FREEZE IT AND FIND OUT!
I thought it would be a great idea to come up with a list of foods you can freeze for later or foods you can freeze and re-heat when you have unexpected guests or are in need of a fast family meal.
My wife and I were making our homemade macaroni and cheese bake tonight when we pulled out a pesto basil cube from the freezer to add into the cheese sauce.
It was at that point I knew I had to take a look at our freezer inventory list to find out what foods we have in our freezer that some people wouldn’t typically think to freeze.
You certainly can save money if you freeze food but one important tip I was told to keep the savings flowing is to make sure you keep the freezer full. The reason is that once the freezer is full it requires less energy to run which makes sense.
Back about two years ago we borrowed a kill-a-watt electricity usage meter from the local library when the smart meter was installed on our home and we discovered our 1970’s freezer was costing us approximately $11 a month.
Some people forget to factor in electricity costs into the overall savings costs of freezing food but it’s a very important number.
That’s off the top of my head from what I remember and since then we keep saying we are going to buy a more efficient freezer.
The plan is to get rid of the big freezer and buy something half the size as it’s hard for us to fill it to the top with food. I might just go and buy one when it goes on offer and be done with it.
Freezer Food Rules
Just because you can toss food products in the freezer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow some simple freezer food rules such as not refreezing something you’ve defrosted or making sure you label anything that requires a label and date.
One thing we like to do is portion control our meats so that means when we buy meat in bulk we take the package apart and portion it into freezer bags.
So what’s in our freezer?
Well below is a list of what we found in our freezer and what other foods can easily become a freezer food that you can use when you are in a time pinch, bulk shop or have a huge garden.
I’m no freezer scientist or Alton Brown but my theory is try to use up the food you put in the freezer over the course of one year. We have never had any issues with food going off if it’s eaten that same year.
You don’t want to start keeping food in the freezer for years on end so make sure you have your freezer inventory list up to date so you know exactly what you have and when you froze it.
I’d be lying if I said we hated cheese because we LOVE IT! We go through so much cheese that we will stockpile this product when it goes on sale or if we find reduced priced cheese at the grocery store.
You can easily put full blocks of cheese in the freezer although I find it doesn’t grate as well so we grate the cheese before we freeze it.
If you are like me and enjoy taking a slice or two of cheese from the block to eat it you might find it’s not the same once it comes from the freezer. I just like to use the frozen cheese in casseroles or other recipes that have cheese as an ingredient.
To be honest we don’t store block cheese bars in the freezer often as they keep in our refrigerator for at least a couple of months without any problems. Worst case you just slice off a bit of the mold and keep eating!
The same goes for Parmigiano and Romano cheese. When we need some we just scoop out what we need from the freezer bag. We’ve also put cream cheese in the freezer especially if I am making a cheesecake then all I need to do is defrost and add to the recipe.
We store just about every vegetable you can think of from rapini, spinach, asparagus, red peppers, green peppers, whole tomatoes, corn, peas, celery, chopped onions, mushrooms. You name it and we freeze it if we have it on hand or get a load from the relatives from their massive garden.
If you can’t finish up what you have in your refrigerator don’t let it waste, clean it, dry it and freeze it for later use. I find vegetables can last in the freezer for up to a year without any issues.
Just about everyone I know ends up with brown bananas that they didn’t have time to eat. Yes, you are nodding your head. (I know these things). What we do is peel them and put them in a plastic freezer bag and keep them until we make banana oatmeal cookies or banana bread.
Right now our freezer is full or raspberries from our bush two years ago and they are perfectly fine. We use them in smoothies and other baked goods like muffins, strudel and sometimes jam if we are feeling up to it. If you like freezer jam you can make any type of jam you want with fruits that you have an abundance of.
We also have boatloads of rhubarb in our freezer waiting for me to figure out what to do with it all. Now that we have baby CBB we might make some apple rhubarb puree for him.
I started making baby food carrot puree for our son the other day. I didn’t want to have to peel carrots, cook, mash and freeze them every other day so I made enough for the week and froze them in muffin tins.
I like to use the muffin tins but I’ve heard that parents fill their ice-cube trays with the baby food which works equally as well.
Now anytime we want to mix in carrot puree with our sons rice cereal we pull a carrot puree disk from the freezer and microwave for 15 seconds or you can take out in the morning and defrost in the refrigerator until you need it.
You can freeze just about any baby food puree that you make so don’t be shy, cook and mash foods for your baby and save money not buying those pre-made jars at the grocery store.
