chips from going stale.
3. Don’t waste the marinade
What meat lover doesn’t enjoy a good marinated chicken breast, steak or pork loin? Taking the hours and hours to marinate that meat sure can crimp your grilling style, not to mention you end up throwing away the excess marinade.Instead, next time use the left over marinade and freeze additional meat for future meals! So when you want your favorite marinated chicken all you have to do is pull it out of the freezer. Just be sure to label it with the date. 😉
4. Protect your ice cream
Ice cream matters, and it needs to be protected. Have you ever grabbed a spoon and the second half of your favorite ice cream only to find it covered with freezer burn? The easiest solution (without throwing it out) is to cover the ice cream with cling wrap before sticking it back in the freezer. Simply press the cling wrap down so that the ice cream will not come into direct contact with air. Boom!
5. Brown ground beef in bulk
This has got to be my favorite of the frozen food hacks. When you find a great deal on ground beef (or any ground meat really), buy multiple pounds. When you’ve got enough (I try to wait until we’ve got about ten pounds) brown it all at once. Even if you’re throwing ground turkey or ground sausage in with hamburger, we have found it will all take on the flavor of the ground beef. Portion the browned ground meat into one pound bags and freeze them. When spaghetti night comes around (or Taco Tuesday!) simply pull out a bag of pre-browned ground meat and heat it up.
Talk about a time saver, and just think of how many times you’re NOT cleaning that skillet! This is also a great way to throw in other kinds of inexpensive meat without your family knowing. You can’t taste a pound or two of Manager’s Special ground turkey when it’s mixed in. Promise. I won’t tell if you won’t tell. 😉
6. Freeze milk
One thing I always have in my freezer? Milk. Quite frequently Dillons will put their half gallons on sale for $1 each – or their full gallons for about $2. Instead of paying $3 or $4 per gallon elsewhere, stock up when on sale and freeze it!
Some tips for freezing milk:
1.) Open the container and pour (drink) just a enough milk out so that the carton will not explode during the process.
2.) Take note of the expiration date. Count how many days there are until expiration. Write that number on the carton with a sharpie. Example: if I buy milk on the 17th and the expiration date is 25th, I would write an 8 on the carton. This way when I thaw the milk I know that I have 8 days to use it before it starts going bad (as if it’ll last that long, ha). You may also note the date that you pull it out of the freezer if that’s helpful.
3.) Allow the milk to thaw for a few days. Rotate them out as necessary.
4.) Shake and ENJOY!
Grapes in all forms – including wine! – can be frozen. I am more of a red wine girl myself, but when hosting get-togethers, I like to have some frozen grapes on hand for my white wine loving girlfriends. Aren’t those floating grapes pretty?! And a nice little snack at the end of each glass. 😉 Never drink on an empty stomach ladies.
8. Leftover wine.
How is this even a thing?! However, if you find yourself with a little leftover wine after your last glass, why not throw the extra in ice cube trays? Use it for cooking later on. I call that a win-win my friend.
9. Yogurt on the go
Frozen yogurt is a great alternative to ice packs. In school lunches, throw in a frozen Go-Gurt tube instead of an ice pack and by the time lunch rolls around, the yogurt will be thawed and the sandwich and carrots will still be cool. Every year my kids go to the zoo for the end-of-year field trip and these frozen yogurt tubes work perfectly!
10. Leftover fresh herbs? Oil infuse them!
My husband Paul and I are seasoning lovers. When those fresh herbs start to wilt (or even for the sake of ease later) Paul will throw those herbs into an ice cube tray along with garlic and olive oil and freeze them. Nothing better than herb infused olive oil! Just pluck one out when you’re ready to cook and voila! The combination possibilities are endless, and everything tastes better with fresh (even if frozen) herbs.
11. Chill wine or beer (in half the time)
Sure, I think we’ve all thrown a bottle of wine or beer in the freezer to chill, but did you know that first wrapping it in a wet paper towel will chill it in about half the time? Just don’t forget about it!
12. Freeze onions
When cutting onions, it is the propanethiol S-oxide (enzymes mixing with the sulfenic acid in onions, or so I’ve heard) that makes us cry. To keep from crying, place an onion in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to cutting it.
In fact, why don’t you cut a bunch at once and freeze them in portions for ease of use later? Similar to the ground beef tip above, this tip will save you nothing but time. And tears – lots of tears.
13. Use binder clips for vegetable bags
If you’re low on freezer space, take advantage of every single square inch by hanging your frozen vegetable bags from the wire racks using binder clips. Yes, the ones you’d find at the office supply store.
14. Chicken stock
Does your family enjoy baked whole chicken? It is a super inexpensive meal and you can get even more bang for your buck by boiling down the carcass (add whatever seasonings you like, if any), then straining and freezing the chicken stock. Use ice cube trays and pop them out when frozen.
Eggs are super easy to freeze. You’ll want larger ice cube trays, if possible, and never freeze eggs while still in the shell. When you find eggs uber cheap, stock up! If you don’t use them in time, just crack them and freeze, then pop them into a food storage bag and use for baking, quiche or scrambled eggs in the future.
Not to get all Paula Dean on you here, but real butter will always taste better. My personal stock up price is $2 per pound, so when Dillons puts them on sale for about that price I STOCK UP and freeze it.
Tip: If you’re not the kind to leave your butter in a dish on the counter, try using a cheese grater next time you butter your toast instead of trying to smear rock hard butter.
Have a bowl full of bananas about to go bad? Cut them up and freeze them! This is a great way to preserve the bananas for later use in smoothies, banana bread etc.
Another great way to keep your freezer organized and to prevent freezer burn is to invest in a vacuum sealing storage system. Keeping all frozen things air-tight helps to prevent freezer burn, and buying in bulk (especially during Dillons’ meat sales!) is many times cheaper than buying individually. Separate them out when you get home and vacuum seal what you won’t use before the best-by date.
Do you have any new and awesome frozen food hacks we need to know about? Leave them in the comments!
More around the house:
Easy Homemade Pumpkin Dog Biscuits
How We Bought a Propane Grill for Just $4 + Tax
Tips for Finding Deals on Organic, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, Vegetarian and Vegan Foods
Why Every Household Needs a Low Inventory List