Can you freeze lunch meat? Can you freeze shredded cheese? The answer is yes! Although it may seem like it is hard to coupon for items that go bad, such as bread and cheese, you can stock up on these items by freezing them. Whenever there is a good sale on bread, bagels, english muffins, or other baked goods, stock up on them and freeze them to keep them fresh for a long period of time.
The same strategy for shopping with coupons can apply. Watch the sales and learn how to prepare and process these foods for the freezer, and you won’t have to pay full retail price for them. Read below to learn how to freeze bread, how to freeze lunchmeat, how to freeze cheese, and much more!
Foods You Can Freeze:
To freeze bread, simply wrap the bread in an extra layer of plastic wrap and place in the freezer. I have found that it is best to store frozen bread in the center of your freezer and away from the sides, as this helps prevent freezer burn. Bread can get stale in the freezer if it is stored for too long, but I find that I can easily store 2-3 weeks of bread in my freezer without compromising the flavor or texture. If you find that you have some frozen bread that was stored for too long, don’t throw it out; instead, use it for French toast, bread pudding, bread crumbs or extender in meatloaf or meatballs.
Cheese is an expensive item at the grocery store, often retailing at $4.00 a pound or more. However when you can find a good deal on it go ahead and stock up and freeze it. Hard cheeses freeze the best but if frozen in blocks many will thaw with a crumbly texture so it is best to use these cheeses for cooking (think lasagna, enchiladas, macaroni & cheese). Cheese that is already shredded is easily frozen. Just toss the bags directly into the freezer or if you buy cheese in bulk or by the block you can shred the cheese at home (a food processor with a shredding attachment makes the job easier) and package in 1 or 2 cup sizes in freezer bags. Sliced American cheese (think Kraft Singles) can also be frozen, just watch for freezer burn. Just about all types of cheese can be frozen, but some will change texture when thawed. Most cheeses can be frozen for about 6 months however if you package them in air tight bags (Foodsaver) cheese can last a year or longer in the freezer.
Lunch meat is another expensive food item that can be frozen for use later. Meat sliced fresh from the deli as well as pre-packaged deli meat can be frozen for up to 6 months. Look for sales and if you can combine with manufactures coupons for additional savings. Pre-packaged lunch meat can be frozen right in the package but sliced deli meat from the deli counter should be packaged in air tight bags. Once thawed most deli meats will be expel some of the water and be a little juicy. However all you need to do is drain off or pat the lunch meat on a paper towel to dry the meat. I have not found any significant change in texture once thawed. One money saving tip for deli meat is to look for deli ends from the deli counter. These ends of ham, turkey and roast beef can be had sometimes for $1.00 a pound and can be sliced or diced for additions to meals.
Whenever eggs go on sale for $0.99 a dozen or less I try to purchase a few dozen to help stretch my budget. Eggs can last 2-3 weeks in their carton in your refrigerator, but if you don’t think you will use them before they expire then freezing can extend the use of your bargain eggs. The easiest way to freeze eggs is to crack them into a container and beat them until the white and yolk are combined. Put the beaten egg into small containers and freeze. I like to make small containers that hold 2 eggs each and since many recipes call for 2 eggs and 2 eggs is usually a serving for omelets or scrambled eggs. However you can also freeze in larger containers of 4 to 6 eggs as well for larger recipes or meals. I just simply thaw the frozen eggs in the refrigerator overnight and use the next day. You can cook scrambled eggs right from the frozen state if you start your pan on a low temperature. I use frozen eggs in cakes, cookies, quiche, pancakes, and all sorts of dishes. Additionally you can freeze the yolks and whites separately. To freeze egg yolks, place the egg yolks into a container and gently stir. Add 1 ½ tablespoons sugar, 1 1/1 tablespoons corn syrup or ½ teaspoon salt per cup of egg yolk depending on the intended use (sugar and corn syrup for sweet baked goods or salt for savory dishes). Package into containers allowing ½ inch headspace. Seal and freeze. One tablespoon egg yolk mixture equals on egg yolk. To freeze egg whites, place the egg whites into a container and gently mix (do not whip). Package in containers leaving ½ inch headspace. Seal and freeze containers. Two tablespoons of the egg-white mixture equal one egg white.
