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How to make the most of your freezer to eat well and save money.



The fridge was empty again. I spent 200$ at the grocery store just days earlier.


Where did all the food go?


Did we get robbed by hungry bandits in the night?

Did someone have a party I didn't know about?

Or did our growing kids just eat us out of house and home again?


There were still things to eat in the pantry: noodles, canned beans, and that really good chocolate I keep hidden on the top shelf. But I was out of fresh produce to make a good meal with.


Luckily I still had good healthy food in my freezer: fruits, vegetables, and meats!


I strategically use my freezer as a “storage bin” for the foods we frequently eat. I buy in bulk when prices are good, and freeze the extra before it goes bad. My freezer helps me spend less money on healthy food.


Do you want to spend less on healthy food too? Here's a list of money-saving freezer friendly foods:


#1 Discounted Produce:  Smiths has a discount bin with fruits/vegetables for $1.00 in red mesh bags (see lemons + peppers in photo below). The produce is sometimes old or bruised. It's fine to use right away, but if you can't use it right away, freeze it! Below is a list of my favorite clearance items to freeze for later (and a link for the recipes I use them in)




Lemons + limes:  


Frozen lemon, lime and ginger. No need prep required: just stick them in the freezer.

Peppers:

  • how: Chop then freeze in a ziploc bag. Use in recipes that call for cooked peppers.

  • cost savings: usually 3/1$ on discount, normal price: 1$ each

  • recipes:

  • Curry

  • Chili

  • Egg muffin cups


Bananas:


Frozen bananas in a reusable ziploc bag.

Spinach:

  • how: Place an entire bag or container in your freezer for about 3 months. If you have spinach going bad in your fridge, put it in the freezer for smoothies! I always have a bag of spinach in my freezer.

  • cost savings: Entire bags are sometimes on clearance for $1.00, normally a bag is $3.00. I often find the big bins for $2.50, they are about $6 regular price!

  • recipes: 

  • green smoothie

  • curry

  • crustless quiche (use spinach instead of broccoli)

  • green muffins

  • spinach lasagna

You can get big boxes of spinach for cheap! Just stick them in the freezer.

Squash and pumpkins:


I grew 20 pie pumpkins this year. I roasted them all and put them in freezer bags for pumpkin muffins!

Berries

  • how: Buy bags of frozen berries instead of fresh, defrost in the microwave

  • cost savings: 6oz fresh berries = 2.99 (.50cent/oz), 48oz frozen berries = 10.99 (.22 cent/oz). Fresh berries are DOUBLE the cost of frozen berries.

  • recipes:

  • Pancake topping instead of syrup

  • In oatmeal (I eat a bowl of oatmeal with frozen berries almost every morning)

  • Inside crepes

  • On top of yogurt

  • Defrost and serve on the side of dinner or lunch


Cut out extra sugar by using frozen berries instead of pancake syrup. Start now while your kids are little.

Mangoes

  • how: Buy frozen bags of mangoes instead of fresh, defrost in microwave

  • cost savings: fresh = 1$/.5 cup, frozen = 1$/1 cup Prices vary, but usually frozen is more economical, and you don't have to bother with cutting them or worry about them going bad before you can eat them!

  • recipes: 

  • smoothies (mango lassi)

  • defrost and serve on the side of meals (I do this at least once per week)


Broccoli + Cauliflower + Brussel Sprouts


I keep a bag of frozen broccoli in the freezer at all times.

Fresh Ginger

  • how: Buy fresh ginger and stick it in the freezer. It doesn't even need a bag on it.

  • cost savings: No savings, other than having it on hand so you don't have to run to the store when making the recipes below

  • recipes:

  • Peanut Noodles

  • Curry

  • Buddha Bowls 



#2 Meat Dairy and Bread




  • Discounted meat:  I don't eat a lot of meat. However, I know most people do! Meats are good past the expiration date if you put them in the freezer before they expire. I will buy discounted sausage and bacon that is about to expire and put it in my freezer for later (see bacon in photo above). It's still good if I use it within 1-2 months. I do make sure it hasn't already spoiled before I buy it!


  • Bulk meat:  I like to keep bacon on hand to give flavor to recipes. It is much less expensive per ounce to buy bacon in bulk. The same is often true of chicken. I rarely buy meat but if I do, I buy it in bulk.


  • Butter:  A few months ago my local smiths was discounting butter for $1.50 a pound. It's usually $4.00 per pound!! I bought 20 pounds for the freezer. The checker thought I was crazy. But I know that butter stays good in the freezer for a year or two and saved myself at least $50 in butter costs!


Butter freezes well for about 1 year. Buy in bulk when it's inexpensive.

  • Milk: Gallons of milk will often get marked down at my local Smiths. I will buy a few extra gallons and freeze them. Previously frozen milk does have a different texture, so I only use pre-frozen milk for cooking (pancakes, waffles, oatmeal). Other dairy products, like cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt and cottage cheese do not freeze well in my experience.


  • Cheese: Cheese prices change a lot! One week 2 pounds will be $5, the next week it will be $8. When the prices are low, I buy several bags and freeze it for later. I find that shredded cheese freezes nicely, bricks of cheese do not freeze as well.


#3 Bread

Stonefire naan bread tastes best with hummus or curry. I buy it on sale and freeze it. Pre-shredded cheese also freezes well.
  • fancy bread: Stores often discount baguettes and "fancy" sourdough loaves for less than 1$. They stay good in the freezer for about a month. I toast frozen bread before eating it.

  • naan bread: I often serve stone fire naan bread with curry and hummus. If it's on clearance, I'll buy it and stick it in the freezer for future meals.

  • bread loaves: When sandwich bread is priced well, I will buy a few loaves and freeze them. Then I always have bread for pbj's.


I hope a few of these ideas will help you save money and eat healthier too!


Remember that the key to saving money is to avoid throwing food away, so make sure you rotate through your freezer stash frequently. I always check what needs to be used in my freezer BEFORE I make my shopping list and go to the grocery store.


Speaking of shopping lists, here's mine for the week (we cleaned out our parents freezer and are using up all the old meat we found - hence the corn beef and pork - I rarely cook meat).




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