Milk and Cream
It’s no secret that we buy milk in bulk if we can score a great deal or if we stockpile enough milk for a week or two and store it in the freezer.
We have had the odd bag break but other than that our milk is perfectly fine in the freezer and when we defrost it the flavour tastes just as if we had never froze it.
We do like to defrost the milk completely before using it otherwise we find that it gets too watery near the end. If you let the milk defrost properly from start to finish you should have no problems.
If we ever buy a container of cream or whipping cream that we don’t get a chance to use up before the expiry date we simply pour the cream into our empty muffin tin and freeze.
Once frozen we pop them out and store in the freezer. If we ever need to add cream or whipping cream to a recipe all we do is take out what we need and defrost it. Simple!
My wife also suggested years ago that we buy Halloween candy when it goes on offer for up to 75% off and store it in the freezer.
The goal is to make it last until next Halloween and it does for the most part and it’s perfectly fine.
We mentioned that this past Halloween to a lady at Metro and she loaded up her cart. Instead of paying $13.99 a box she paid $3.99 a box, you can’t beat that savings.
If you buy chocolate chips in the bags you can easily store those as well as any other types of chocolate bars you love.
Bread and Baked Goods
I’ve made cheesecake and all sorts of breads and pastries and kept them in the freezer until I needed to use them.
At Christmas we make ahead all of our peanut butter balls, snowballs and coconut balls and they stay perfectly fine for months until they come out at Christmas.
You can even freeze pies and cakes if you like to make them in advance. We enjoy making banana bread and bundt cakes which is easy to defrost and serve to guests.
If I don’t have time to make bread we buy loaves of bread and tortillas and just toss them in the freezer for later use.
It’s great when we find pink sticker 50% off bread on the reduced rack because it saves us quite a bit of money when we have the space to freeze the bread.
Everyone knows I’m a big fan of cookies, brownies, muffins and donuts but what you might not know is that you can make these products ahead of time and freeze them until you want to bake them.
Since our nephew loves fresh hot cookies from the oven we try to keep at least one bag of my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cowboy quickie cookie dough balls ready for when he comes for a visit.
If you only want to make a handful of cookies it’s great because you can pop out a few of your cookie dough balls and bake them fresh when you want.
Using an ice-cream scoop helps us to get uniform size balls and we freeze them on a tray first then put them into freezer bags and label.
I’m British and we love mashed potatoes but I always seem to make too much. I have a few recipes that require mashed potatoes like our zeppole potato donuts or our potato torpedos so any time I want to whip up a batch all I need to do is take out the frozen mashed potatoes, defrost and use as I need it.
It really does cut down on time having to peel and boil the potatoes but also waiting until they cool to use them in a recipe. I also mash squash, sweet potato and other root vegetables and store them in the freezer as well.
We have one bag of flour in the freezer which we put in last year because it’s a cake and pastry flour which we don’t use as much as the all-purpose flour.
If you read last weeks GGC post you know I talked about protecting your flour and other food products from nasty flour mites and other pantry pests that can invade your kitchen.
What I learned was that it really is smart to keep your flour in the freezer along with a couple of bay leaves to ward off any nasty critters.
Basil Pesto Cubes and herbs
In the summer our garden is over-flowing with basil, chives, parsley and green onions. What I like to do is pick all of our herbs and make basil pesto cubes.
Now we have a standard recipe that we created but we waste nothing and sometimes just pulse up all the herbs with some garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and put the mix into muffin tins to freeze.
Once the muffin basil pesto disks are frozen I remove them and put them into a freezer bag. The great thing about this is when we are cooking and want a fresh herb taste in our foods we now only have to pull a disk or two from the freezer to use in the meal.
We also store herbs dry in freezer bags and put them in the freezer to use throughout the year. Another smart tip is if you like to use fresh ginger in your meals don’t wait until it’s gone off in your refrigerator drawer toss it in the freezer.
You can take it out and grate it as you need it or slice bits for recipes without having to defrost it. Easy Peasy!
If you love to bake and cook like we do in our house you should stock up on butter whenever it goes on sale. This week it’s $2.88lb and a great time to buy 3 or 4 for the freezer.
I put the butter in one giant freezer bag to protect the butter from freezer burn which can happen over time. We had that happen once to butter we bought from the grocery store that must have been frozen and then defrosted while being kept in the refrigeration bunker.
Right now we have some liquid egg product in our freezer which is ready to use if we were to make french toast with cinnamon.
