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52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Become Best Friends With Your Freezer {Week 12}

At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

I have saved a tremendous amount of money over the years by using just about every nook and cranny of my freezer space. I use my freezer to store extras of great marked-down deals I find at the grocery store. I use my freezer to freeze almost-expiring groceries (such as milk) so that I’m able to save it to use later. And, as you all well know, I use my freezer to bake and cook food to have on hand for busy days.

There’s no telling how much money I save thanks to my freezer, but it is well, well over $100 each year. For those of you who want to maximize the mileage of your freezer, here are some suggestions to get you started:

1. When In Doubt, Don’t Throw It Out

If you have almost-expiring milk or bread, instead of dumping or tossing it, freeze it. You can use the milk in pancakes or waffles and you can save the bread and when you have a bag of it, make homemade croutons.

Save the bits of meat and veggies and stick them in the freezer to make soup or homemade vegetable broth in the crockpot.

2. Check Your Freezer When Planning Your Menu

It’s important that you don’t just freeze stuff, but that you also regularly use the stuff in your freezer. Otherwise, it’s kind of pointless to mess with freezing things!

I consult my freezer when planning my menu as there are often things in there that I’ve forgotten I had. You can use the ingredient search feature on AllRecipes.com to help you find menu inspiration for what you already have on hand.

Brown Bag Burritos

3. Take An Hour Each Week to Prep Food For Your Freezer

Having food at-the-ready in my freezer has been such a huge help — and it’s saved us countless trips through the drive-thru lane, too. It’s not hard to make eating at home a priority when you already have food prepped in the freezer

If this idea sounds appealing but you can’t imagine finding a few hours in your schedule to actually pull off freezer cooking, consider just devoting 30 minutes to an hour on the weekends to baking and cooking ahead. Every little bit helps. (See some of my one-hour freezer cooking sessions here.)

You can also double meals you’re already making and serve one for dinner and stick the other in the freezer. It doesn’t take much more time now and will save you a lot of time later — , you won’t have to do dishes!

Do I Need to Get a Deep Freeze In Order to Save Money?

A deep freeze is wonderful, but I don’t recommend investing in one until you are absolutely sure you will use it. Use every single inch of your over-the-fridge first before looking to invest in a deep freeze.

And by the way, you can fit a lot into your over-the-fridge freezer. Here’s picture proof. Also, if you freeze things flat in freezer bags, you can turn them sideways and store them like file folders to save space

Does the Cost of Running a Freezer Outweigh the Savings?

Trent from The Simple Dollar did extensive analysis and he concluded that . So in order to actually save money with a deep freeze and make it worth it, be sure you’re saving at least $25 per month by running your deep freeze. If it’s primarily empty, move what’s in it to your over-the-fridge freezer and unplug it!

Simple Things You Can Prep Ahead and Stick in the Freezer

Bananas

We peel, chop, and freeze bananas that are too ripe to use in smoothies. You can also peel them and freeze them whole to use in banana bread or muffins.

Frozen Carrots

Shredded Carrots

If you make carrot muffins on a regular basis, it’s much more efficient to shred a big batch of shredded carrots all at once. Just divide into one-cup baggies and store in a freezer bag to use as needed.

Chicken

Cooking up chicken and then chopping and freezing it can save you a lot of time in meal preparation later. I like to bake my chicken breasts, as they seem to be a lot more moist that way. You can see how I do it here.

You can use the chopped chicken in homemade pizza, chicken casseroles, to sprinkle on salads, to throw into soups, or to just eat plain–as my children love to do!

Ground Beef

Having pre-browned ground beef in the freezer to stick in soups, on pizza, or put in casseroles is a big time-saver. Or, you can do what I often do and go ahead and just add onions, beans, and taco seasoning to the meat to make taco meat. You can always use the taco meat in soups or chili, if need be.

Baking Mixes

Do you make pancakes, waffles, or muffins on a regular basis? Save yourself some of the prep time by mixing up a quadruple batch of the dry ingredients and then portioning them into freezer bags.

Freezer-Friendly Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookie Dough

Most cookie doughs can be made ahead and then frozen for later use. You can rolls the dough into balls to freeze, freeze it in logs, or freeze the dough in a tub and scoop it out to use. The only issue is that you might want to hide it at the bottom of the freezer–especially if you actually want to be able to make any Chocolate Chip Cookies with the dough! 🙂

Recommended Freezer Cooking Links:

Crockpot Freezer Cooking Recipes

9 Tips to Simplify Freezer Cooking

A Beginner’s Guide to Freezer Cooking

Freezer Cooking in an Hour Recipes & Pictures

4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer

Some of My Favorite Freezer Cooking Recipes

Do you have a deep freeze? How do you save money by using your freezer?

