Most people have a money-saving machine right in their homes that they may be unaware of. It’s the freezer! Did you know that your freezer isn’t just for storing ice and frozen convenience foods, but it can actually save you a lot of time in the kitchen and save you money in your grocery budget? Here are some tips for using your freezer to save time and money.
Using Your Freezer to Save Time and Money
Do freezer cooking
This is a simple concept that involves taking a couple of hours each week and doing as much prep work as you can for several meals for that week. This is perfect for you if you are busy and especially if you like to use your slow cooker. This saves you both time and money by allowing you to plan for the meals ahead of time.
Buy produce in season and freeze it for later
Many types of produce freeze very well. If you use lots of chopped or diced onions, for example, you can cut them up ahead of time and freeze them for later use. Not only is this a healthier option, it allows you to buy fruits in season for smoothies and desserts later and it makes sure you get things at the very best price at the peak of the season.
Cut down on food waste
The freezer is a perfect place to “pause” the process of food going bad before you get a chance to use it. Some things you can put in your freezer to save you from food waste include milk (to be used in cooking), bananas (to be added to pancakes, banana bread, and smoothies) bread slices (croutons), and lunch meat (to be added to casseroles). You can also freeze leftovers for later snacks and meals.
Download this free frozen foods do’s/dont’s list to put on your fridge freezer here so you know what things to keep in the freezer.
What Foods Can I Freeze to Save Money?
As you’re freezing food, here’s a list of how long you can keep the below items stored in the freezer before they go bad:
- Bananas – 3 months
- Jam/Jelly – 12 months but I recommend 6 months for best results
- Berries – 9-12 month
- Corn – 8-12 months
- Broccoli – 8-12 months
- Any non-watery vegetable – 12-18 months
- Bread – 2-3 months
- Cake (unfrosted cake) – 2-3 months
- Chocolate – 12-18 months
- Hard cheeses – 6 months
- Butter – 4 months
For Nuts – here’s how long nuts can last in the freezer once they’ve been shelled:
- Pine Nuts – 6 Months
- Macadamia Nuts – 9 Months
- Almonds – 1 Year
- Brazil Nuts – 1 Year
- Cashews – 1 Year
- Pistachios – 1 Year
- Walnuts – 1 Year
- Pecans – 2 Years
Flour can be stored indefinitely in the freezer.
- Avocados – 2-3 months
- Hummus – 2-3 months
- Pasta sauce – 4-6 months
- Peanut butter (unopened)- 6 months
- Broth – 12 months
- Meats uncooked roasts, steaks, and chops – 12 months
- Uncooked ground meat – 4 months
- Soups – 2-3 months
- Herbs in oil – 6-9 months
- Cookie dough – 3 months
- Corn chips – 6 months
- Garlic – 10-12 months
- Corn on the cob – 10-12 months
Keep your freezer inventory organized with this free printable below!
Download this free frozen inventory list to keep things organized here.
Make frozen convenience foods yourself
There is nothing simpler than pulling out a breakfast burrito from a box and sticking it in the microwave for meals on the go. You can spend up to $1 each on these, or you can cut that price in half or more by making them yourself and placing them in individual portions in your freezer. My favorite is making english muffins with sausage and cheese. These are meals that freeze very well and you just wrap them in aluminum foil and place them in the english muffin baggie they came in! Super simple, quick, and tasty.
Buy meat in bulk right from the source
If you have the extra space for a small space freezer, invest in one for this money-saving trick. You can buy cuts of meat from the farmer directly, a local butcher shop, or your favorite store. All these options are often A LOT cheaper than the store. If you don’t have a large chest freezer, consider buying a large amount and splitting the cost with some family or friends so you can all rake in the savings.
Use your freezer effectively
One way to waste time and money is to not use your freezer the proper way in the first place. Never place hot food in it, stack food to the top, or place food in that has not been properly stored. Make sure you double wrap items that are prone to freezer burning and keep a good stock of what you have so things do not get buried and forgotten about.
You’ll also want to label your frozen food by stating what the item is and the date you put it in there. This will help you not only identify what’s going in the freezer, but also to know when you need to eat it by.
Another trick that many people do not know is that the fuller your fridge and freezer are, the less energy your appliance takes to keep your items cold. Having your freezer full instead of empty, will save on the life of your freezer as well as your energy bill!
What are your favorite money saving freezer tricks and tips?