You can buy pre-made cartons of egg whites or whole eggs so don’t think you can’t freeze it because you can and when you defrost your eggs they taste just as delicious.
We’ve kept our eggs in the freezer for up to 6 months without any problems once we defrosted them.
The best part of having full meals ready in the freezer is that it keeps you away from eating meals you don’t really want to eat like take-out.
We always make broth when we have leftover bones from turkey or even chicken. That way we always have frozen Chicken or Beef broth ready to be used in the freezer for soups.
My wife uses plastic containers to freeze the broth but always leaves room at the top for expansion as it freezes.
It also helps the container refrain from cracking because if you over-fill it the product needs to go somewhere when it freezes. Hopefully not all over your freezer.
Just recently we made ricotta balls that we put in the freezer for the next time we want to make ricotta ball soup in a jiffy.
This is something my father-in-law does so I thought it would be great to mention. He is a food saver junkie and loves to vacuum seal all sorts including meat that he has marinated. He seasons the meat and adds in chunks of garlic and seals it shut.
The premise behind it is when the BBQ season is here all he needs to do now is defrost and get it on the grill. He doesn’t have to worry about marinating the meat in advance to get optimal flavour from it because he’s all prepared ahead of time. Smart thinking!
If you think the bags are too expensive to buy keep in mind how much meat you toss out because of freezer burn so the cost of the vacuum bags might end up being a great investment for you especially when you can find it on sale.
If you are like me and love to bake bread and make pizza then you should always double or triple your recipe so you can bag it and freeze it for the next time you need homemade dough. Smart thinking!!
Cooked Pasta and Rice
You know you can buy those frozen entrees at the grocery store which consist of rice and pasta meals so why not freeze extra pasta or rice that you make to use for a later meal.
All you have to do is buy some containers from the dollar store and fill them up with food that you can put in the oven to warm up or put on a plate to heat up in the microwave oven.
You can 100% freeze fresh pasta if you make extra. My wife’s grandmother always made her own fresh pasta and she would store it in the freezer on parchment paper until she wanted to make pasta.
Mrs. CBB says her pasta was always tender and delicious and the freezer kept the same texture and deep yellow colour as if it were made fresh that day.
If you have yogurt that is near expiry you can use it to bake if you don’t fancy eating it or you can easily freeze yogurt into the freezer to use in smoothies which we do all the time.
It’s a great way to thicken up your beverage without having to use lots of ice which can take away from the fresh flavours of a homemade smoothie.
This is a no-brainer and when we make our homemade pizza we make extra so we can wrap it and put it in the freezer for another night we are in the mood for pizza and beer.
Your grocery store is loaded with frozen pizzas which cost a fortune to buy so make them at home and freeze them because nothing is better than homemade.
If you like waffles, pancakes, french toast or even muffins you can easily make them ahead of time and freeze them on a tray flat then put them into freezer bags.
Breakfast will be ready in a flash. If you have a microwave oven or even the stove oven you can re-heat these frozen foods for a delicious meal. Now you can’t say you didn’t eat breakfast!
We don’t store much in terms of breakfast foods ourselves but we know that you can easily do this. Just look down the frozen food section of your grocery store to get an idea of what you can make at home and freeze.
We always have end pieces of bread that we don’t want to waste so into the freezer they go. When I have enough I whiz them up in the food processor and store the bread crumbs in a freezer bag and use as needed. Easy!
I read a while back that you could store yeast in the freezer whether you buy the packets or the jar and use it as you need it.
The reason is that keeping it in freezer allows you to use it past it’s expiry date because there’s nothing worse than yeast that doesn’t proof.
Freezing protects the yeast from oxygen and humidity and puts the yeast to sleep until you need it.
You will also find a mish-mash of bacon, sausages, beef and other bits and bobs in our freezer but you already know you can freeze that!
WOW, I didn’t think I would find that much in the freezer or think of this many products for that matter but I’m sure you can all help me add to this list. What am I missing? What other foods do you freeze in your freezer for later use?
January grocery game challenge posts
If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up for the month each week here in this section for you. Join in the Grocery Game Challenge fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each blog post… here are the GGC rules!
- Join The Grocery Game Challenge 2015: 2014 Overview and Final Shop Dec 29- Jan 4, 2015
- Why having a stockpile budget will save you money: #1 Jan 5-11, 2015
- How to select fresh food at the grocery store : #2 Jan 12-18, 2015
- How to control pantry pests in your kitchen: #3 Jan 19-25, 2015
Grocery Saving Tips
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Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.
I hope you take the time to get back on track and start the savings process in your grocery budget today.
Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE. CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet for FREE.
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Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide
If you are new here and haven’t had a chance to read past posts grab yourself a beverage, sit down, relax and enjoy some educational reading material on ways to save money in your grocery budget.
If you missed a Grocery Game Challenge post some of the most popular posts are listed below or you can now find the posts listed on their own page called The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email.
2015 Grocery shop results
If you are a foodie like I am you will enjoy going through my Free Recipe Index where recipes from CBB Home Chef Nicola Don and myself are shared every Sunday on the blog. Check it out!
Yearly grocery budget for two 2015: $2820
(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $240 per year or $25 per month.
- Primo Pasta $0.88
- Triscuit $1.88 (I got lovey dovey points for this one)
- Egg Noodles $0.88
- Smoked Bacon $2.98
- Reduced red peppers $1.09
- Strawberries $1.88
- Carrots $1.47
- Washed White Potatoes $3.47
- Bananas $1.72
- Avocado $4.40
- Ginger $1.60
- Green Peppers $5.84
- Red onions $1.88
- Pesto Garlic and Sun-dried tomato tortillas $3.00 each
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil $ 15.52 4 x $3.88 Sale
- 2 x sesame oil $3.99 (great price for the good stuff… normally almost $5.00 at Walmart)
- 3 x Coconut Astro Yogurt (forgot my coupons.. darn) $1.88 each
- 2x cucumbers $0.88
- Pineapple $1.88
- Savoy cabbage $1.66
- Roma tomatoes $1.15
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)
- Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $235.00
- Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
- Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $20.00
- Total Rewards Points used to date: $20.00
- PC Points Plus Earned to date: 9474
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
I reset this for 2015 to see earning potential.
- Snap Groupon to date: $ 0
- Zweet to date: $0.50
- Cart Smart to date: $0
- Checkout51 to date: $0
GROCERY SHOP THIS WEEK (add any other sections you need to show expenses and savings)
- Stockpile budget 2015 ($25.00): $25.00
- Stockpile budget used to date: $25.00
- Total coupons used this week: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $3.00
- Total in-store discounts this week: $0
- Total in-store discounts to date: $26.04
- Total spent this week: $71.56
- Total spent so far this month: $166.49
- Total over/Under spend this shop: $12.81 over
- Total over/Under spend for the month: $65.51 under
- Total left to spend for the month: $65.51
- Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $166.49
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts): We were sick for over a week so we didn’t buy too much this month. This month we’ve tried very hard to buy only what we need and to portion control what we are eating so we don’t spend more on food that just hangs around the house. We stocked up on oils as well because they were a great price and we were out of stock.
Oil is something we don’t mind stockpiling as we will use it up. I forgot my yogurt coupons this week which was a bummer but what can you do. I’ll have to figure out a system to make sure I don’t forget them next shop.
I paid a bit more for avocados, potatoes and peppers but I also got good quality products. Sometimes the avocados in those bags aren’t that great so I bought them individual which are also larger.
We are under for our first month of the GGC but that was expected since we also redeemed $20 in PC Plus points. Bring on February already.. wow!!
Get your shops posted!! I’m waiting. 🙂 Happy shopping everyone.
Did you find any coupons? If so share the details in the comment section of this post where you found it and what the coupon is for with expiry.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible.
- Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops only to win a monthly prize. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
- When does the Grocery Game close each month?: The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something that is scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it all together. Don’t let that be you! You can post your shops all month-long.
- Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?:
YesNo, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year so we can plan accordingly for our budget. We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any more. It’s just one way to help cut your budget to save money.
- Canadian Coupons: Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest Coupon Match-ups of the week and your weekly Checkout 51 offers from 25 Newspaper Inserts around Canada compliments of
Save Big Live Betterthat you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge.
- What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
- What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
- How Do I Know what stores accept coupons?: If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
- How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.
Over time you will gradually learn where you should and shouldn’t go in the grocery store or at least how to say no, I’m on a budget I need to buy this or that.
You may also substitute items in order to stick to your grocery budget to make it work. Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget like many people do.
This is why the grocery game challenge was created to not only show you that we are like everyone else but to bring us all together to work as a team to get our budgets on track.
If you have just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2015 get ready to dive deep into your grocery budget and learn just where you are spending, how much you are spending and what you are saving.
Feel free to read all the above posts that I linked to above which I feel are relevant to learning about the grocery budget and grocery shopping in general. If you are brave and want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!
You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!
Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2015!
Join in and become money savers and take control of your grocery budget.
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