Other posts in the 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year series

  1. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 This Year: Bake Your Own Bread (Week #1)
  2. 52 Ways to Save at Least $100 This Year: Make Your Own Coffee at Home (Week #2)
  3. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Ditch Your Cable Package {Week 3}
  4. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Order Prescription Glasses Online {Week 4}
  5. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Cleaners {Week 5}
  6. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Mixes {Week 6}
  7. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Become a One-Car Family {Week 7}
  8. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Surround Yourself With Frugal Friends {Week 8}
  9. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 a Year: Eliminate Disposable Products {Week 9}
  10. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 a Year: Cut Your Own Hair {Week 10}
  11. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Use Cloth Diapers {Week 11}
  12. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Become Best Friends With Your Freezer {Week 12}
  13. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Rent Movies for FREE {Week 13}
  14. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Ask for a Discount {Week 14}
  15. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Cancel Your Gym Membership {Week 15}
  16. 52 Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Get the Best Bang for Your Buck at Yard Sales {Week 16}
  17. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Grow Some Of Your Food {Week 17}
  18. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Cut Back on the Soda Pop Habit {Week 18}
  19. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Buy in Bulk {Week 19}
  20. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Price-Match at Walmart {Week 20}
  21. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Ditch Your Landline {Week 21}
  22. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Refinance Your Mortgage {Week 22}
  23. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Follow a Local Deal Blogger {Week 23}
  24. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Use a Coupon Database {Week 24}
  25. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Plan a Weekly Menu {Week 25}
  26. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Strategically Use Daily Deal Sites {Week 26}
  27. 52 Different Ways to Save At Least $100 Per Year: Shop at Aldi {Week 27}
  28. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Buy Used Books {Week 28)
  29. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Buy Used Clothing {Week 29}
  30. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Shop With Cash {Week 30}
  31. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat Less Meat {Week 31}
  32. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Is this really a good deal? {Week 32}
  33. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: 3 Ways to Save on Online Orders {Week 33}
  34. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Turn Your Clutter Into Cash {Week 34}
  35. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Get Organized {Week 35}
  36. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Have an All-Cash Christmas {Week 36}
  37. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Sign Up for Swagbucks {Week 37}
  38. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Cut Your Fuel Costs {Week 38}
  39. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Frequent the Library {Week 39}
  40. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Simplify Birthday Parties {Week 40}
  41. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Brown Bag It {Week 41}
  42. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Snacks {Week 42}
  43. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Use a Programmable Thermostat {Week 43}
  44. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Limit Eating Out {Week 44}
  45. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Get a Bang for Your Buck on Travel Expenses {Week 45}
  46. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Don't Pay For Pre-Made Baby Food {Week 46}
  47. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat More Beans {Week 47}
  48. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Homemade Cards {Week 48}
  49. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Shop At More Than One Store {Week 49}
  50. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat From the Pantry {Week 50}
  51. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Stay Home More {Week 51}
  52. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Develop Contentment {Week 52}

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77 Comments

  • says:

    My freezer has been my best friend lately! I don’t have a deep freeze, but I have a stand up freezer in the garage, and it’s been wonderful (except the time it defrosted on it’s own and I had to toss everything.) I save money by buying on sale, making big batches, and shopping from the freezer first.

    My favorite things to freeze:
    Soups (any kind, except creamy soups, work well): I have no fewer than 5 varieties in my freezer at all times. I take them out the night before for quick lunches for my husband to take to work.

    Meatballs: SO many things to do with meatballs. One of my most popular posts is my 10 favorite things to do with meatballs. My favorite right now–meatball pizza.

    Spaghetti Sauce: Super simple and super versatile.

  • Kaycee says:

    When you buy fresh herbs, pull the extra off the stems and freeze it for later. I have used $1.50 of fresh organic thyme in 7 different recipes. Before I was inspired by seeing freeze dried herbs at the store I would just throw what I didn’t need away and buy new fresh herbs as needed. Now I save all of my fresh herbs and freeze them to use later. I save well over $100 a year just from this alone!

    • says:

      Kaycee, if you bought a few potted herbs at the nursery and grew them in a little pot, you could just cut off what you need and save even more money that way. A plant is $2.49 at my local nursery; yours may be even less. Many plants are perennials and will return year after year for you. This would give you what you need immediately for a recipe (versus growing from seed) and still give you plenty for many meals throughout the year.

