Your freezer is one of the most underrated kitchen tools, says David Lee, cofounder and executive chef of Planta restaurants in Miami and Toronto. It can help you jump-start dinner, take advantage of sales, reduce waste and spoilage, and always have ingredients on hand. Try keeping these unexpected items in the freezer. It’s a game changer!


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  • item 1 of Gallery image half an avocado frozen into an ice cubePHOTO BY: ROST-9D/GETTY1. AvocadosSlice in half, peel and remove the pit. Brush the avocado halves with lemon juice and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. Add them to a freezer-safe bag, then press out the air before sealing and freezing. Thaw, then mash into guacamole.
  • item 2 of Gallery image sliced citrus fruits frozen in ice pack shapesPHOTO BY: IMAGE SOURCE/GETTY2. Lemon or orange slices
    Freeze them in a glass container. Defrost them for eating or cooking (such as adding them to a sheet pan dinner or stuffing them inside a chicken), suggests Palak Patel, chef at the Institute of Culinary Education.
  • item 3 of Gallery image milk that was frozen in ice cube trays PHOTO BY: QWART/GETTY3. MilkPour it into a container with enough room for the liquid to expand. The milk will appear curdled when you defrost it (but taste OK), so it’s best used for baking, Patel says. Or use the thawed milk to make homemade buttermilk, blending it with a touch of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
  • item 4 of Gallery image frozen udon noodlePHOTO BY: AHIRAO_PHOTO/GETTY4. PastaSpeed up dinner prep by defrosting frozen partially cooked pasta. Undercook it by a few minutes, then rinse it with cold water, Patel recommends. When it’s cool, toss it with a little oil, spread it on a baking sheet and freeze it for a few hours before transferring it to a bag. Ready to eat it? Finish cooking it in sauce.
  • item 5 of Gallery image hard cheese grated and placed in the freezer in a baggiePHOTO BY: QWART/GETTY5. CheeseHarder kinds of cheese, such as aged cheddars or Parmesan, withstand freezing better than soft ones, says Joe Baird, cheesemonger and culinary consultant for Real California Milk. Keep the cheese whole, in its original wrapping, and place it inside a freezer bag near the front of the freezer.
  • item 6 of Gallery image fresh herbs parsley and chives frozen in ice cubesPHOTO BY: IMAGE SOURCE/GETTY6. Fresh herbsDon’t let excess parsley or basil go to waste. Blend it with olive oil or water, then freeze in an ice cube tray, notes Mario Garcia, executive chef with Hilton Chicago. Stir the frozen cubes into sauces.
  • item 7 of Gallery image leafy greens chopped and frozen in ice cube traysPHOTO BY: QWART/GETTY7. Leafy greensSteam spinach or kale until it’s completely wilted, then allow it to cool. Freeze up to 1 pound at a time in a sealed bag, Lee says. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it in the fridge overnight; reheat the greens in the oven after tossing them with olive oil, salt and pepper.

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The Right Way to Freeze Fresh Food for Later

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