A 12-Month Series by Guest Blogger Julia Wessels, from The Frugal Find
We talked very briefly last month about freezing your food as a method to saving money each month. Well I want to elaborate because in my opinion this is one of the MAIN ways you can save BIG each month. The key is stocking up when the prices are low, but if your food goes to waste so does your money. So you need to be prepared to freeze your goods.
For quite some time I used the affordable over the counter Ziploc Vacuum Starter and Bags to freeze various food. However recently we upgraded to a FoodSaver from Costco, we bought the lower end model for $64 (after an instant $20 rebate). I’m so happy we did this, it’s made the process so much quicker and easier! However the Ziploc Vacuum works very well too!
Here is a list of many food staples that freeze well. Of course, this isn't an extensive end-all list, but it's a great place to start!
Milk and Cheese - Cheese is simple, just toss it in the freezer that includes shredded cheese too! However with your milk, you'll need to take the cap off and pour out about a 1/2 cup to leave room for the jug to expand. Often times you can find milk on clearance but if it expires in just a few days, you may not consider buying 4 gallons, unless of course you freeze them! When you thaw out your milk (in the fridge) you may need to give it a good shake before serving, but that's it.
Eggs - Yes, surprisingly eggs freeze very well! You'll just need to take them out of their shells first and scramble them (you don't have to, but I find it's much easier this way). Place the scrambled eggs in ice cube trays to freeze them initially, then I combine them in a Ziploc bag to save space. You could also just place 6 scrambled eggs directly into a ziploc bag if you plan to use them all at once.
Veggies, Herbs, and Fruit - These are one of my favorites to freeze because it means that even when produce isn't in season I can still enjoy it. Recently I stocked up on asparagus. Here’s a tip when freezing asparagus (and brussels sprouts), the key is to blanch them first. Drop them into boiling water for 2-3 minutes then immediately place them into a cold water ice bath. Blanching stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. Until vegetables are harvested, the enzymes cause them to grow and develop their color and flavor. By blanching them you stop that process, keeping them as fresh as possible.
Bread, Cake, Pies, Dough - All forms of pastries freeze well, you just need to make sure that you prep it well using wax paper and a good freezer bag (or freezing system). Bread goes on sale from time to time and if I can find a good hearty whole wheat loaf for $1.00, that's when I buy 8-10 loaves and stick them in the freezer. We have 4 kids and we easily go through a loaf every 2-3 days so stocking up is essential for us.
Fully Prepared or Fully Cooked Meals - This won't just save you money it will save you a lot of time too! If you can cook a meal or two in bulk and then freeze the rest you'll be very thankful when a busy day rolls around. Just grab that extra pan of enchiladas out of the freezer and stick in the oven! Maybe you'd like to organize a group of friends and create a Freezer Meal Exchange Group on Facebook!
You may also be interested in using this Free Printable Freezer Inventory Form to keep track of what you have in the freezer. After all, you've gone through all the effort to score a deal and prep it for the freezer you wouldn't want it to go to waste because you forgot you had it!