      • Kaycee says:

        A green thumb instead of black one would be priceless. LOL

        • says:

          Kaycee, that’s why you start with plants 🙂 Even if you did kill them, you would get at least an equal amount to what you buy in fresh herbs.

          It takes practice, and even seasoned gardeners have difficulties, but I used to have a black thumb, too. Now I have a beautiful garden and I’m teaching other people how to garden at my house this Saturday 🙂

      • says:

        Thank you for mentioning this! I’ve been meaning to get some potted herbs for the kitchen windowsill.

    • Kim says:

      You can also purchase a packet of herb seeds at WalMart for $1 each. I plan on starting basil, parsley, & dill from seed this week. I’ve been saving used eggs shells.

      I put a little starter mix in each egg shell half, put a seed in, cover with 1/4″ soil mix, & water them initially. Then I put the egg shell halves back in the egg carton, which I’ve cut the lid off where the eggs sit. (I sit the egg tray on top of the lid, so the lid catches any overflow of water.) I mist them with a spray bottle of water every day until they sprout, then water as needed. These trays fit perfectly in my narrow window sills until they are ready to go outside to harden.

      When it’s time to plant, I plant the egg shell pot with the plant in it & cover it with dirt. The egg shell adds a little calcium to your soil. You can squeeze the egg shell between your fingers to crack it when you go to plant them. That will make it easier for the roots to grow through it. I’ve also started plants in cardboard egg cartons, then just cut the sections apart & planted the carton with the plant in it. The cardboard will decompose & nourish the soil.

      • BetsyD says:

        Love this idea. Question from an beginner herb grower: what is starter mix? Can you just use potting soil?

        • Kim says:

          I’d use whatever you have, either from a bag or just go outside & get some dirt. Starter mixes are lighter for the seed sprout to push through. I’ve started seeds outside in the ground before too–they just take longer to sprout. Here’s an organic starter mix recipe you can make if you want:

          When you go to plant in a pot, I’d get a potting mix at WalMart or wherever, so the soil has more nutrients. If planting outside in the ground, I’d mix in compost or manure, as that will feed the plant. Nitrogen is what makes the leaves grow lush & most herbs are used for their leaves. Compost & manure have lots of nitrogen in them.

          Most herbs like a lot of sun. I had some chives, parsley, & sage plants in part sun & some in nearly full sun last year. The ones in full sun grew much faster & were much larger. Garlic will not grow in a pot. My chives come up every year & divide very well. My sage comes up every year for 3 years, then it tends to die. I plant basil, parsley, & dill every year. Last year was my first year for rosemary, so I have to wait & see if it will come back. I’ve been told that rosemary is very difficult to grow from seed, so started it with a small plant.

        • Kim says:

          And herbs in pots will be smaller than herbs planted outside in the ground.

      • lyss says:

        What a cool idea! Sounds so simple! I’m wondering, too, what you mean by “starter mix” and “soil mix”. Do I have to buy 2 different kinds of dirt? Yeah, I’m a gardening novice, too. lol

        • Kim says:

          Starter mix is lighter for the seed sprouts to push through easier. You can use either. Read my response to Betsy above. Happy gardening! 🙂

          • BetsyD says:

            Thank you so much for these helpful tips. I’ll try this. I grew basil last year, but the leaves never grew very big….and then I heard that manure helps it grow better. Will try this year. I’ve always grown Rosemary– from a plant not seeds. It does come back the next year. You just have to watch it and cut it back b/c it can overtake your flower bed! Thank you, Kim, for all the helpful tips. Will look into all of this. Love fresh herbs!

  • says:

    We have a deep freezer and save money by freezer cooking, buying 1/2 side of beef in bulk, and freezing garden sur during the summer months.

    Great post and good ideas for ways to save money!

  • says:

    I use my freezers to freeze turkeys and hams to eat throughout the year (Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving are great times to stock up on these meats all below $1 a pound). Whole turkey is good for 12+ months in the freezer, and cooked is great for 3+ months. I also look for whole chickens under .70 a pound when they go on sale throughout the year.

    I also use my freezer to freeze produce. When I found broccoli crowns for .68 a pound, I stocked up on them, and blanched and froze them.

    I froze 60 bell peppers that I bought for .10 each (and then sliced and froze on silicone baking mats on cookie sheets, and then moved to freezer bags afterwards. I can use them for fajitas, stir fry, and more.

    I freeze apricots, plums, and figs from my trees in the garden.

