Did you know that if you freeze kitchen scraps you can stretch your grocery dollars? You already know to double recipes and freeze half to make last-minute dinner preparation less of a nightmare. But ice cube trays can be just as helpful, too. Freezing cubes of these things and storing them in plastic bags or Mason jars will not just save money — it speeds up dinner prep as well.
Freeze Kitchen Scraps From…
- Tomato sauce or paste. Many times recipes don’t require the whole can. Instead of tossing it out, freeze what’s left and use it in future recipes.
- Leftover coffee or tea: Need to cool your hot beverage down quickly? Or maybe you just like iced coffee or tea? Freeze leftovers and use them in place of ice cubes. They won’t water down your beverage, but they’ll sure cool it fast.
- Soup stock or broth: You spent all day (or night) simmering your chicken or beef bones to make a nice, homemade stock for tonight’s dinner recipe, but now there’s just a bit left. Don’t toss it, freeze it. Next time you need just a bit of stock — maybe for a gravy — you’ll have some ready to go.
- Gravies and sauces: Speaking of gravy… if you ever have any left after a meal, freeze cubes of it. No, it won’t work as a gravy or sauce again (it’ll be too watery), but a few cubes of it can really enhance a pot of bubbling soup.
- Homemade baby food servings: One of the best ways to save money on baby food is by making your own from pureed, organic vegetables. Stockpile it for busy days by freezing it in ice cube trays. One to two cubes, defrosted, are perfectly serving sized for baby.
- Egg Whites: Many recipes call for only the yolk of the egg. Rather than toss the white out, freeze it then thaw when needed.
- Leftover wine: Now, we’ve never heard of such a thing in my house, but rumor has it that some people don’t always finish a bottle. (You know who you are.) Since wine goes bad rather quickly, freeze what’s left in cubes and add them to soups and sauces. (Red goes great in spaghetti and beef stew; white gives a nice zing to meals like piccata and scampi.)
- Mini popsicles: Give the kids (or yourself) a nice, cool treat with no added sugar. Just pour leftover juice, fruit puree or smoothies into an ice cube tray, cover tautly with plastic wrap, then poke toothpicks into each compartment. Once frozen, remove the plastic wrap, pop out your lolly and enjoy!
- Have fresh-tasting herbs year-round: One of the great things about summer is all the fresh herbs straight from the garden or farmer’s market. Unfortunately, they don’t keep fresh long… unless you know to chop them up and put them in ice cube trays with enough water to cover. Boom, you’ve got fresh-tasting herbs for soups and sauces year-round.
- Save summer pesto: I always make far too much pesto for one meal, or even a week of meals. Used to be, I’d cry as it went bad in my fridge. Not anymore, now that I know to freeze it in cubes. Come winter, a nice plate of pasta tossed with pesto brings a little summer cheer on even the coldest night.
- Roasted garlic: Like pesto, it seems my recipes never call for as much roasted garlic as I make. No worries. Now I just mash it up well in a bowl, tuck it into an ice cube tray, and freeze it for future use.
How To Use Your Kitchen Scraps In Recipes
2 cubes = 1/4 cup
4 cubes = 1/2 cup
6 cubes = 3/4 cup
8 cubes = 1 cup
And if your freezer came with a fancy ice maker instead of trays, don’t worry. We bought our set of 2 Rubbermaid ice cube trays, but you can always find some at Wal-Mart or even garage sales and second-hand stores, too.
A note about caring for ice cube trays: always wash them by hand in warm, soapy water to which you’ve added a little white vinegar for grease-cutting and odor removal. Dishwashers will ruin the slickness of the plastic, which will make it more difficult to get cubes out whole. After that happens, the tray will begin to crack and before long you’ll need a new one.