Stocking your freezer can be a serious money saver — find a good sale, load up your cart, then stuff your freezer — but only if you do it properly. You can freeze all kinds of food, but if you don’t store anything correctly, it’ll just turn into a big block of inedible freezer burn. Yum …
So, we’ve come up with a rundown on the best foods you can freeze. That way, you know when you’ve come across a freezer-busting sale on your next grocery store run. And if that sale matches up with any coupons on our site or cash back offers on our app? You’re going to make out like a bandit with a freezer full of deals.
Fruit isn’t great to defrost and eat like you would fresh fruit, but it certainly has a lot of great cooking and baking applications. You can use berries, cherries or chunks of stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, etc.) to throw in smoothies or to top oatmeal or granola. Freeze bananas for baking or apples for pie filling.
To get the most out of your fruit, you’ll want to prepare it first, cutting it into the size in which you think you’ll want to consume it. Most fruits will freeze well for up to nine months.
If you grow herbs in your garden and can’t stand when you only need a sprig of this or that for a recipe, you’ll be thrilled to know you can freeze herbs. You’ll want to pull out your ice cube tray for this one. The best way to freeze herbs is to add a little oil on top. This will make them skillet-ready when you want to use them. Most herbs will freeze well for up to 12 months.
It depends: veggies
Some vegetables are great to freeze, while others don’t hold up well. For example, you’ll want to avoid freezing vegetables that are high in water content like cucumbers or lettuce. They’ll just end up a soggy mess.
Here are some that will do well:
- Green beans
Vegetables should be prepared just like fruit (chopped, trimmed, etc.), but you’ll also want to consider blanching some of your vegetables — especially kale or broccoli. This will help them retain their vibrant color and lock in the nutrients. Most veggies will freeze well for up to eight months.
People don’t often think about freezing bread, but you definitely can. Wrap it in foil (on top of the plastic wrap it’s already in) to increase its longevity. You’ll want to slice it if it isn’t already so you can easily grab a piece or two at a time. Most store-bought bread will freeze well up to eight months but will taste the best within the first month or two.
Freezing meat, chicken or fish can preserve their freshness if done right away and give you a variety of proteins to cook with on a given night. It’s better to freeze the meat raw. Raw steaks, pork chops or roasts can last up to a year in the freezer. Fish will generally last closer to four to eight months, with shrimp lasting over a year.
Check out this chart from FoodSafety.gov for more info on how long different proteins will last in the freezer.
Although it’s possible to freeze some dairy (ice cream, anyone?), frozen dairy products often significantly change in texture. Items like yogurt and cottage cheese can turn into a grainy mess. You can freeze homogenized pasteurized milk and sticks of butter though, just not for a long period of time — more like up to three months.
Freezing prepared meals can be a huge time and money saver. So, while you’re cooking, double your batch — which can save you from a lot of half-opened cans and random food waste — and freeze one of the batches for an easy lunch or dinner. Lasagna, chili, stews, pot pies and enchiladas freeze well. Most soups also freeze well (watch out for cream-based soups, though, as they can change in texture).
Depending on what’s in them, prepared meals can typically hold up in the freezer for a few months.
It’s not just meals and ingredients you can freeze — you can also toss snacks in the freezer too.
- Nuts freeze well, and it helps them stay fresh longer.
- Edible cookie dough can stay in your freezer for up to a month.
- Freeze Oreo cookies for up to eight months.
- Freeze candy bars for up to a year and even eat them frozen!
- Throw a few leftover granola bars in the freezer, but pull them out after two to three months.
Safety (and savings) first
Not sure if you should freeze something or how long it should stay in the freezer? This FoodKeeper app from the U.S. Department of Agriculture has information on storing over 650 foods safely.
Once you get the hang of freezing food, you’ll have a bounty of meal options for months to come, saving you countless unneeded trips to the grocery store.