    I have also stocked up on frozen peas when they were on sale at Thanksgiving. Those fit nicely around the big items (turkeys and hams).

    • Crystal says:

      Excellent tips, as usual. 🙂

      • says:

        Agreed. The only thing that my husband requested was less turkey. 😉 Apparently he grew up eating turkey ALL the time, and now only eats it on Thanksgiving, when it’s obligatory. 😉

        Otherwise, Brandy and Crystal, you two have supported me so much in this frugality walk (I was frugal before, now I’m actually wise, I think)…thank you. 🙂

  • Marie says:

    It’s funny I was just thinking about a freezer post today! My mother in law is coming and there are two breakfast recipes I always make ahead when we have company. One is an egg/sausage/pepper dish that is super yummy!! my kids don’t care for cooked peppers so I just make 1/2 of the dish without peppers and the other half with.
    The other dish is a baked French toast casserole that my kids ask for weekly!!! Also I made it for a friend who just had a baby and now 3 other friends have asked for it it gets requested for church functions!!! It’s super yummy and so easy and freezes and reheats awesome!!! And I’ve even found a trick for it. It calls for French bread but I save all my ends of bread and other bread and use that!!! It tastes just as yummy!! So tomorrow we will be having French toast casserole!
    Like Prudent Homemaker mentioned peppers freeze great for fajita’s and stir fry. When Aldi’s has the multi colored 3pk of peppers for $1.29 I buy 5-6 packs and dice or cut them and freeze them.

    • Tracy says:

      Hey Marie, please share your blog. I would love to know the French Toast casserole recipe. I have an egg sausage casserole recipe that my family loves. Even my 18 month old twin boys, gobble it up.

      • Marie says:

        My b/g twins just turned 6 yesterday! I remember how active they were at 18months!
        I don’t have a blog but here is the French Toast Casserole recipe:
        1 loaf crusty sourdough or French bread
        8 whole eggs
        2 cups milk
        1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
        3/4 cup sugar
        2 TBS vanilla

        Topping:
        1/2 cup flour
        1/2 cup packed brown sugar
        1 tsp. cinnamon
        1/4 tsp. salt
        1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces

        Grease 9×13 pan with butter. Cut bread into cubed size pieces and evenly distribute in pan. Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread.
        In separate bowl mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add butter pieces and cut into dry mixture until it resembles small pebbles.
        Pour topping onto casserole and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

        I use tin pans from the Dollar Tree when making it ahead to freeze. I also will put a piece of syran wrap over it and then the tin foil to seal it. Just remove the syran wrap before heating it up again.

      • Marie says:

        ok I’ll try again. I just posted the recipe but it’s not here.
        1 loaf crusty sourdough bread or French bread
        8 whole eggs
        2 cups milk
        1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
        3/4 cups sugar
        2 TBS vanilla

        Topping:
        1/2 cup flour
        1/2 cup packed brown sugar
        1 tsp. cinnamon
        1/4 tsp. salt
        1 stick cold butter cut into pieces

        Grease 9×13 pan with butter. Cut bread into cubed pieces and distribute evenly in pan. Mix eggs, milk, cream, sugar and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread.
        In separate bowl mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add butter pieces and cut butter into dry ingredients until pebble like mixture. Pour over entire pan.
        Bake at 350 for one hour.

    • says:

      I would love to have both recipes you mentioned- they sound delicious!

      • Marie says:

        1 lb. sausage
        2 slices of bread, cut into cubes
        1/2- 3/4 cup of green and red peppers
        1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
        6 eggs
        2 cups milk
        1/2 tsp. salt
        1/2 tsp. dry mustard

        Heat oven to 350F. Crumble and cook sausage until browned. Drain. Spread bread in greased 11×7 pan. top with sausage, peppers and cheese. Whisk eggs, milk, salt and mustard until well blended. Pour over cheese. Bake 30-40 minutes or until set.

  • says:

    I now have 20 different meals you can prep and freeze to cook in your crock pot. Take 1 hour, make 1 mess and get 5 crock pot freezer meals!

  • says:

    I have been doing my own Freezer cooking in an hour once or twice a week, and it has been so helpful! I work 10 hour shifts, so it is great to have something to pull out of the freezer those days for dinner. I make spaghetti sauce, meatballs, stuffed shells (Italian and Mexican), lasagna, chili, stroganoff (with ground beef and stew meat), waffles, pancakes, stuffed zucchini boats, zucchini breads, bbq pork, salsa chicken, apple sauce, taco meat, I could go on forever. I used to do a freezer cooking day on a weekend, but doing a little every week it a lot easier. Thank you for all the great ideas!

