If your freezer has only been used to store frozen pizza, microwave meals and ice cream, you’ve been missing out. Unleash the power of your freezer with these brilliant hacks designed to make your life easier — and cool!
Pack Your Freezer Full
It’s a good idea to try to cram as much stuff as you can possibly fit in there. Why? The more you have in your freezer, the easier it is (and less energy it takes) to keep food cold, since the frozen food itself actually chills its fellow food. Even if you don’t have enough stuff to fill your freezer, fill some plastic bottles or jugs with water (about 75 per cent full) and put them in the freezer to fill the space.
Freeze Individual Servings of Steel-Cut Oatmeal
A steaming-hot bowl of fresh steel-cut oatmeal is one of the most delicious, nutritious breakfast choices you can make — but who’s got the time to make oatmeal every morning? You do: simply cook up a big batch, pour into a muffin tin and freeze. Once frozen, remove from the muffin tin and seal up in a resealable freezer bag, and you’ll have single serving oatmeal portions (just heat in the microwave) whenever the mood strikes.
Freeze Bananas for Smoothies, Banana Bread or Whatever
If you’ve got some bananas that are ripening and you don’t think you’ll eat them before they get soft and mushy, chop them up and freeze them. You can add the frozen banana chunks to smoothies, use them to bake banana bread, as a healthy base for ice cream (also known as banana “nice cream”) or whatever springs to mind. So handy — and so healthy!
Freeze Pizza Dough
The next time you make any dough for a pizza or pie crust, make extra and freeze what you don’t use. Simply thaw and you can make a fast, fresh pizza at a moment’s notice.
Freeze Homemade Soup Stock in Ice Cube Tray
Soup stock is an incredibly handy thing to have on hand in the freezer, but have you considered freezing it in ice-cube trays? Try it — you’ll have a constant supply of cubes to use for recipes, without having to defrost an entire container.
Freeze Leftover Wine for Cooking
Instead of pouring leftover red or white wine down the sink, freeze it to use for cooking (which will also save you from the problem of having to open a new bottle when a recipe calls for a quarter-cup of vino). An ice cube tray is an ideal way to freeze it, leaving you with small, individual cubes that are as convenient as it gets.
Freeze Cookie Dough
When baking cookies, double the recipe and freeze half the dough after cutting it into cookie-sized portions. Then, if the craving for a fresh-from-the-oven cookie (or two) overcomes you, simply pop a couple in the oven and you’ll have hot cookies in minutes.
Freeze Marinated Chicken Breasts
Grab a family-sized pack of chicken breasts and let them soak in your favourite marinade. Set aside the ones you’re planning to cook for dinner and store the rest in resealable freezer bags, ready to thaw and cook for a quick-and-easy dinner solution.
Store Opened Bags With Binder Clips
Try using binder clips (the kind found at office supply stores) to clip opened bags onto freezer racks in order to free up storage space.
Freeze Sliced Bread
Why let sliced bread go stale when you can freeze it and keep it fresh for up to six months? Simply grab a frosty slice from the freezer, pop it in the toaster and breakfast is served.
Magazine Holders As Shelves
If you’re looking to add a little organization to your freezer, try using plastic magazine holders as shelves to provide some order to your freezer.
Freeze Fresh Herbs
If you’ve got some fresh herbs that you probably won’t be using, before they go bad, chop them up and stuff into an ice cube tray, and pour in some olive oil and freeze. You now have flavourful individual herb cubes that are ideal for cooking.
Blanch Vegetables Before Freezing
If you’re planning to freeze vegetables, it’s a good idea to blanch them first; a short time in boiling water before placing them in storage bags helps veggies retain their flavour when it comes time to defrost.
It probably never occurred to you to freeze eggs, did it? The trick is to crack the eggs into an ice cube tray before freezing, as keeping them in the shells is a bad idea since the shell will crack as the egg expands. This is a great way to keep eggs fresh if you’re ever using a recipe that calls for an egg or two.
Freeze Grated Cheese
Grated cheese freezes extremely well, and it can be unbelievably convenient to have some on hand in the freezer when needed as it thaws quickly.
Rather than pour out milk that’s approaching its best-before date, freeze it for later use. One important thing to note: milk will expand when frozen, so make sure the container is only filled to about three-quarters of its capacity to allow for expansion.
Freeze Yogurt for Smoothies
The same holds true for yogurt: rather than let it sit in the fridge and go bad, put it in the freezer to use for refreshing smoothies or DIY frozen yogurt.
Freeze Pureed Avocado
If you’re a fan of guacamole, keep in mind that puréed avocado freezes really well, and can be quickly thawed in order to whip up a quick batch of the delicious Mexican dip.
Freeze Potato Chips So They'll Stay Crispy
You’ll never have to worry about potato chips getting stale once the bag has been opened if you store them in the freezer — this will keep the chips as fresh and crispy as ever.
Brent Furdyk is a freelance writer in Vancouver.