Fruits and vegetables
While the list of fruits and vegetables that can be frozen is too extensive to list out here. You can and should freeze produce when it is in season and at the cheapest price possible. Gardening and growing your own produce can further reduce the cost on nutritious fruits and vegetables. To get a feel about what fruits and vegetables can be frozen take a walk down the frozen food section of your store. Everything from berries, melons, corn, green beans, peas, tomatoes, potatoes and more can be frozen. I like to buy in bulk and prepare for freezing things that I consider staples for cooking. When potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, and citrus are in season I take a few hours to do some prep work. Some items need no preparation before freezing. Berries for example should just be picked through to make sure there are no moldy ones and then just need to be flash frozen on a cookie sheet. Once frozen berries can be packed into freezer bags or containers for long term storage in your freezer. Other produce items need a little bit of prep work before they can be frozen. Corn, carrots, peas and green beans for example need to be blanched before being frozen. Potatoes on the other hand really need to be cooked before they can be frozen as the starch in potatoes turns into sugar and can effect the taste and texture of the final product.
Fresh herbs are a wonderful thing to have on hand for cooking a tasty dish however they are expensive at the grocery store. I prefer to grow my own (herbs are easy to grow, give them a try). However weather you purchase them at the store or farmers market or grow your own you usually will have more fresh herbs than you will need for a dish so freezing the extra allows you to prevent waste and have that same fresh herb taste. To freeze herbs you have a couple of options. The easiest way is to combine your fresh herbs with a little water and process them in a blender or food processor. Freeze the mixture in ice cube trays. Once frozen place your herb cubes into freezer bags and seal. Use the frozen herb cubes in soups and stews and other cooked dishes. Another method is to flash freeze your herbs by placing dry sprigs of herbs on a wax paper or parchment lined cookie sheet and placing the entire sheet in the freezer. Once the herbs are frozen you can then place the herbs into plastic bags for use later. Frozen herbs will retain their flavor however will become limp once thawed, but are perfect to use in cooked dishes. This past summer I grew an abundance of basil and prepared 20 pints of homemade pesto and froze in small plastic freezer safe containers. I figured the cost of ingredients and containers ended up being about 1.50 a pint which is cheap compared to the almost $4.00 price of premade refrigerated pesto found at the grocery stores.
You can easily freeze milk for 6 months to a year. I usually toss whole gallons of milk right in the freezer with no other prep work needed. However some people like to open the container of milk and pour out a cup to allow for some head-space for freezing. I must admit that there are some folks that swear that there is a difference in the taste and/or texture of thawed frozen milk. But I personally cannot tell the difference. You may wish to freeze a gallon and then thaw it and taste it to see if you notice a change. Either way, you can always use the milk for cooking. Milk in my area sometimes goes on markdown for as low as $1.00 a gallon and as long as I freeze it right away I can extend the shelf life of that milk. Once thawed use the milk as normal.
Nuts are outrageously expensive but a great source of fiber and good for you fats. If you can get a deal on them there is no harm in freezing nuts for extended use. I like to look for nuts on clearance after the holidays but I will also buy in bulk at a warehouse store and freeze for long term use. Nuts stored at room temperature run the risk of the oils contained in the nuts going rancid, so even if you don’t have a lot of nuts to store, you should still store nuts in either your refrigerator or freezer. Nuts stored in the freezer can last 6 months to a year. To prepare there is no need to thaw, just pull desired amount from the freezer and chop or eat whole. You can freeze nuts right in the shell or to save space shell or purchase already shelled nuts to add to your freezer.
While dry rice can be stored a long time at room temperature provided that it is stored in a well sealed container, did you know that you can store cooked rice in your freezer? Whenever I make rice for a meal I like to make extra rice and freeze it for use later. I simply put cooked rice into freezer bags or containers. I add cooked rice to soups or other dishes that call for rice. You can freeze individual portions of rice or larger container for meals. While freezing rice may not save a lot of money it can be a time saver, and time is money when all is said and done. Cooking extra rice takes very little time or effort but when you are in a hurry to put a quick meal on the table having precooked rice on hand is a nice time saver.
I love a good glass of wine every now and then but often times I will find myself with leftover wine. You can save that wine by freezing in ice cube trays and placing the frozen wine cubes into plastic freezer bags. Then whenever a recipe calls for a little wine you can just toss a wine cube or two (remember one ice cube equals 3 tablespoons) into the dish. Additionally frozen wine cubes can be used as regular ice cubes in drinks like Sangria without watering down your drink. This method can also be applied to tea, coffee and other beverages.
The key to freezing items in order to save money is to buy the items when the price is low and in the case of produce when the item is in season, spend a few minutes on prep work, freeze and then make sure you use what is in your freezer for meal preparation.