  • Ashley says:

    Other than time, is there a reason to freeze meat cooked rather than raw? I freeze all my chicken and ground beef raw because I never know what I’m going to turn it into…

    • dawn says:

      I do it to simplify making soup, spaghetti, almost anything. As well as the clean up- no raw meat. And yes it makes meal prep quicker.

    • Crystal says:

      I find it makes it so much easier to make homemade pizza or tacos, etc. if the meat is already done — as that’s usually the step that takes the longest.

    • WilliamB says:

      Raw will last longer in the freezer before it starts tasting stale, cooked saves you more time when it’s time to cook.

      BTW, food in the freezer doesn’t become unhealthy to eat (unless it defrosts), but the taste and texture will deteriorate over time.

  • says:

    We had a deep freeze before our cross-country move; I used it store breastmilk after having my son. While using it for that didn’t save us any money, it sure did for the three families that we donated over 1000 ounces to.

    Now, I try to double our supper recipe every now and then to stick the extra in the freezer. And we love our frozen cookie dough!

    • lyss says:

      Bless you for donating breastmilk! Thankfully, I was able to pump enough for my preemie son, but I know they use a lot of donated milk in the NICU. I greatly admire those who will voluntarily pump for others…I was so ready to be done pumping when my son weaned!

  • says:

    I have done a lot of freezer cooking lately to help save money and have healthier meals when our baby is here in a few weeks. I made a variety of crockpot bags (everything except for canned goods and broth) and wrote the directions on the bag and stuck it in the freezer. I also made homemade veggie meatballs, veggie meatloaf, broccoli biscuit cups, mac and cheese muffins, and more. We just have a small freezer above our fridge area but we try to use it well!

  • dawn says:

    So thankful for our freezer. I cook up a huge pot of dry beans and freeze them flat in ziplocs. Any fruits or veggies that are going to go bad I freeze for smoothies or meals. I’ll freeze leftover soup in containers for quick meals. Hunting is our meat source so the big freeze is essential for us to keep a year’s worth of meat. When we grind burger, I try to make a few meatloaf and several batches of meatballs to freeze raw ready to cook. Also cook up a triple batch of spaghetti/meat sauce and freeze flat in ziplocs, as well as cook a large pan of ground meat to freeze in recipe size portions to use in soup, chili, sloppy joe, tacos, etc… I take some meat and form into burger patties, put wax paper between them and freeze in bags. This way I can pry them apart and throw on the grill frozen and they are so much better then the nasty ones from the store.

  • says:

    I love having an extra freezer to store foods. As we get ready for baby number 2, it will come in handy. I’ve made quite a few things from your recipe list and love having them in the freezer, especially cookies!
    Yesterday, I made Laura’s (from Heavenly Homemakers) quick baking mix and it’s a fantastic recipe to have in the freezer. 🙂

  • says:

    Lots of great ideas here! I haven’t started freezer cooking (even though I realize what a huge time and money saver it will be) yet because I’m not sure what freezes well and what doesn’t. I think I will start off with a dish or two a week… 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Starting off with a dish or two sounds like a great plan!

    • Chris says:

      Stephanie, I wasn’t sure what to freeze in the beginning either, but I’ve found a little experimentation goes a long way. For single ingredients you’re unsure about try googling “can I freeze _____”. You’ll find lots of helpful advice from people who have already tried it! That’s how I learned I can freeze onions and mushrooms when Aldi has them at rock bottom prices. What I do for a prepared dish like a casserole that I am unsure about is this…. The first time I fix that particular meal I just save a cup or two in a small container and freeze that. If it’s a success, it’s enough food for a single serving. If it’s a failure, I haven’t wasted an entire casserole by experimenting.

    • Kim says:

      You can look at frozen dinners at the grocery store for ideas for freezer meals too. Then just google for recipes to try.

  • Amy says:

    How do you keep your foods from getting freezer burned?

    • WilliamB says:

      Some hints. This looks like a lot but it comes down to: keep out air, keep out light, keep the temperature constant.

      * Cool thoroughly *before* wrapping and freezing. This has the added benefit of improving the texture as well.

      * Wrap really, really tightly. To be really sure, wrap first in something oven safe, such as tin foil (but be careful with acid foods such as tomatoes, the acid can eat away the tin foil), then in something that keeps out air such as *good* saran wrap or a ziploc bag. And not a ziploc with a zipper gadget, either – those let in a little air around the gadget.

      * No air in the wrapping. If you’re using a bag, use a straw to suck out the air as you close it.

      * If possible, keep the light out. Either wrap in something dark (like tin foil or butcher paper), or unscrew the light in the freezer.

      * Don’t let the temperature change much. Self-defrosting freezers lead to a lot of freezer burn because they defrost by getting warmer to get the frost to sublimate, then colder again. Better – and cheaper! – get a non-self-defrosting freezer. By the same token, don’t let the door stay open any longer than strictly necessary.

  • Amanda L says:

    I love that we have a freezer now that we are in a home. We are able to buy half a cow from a local farmer. We get organic, grass fed beef for less than the stores are charging for lower quality meat.

    I freeze soup and chili all the time. If I’m going through the effort to make a pot, I make a huge one and freeze it.

    I love to make up large batches of meatballs at once and have them on hand for quick meals.

    I am going to stock up this week on a great cheese deal at one of our local chains. I can freeze the shredded or blocks of cheese for months until another great deal pops up. This is also true for deals on things like frozen veggies or clearance meats at the store. I can stock up when I get great deals on these items. I used to miss out because we didn’t have much freezer space.

    I make our own pasta sauce in the crockpot using low price canned tomatoes. It is much cheaper than most store bought and takes little effort on my part.

    I am also getting ready to stock the freezer with some pre-cooked proteins and meals for the arrival of baby #2. This will prevent us from eating out as much. We ate out a ton with my first because we were exhausted and didn’t have much space in our tiny apartment freezer to get things ready.

  • says:

    I will have to try out freezer cooking. I am taking the month of April to get my kitchen and meal plans and grocery budget on track. This is definitely something I will have to add in to my routine.

    Those cookies look yummy!

    Kate

  • Carolyn Chamberlain says:

    I use my freezers for everything. When I find ground beef at a low price I will make meatloaf, meatballs, salsbury steak, and burgers and stick them in the freezer, and then add it to my menu. I also go ahead and cook and divide into portions for meals. I also do this with chicken. My husband works in his car all day and likes to eat healthy lunches when he can’t make it home. Healthy deli meat is expensive to buy, so when I find whole turkeys for a very low price (usually after Thanksgiving) I will roast it and then slice it up for sandwiches for his lunches. I have also done this with ham when I find it cheap. On occasion my Kroger has manager’s specials on packaged lunchmeat and I will buy it and put it in portion containers and then in freezer bags and freeze.

  • says:

    We have a chest freezer that someone blessed us with (new!). It is energy star rated, and I believe that the information we got with the freezer is that it costs approximately $50/year to run.

    I need to get better at utilizing my freezer. I do to a certain extent but I know I could do so much better! Especially now, it is almost empty (so I’m sure it costs more to run).

    I like to buy ground beef on sale and cook it all up with onions and garlic. Last time I also added some shredded carrots. Almost all my recipes use cooked ground beef (I don’t make things like meatloaf or meatballs very often), so this is a HUGE time saver.

    • WilliamB says:

      It does cost more to run. The usual suggestion is to freeze jugs of water. But since water expands when it freezes don’t fill the jugs more than about 75% full.

  • says:

    I love this! Thanks for all the freezer cooking encouragement! I am getting better at it and loving it.
    Not sure how true this is, but our electrician made it sound like it was a couple dollars at most each month for a deep freeze because they don’t use a lot of electricity. The real drains are things like hair dryers. Just what I’ve heard! I haven’t researched myself.

    • Crystal says:

      I’m wondering if the prices vary because I did think that price sounded high. However, Trent is usually extremely thorough in his research.

      • Stephanie says:

        I looked at Trent’s blog. His $11/mo estimate included not just the electricity to run, but also the cost of buying the freezer itself and spreading that cost over the estimated 8 year useful life of the freezer. This is a conservative amount because you may be able to use the freezer more than 8 years. Also, his post was written in 2007 and I’m sure freezers are even more energy efficient now than they were then.

  • Ashley Blank says:

    How do you reheat a lot of your freezer meals? My husband and I are trying to avoid using the microwave wherever possible. If you reheat them in the oven, do you find that the meals/meats dry out since they are previously cooked?

  • says:

    Oh amen!

    I ran into this problem last night. I’m on my 10th (TENTH!!! UGH!) episode of Bronchitis this winter. I’m tired, run down, and frankly….really sick of cooking for my family. I just felt like utter garbage last night and ended up texting my husband begging for some hot and sour soup and vegetable curry (to get stuff moving in us all since we’re all kind of snotty) for dinner. It was $25 only (which is a steal for take out), but really, that $25 could have been used for a bill payment, savings, etc.

    I know once spring FINALLY hits Wisconsin, we’ll all be on the mend, and I’ll get my groove back. I need to get more MEALS (I have lots of FOOD in there now) in the freezer – my husband cannot really cook, especially for the day I work late – it’s really ideal; a friend of mine and I trade time for baby sitting. She works two days a week and I watch her kiddos, then the two days I need coverage for mine, she’s there for me. It’s awesome…and frugal!!!

    Anyway…I should really get some more soup in the freezer, as well as mini lunchmeat rollups for kids’ preschool lunches, some veggie quiches (if you make them in muffin tins they work really well!), meatballs, and even a casserole or two.

    I keep telling myself, to everything there is a season….and right now we just need to survive this one. Heheh. 🙂

  • says:

    My husband is a hunter. This is how we save the most money with our freezer. I freeze yogurt in ice cubes for smoothies. I also freeze fruits that we will not be able to eat in time and the fruit and juice leftovers from canned fruits, makes quick smoothies. I cook the whole bag of rice and portion and freeze. Veggie scraps go into the freezer for broth.
    One of the biggest money savers is making lunches for my husband. He works on the road so he needs meals that will fit on the dash to be heated by the defroster. At over $5 a meal for fast food we are easily saving over $100 a month!

  • Malinda says:

    I have a question how do you get your bananans to last in the freezer? I have tried this twice and the end up turning brown and smell funny, so I end up tossing… or are they suppose to look like this? They are not brown when I cut them up and put them in the freezer bag…

    • Crystal says:

      They may turn a little brown, but they should be totally fine in a smoothie or baked goods so long as you’ve sealed the bag well and they’ve not been in there for longer than 6-8 weeks.

    • Chris says:

      Malinda, if you have the space in your freezer to do this try freezing them still in the skins. I just toss mine in there whole and unpeeled. The skin turns black, but the banana inside stays nice and yellow, and I don’t waste any freezer bags this way!

  • says:

    This is one I would do even if it didn’t save me a cent! I do have a deep freeze, and I love it. I freeze anything I can think of: produce, meals, cooked meat, leftovers in lunch sized portions, quick breads already sliced and wrapped individually, and a bunch of other things.

    I actually just posted my freezer cooking list for the month of April if anyone is interested:

  • says:

    I just did my very first freezer cooking session yesterday! I made a double batch of pizza dough (enough for 4 pizzas), a batch of taco meat, a double batch of beef burritos, and a double batch of chicken fajitas! We’ve gotten into the bad habit of eating out on nights we’re too lazy to cook, so I’m hoping this will help us stay in!

  • says:

    I see you cook up ground beef and freeze it. I have done it 3 times now and each time I thought the meat tasted yucky after defrosting….I would not eat it. I cooled it before freezing, got all the air out possible and double bagged. Other insights?

    • says:

      I’ve never had that problem, but I generally cook my hamburger to use in casseroles – or season it for tacos – so there is that extra flavor, too. I cook mine with a bit of onion to flavor it, too. Maybe that would help?

  • says:

    I love my freezer! I try to do double batches when I’m baking to have meals on hand, because that is such a time saver. I always have cheese in my freezer – and chocolate chips! I also cook my hamburger meat and dice my chicken to store in the freezer, because I can throw together a meal so quickly if I know the meat is cooked. Plus, I try to keep a batch of cookies (already cooked) in the freezer so I can entertain quickly for surprise company.

  • says:

    My freezer keeps me from wasting SO much food ‘stuff’.

    I’m able to make bone broth and freeze it.
    I also keep broths from ham to flavor soups, veggies, etc.
    Sometimes I store fat drippings to flavor veggies later.
    I often get free fat and render it to make lard/tallow, and freeze.
    I use skins from chicken to make ‘pupsicles’ for the outdoor dogs in summer.
    I keep tops, skins, etc from onions, celery, carrots, etc to throw into bone or veggie broth.
    I keep a bucket for leftover veggies and one for meat to make a soup when they’re full.
    (Even grains such as cooked rice, barley, wheat, millet, etc can be done the same way.)
    I use (like the PH) juices from cans of fruits etc and old fruit to puree for popsicles.
    I also use bits of leftover puddings etc for pops as well.
    Stale bread makes bread crumbs that get frozen.

    All of that (and more!) would be “waste” without my good ole freezer(s)!

    The freezer(s) also allow me to shop less frequently and store up when things are at their lowest price. For example, 100lbs of meat for $130

    I’ve also bought (in the past when they USED TO BE on sale) bigger cuts of meat such as roasts and cut them up myself for stir-fries, stew, etc and even ground some up when it ran cheaper than the ground beef.

    <3 My freezers!

  • Andrea says:

    I never pay full price for meat–buy on sale and freeze.

    Freeze your extra ginger (after peeling)–much easier to grated than fresh.

    Make freezer jam–much less sugar and tasty on sandwiches as well as pancakes.

    Cook big pot of beans and freeze in containers that measure same amount as canned–less salt and cheap.

    Put chicken bones with bits of carrot, celery and onions (use parts you won’t eat)–throw in pot and make stock for soups. (Just did this–got 8 rotisserie that were on clearance and had rebate–ended up making $4 on them–took chicken off and froze and put bones in bags for stock.)

    Freeze extra tomato paste, stock, etc in ice cube tray–once frozen put in ziploc. Ice cubes are about 2 TBSP.

    If going on trip freeze your milk in freeze so it won’t go bad–freeze in small containers if you need to defrost fast.

    • Laura says:

      What size freezer do you think is ideal? We are a family of four.

      • Andrea says:

        I have a family of 5–we have (I think) 25 cubic ft stand up freezer. What ever you have you will use. I always think I need more space but reality I have plenty. I used to freeze soups in ziplocs but now I mostly make soup and put them in mason jars in frig. We eat so much soup I feel like it is easy to make soup when I make stock. I put the extra stock in frig. and make more soup throughout the week.

  • says:

    I never imagined squeezing a chest freezer into our teeny basement apartment, but then my parents gave us one for Christmas! They’re dairy farmers and we asked if the next time they butchered a steer if we could buy a quarter–hence the gift.

    They refused to let us pay for the meat beyond the processing, so for $109 in processing, we have 200 pounds of burger, roasts, steaks, and soup bones! Definitely worth the cost of running the freezer (which is just a little 5 cubic foot one that supposed to cost $2-3/month to run)!

  • WilliamB says:

    I use my deep freezer to defray the cost of buying humanely raised pastured meat. It’s much less expensive – I can’t call it “cheap” – to buy this meat in bulk – 1/4 or more of a beef, 1/2 or whole of a pork (it doesn’t arrive in one piece, thank goodness! it comes butchered, labeled, and shrink-wrapped).

    It was a multi-step process. First I had to find a place within 90 min of where I lived, having determined that was as far as I was willing to drive to pick up the meat. Then I went through the process once to see if buying this way suited me. For one thing, you have to be willing to cook the less common parts. For another, you have to be able to keep track of what you have.

    Once I determined that I could manage buying meat in bulk, only then did I buy a deep freezer. I keep other foods in it – such as the things Crystal mentions – but my real justification for buying the freezer is the humanely raised, pastured meat.

  • Jill says:

    How do you keep track of what is in your freezer. Our freezer is not that big so things are stuffed in there and get lost in there.

    • Courtney says:

      I keep a whiteboard on the door to the basement. I make note of what I put in it, and then erase when I take it out. I used to just use a yellow pad for this.
      I also am to look at what’s on the list when I menu plan, and if (like right now) I’ve slacked on the list I’ll take some time to go down, look and make my list. I’m always better at keeping my list up to date after I have to spend time doing it the long way.

  • Courtney says:

    We are a family of three, so when I can’t pawn off baked good extras on others I freeze them. I love having little squares of brownie in the freezer for that chocolate fix, and to crumble on ice cream. During the summer I like to double my bread recipe and freeze the extra loaves. This saves a week of heating the oven.

  • MomOnTheRun says:

    I just found split chicken breasts at the store today for .99/lb. I bought 20 pounds. Half is in the oven roasting, 2 are in the crock pot (these breasts are huge)! I’ll be making chicken enchiladas, chicken pockets, kung pao chicken, general tso chicken, blackened cajun chicken, chicken lo mein, bbq chicken, and bacon wrapped chicken balls. That should feed our family of 6 for the next week. I cook and freeze everything cuz it fits better that way in my freezer, and the kids (teens) can pick what they want for dinner.

    I do the same with ground beef. Tacos, enchiladas, meatloaf, beef stroganoff, Spicy Thai Lop, spaghetti sauce, meatballs, patties…

    I’ll be “trying” a garden for the first time ever. I do have a black thumb, but hoping SOMETHING besides poison ivy grows in my back yard. Now I’ll have to learn how to can veggies. That’s a whole other ballgame!

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