How to Save Money by Freezing Fresh Foods

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How to Save Money by Freezing Fresh Foods

For many people, saving money and being frugal is a way of life. There are countless ways to reach these goals but using coupons at the grocery store is one of the most popular and effective methods. The main purpose for using coupons is to stock up on an item at the lowest possible price so you don’t have to pay more later when you need it. But what about the items that we don’t usually see coupons for, like eggs, milk, produce and meat? There is a way to save money on these items; Buy them cheap and freeze them.

A package of strawberries won’t last as long as a can of tomato sauce will, but we can extend the life of these perishable items by freezing them. Although we might not be able to save with a coupon, we can still take advantage of the great sales these items are featured in. Buy your perishable foods at the lowest sale price you can find to bring home to freeze and enjoy your savings months at a time.

Different foods require different preparations and techniques for freezing. It isn’t always as easy as “just put it in the freezer.” Below is a how to guide to get you started, along with tips, tricks and other helpful information about freezing perishable foods.

Before you start…

Get familiar with a few bits of information to help the prepping and freezing process run smoother. Many vegetables require “blanching” before freezing. Blanching is a method of cooking where a food is placed in boiling water briefly for a few minutes and then submerged into an ice water bath. This offers a partial softening and cooking of the food.

There are two main types of freezing produce; Loose packed and solid packed. Loose packing is when you freeze the items individually on a pan or cookie sheet (think berries, pieces of herbs or a diced vegetable) then transfer to another container and place back into the freezer. Solid packing is when the food is frozen all together or in a syrup or water base (many fruits are commonly frozen this way.)

Your produce should be properly washed and cut prior to blanching and freezing. A good wash will rid your fruits and veggies of dirt, insecticides and any little bugs who thought they found a great home. You wouldn’t eat these things, so you wouldn’t want to freeze them either.

It’s always a good idea to defrost your frozen goods in the fridge to avoid any spoilage or significant chance in textures. Plan your time accordingly if your food items will take longer to defrost.

-Green Beans

Cut into manageable pieces, just a few inches in length. Blanch for 3 minutes and submerge in ice water bath. These can be loose packed or solid packed depending on how you plan on using them later on.
Lasts 10 to 12 months

-Corn

You can freeze whole corn on the cob; Blanching is required and time depends on the size of the ear. Small ears need to be blanched for about 7 minutes, medium sized ears for about 9 and large ears need to be blanched for 11 minutes. Make sure these cool completely before freezing.
If you are only freezing the kernels, blanching for about 4 minutes, cool then remove kernels from cob.
Lasts 10 to 12 months

-Asparagus

Trim the stalks and cut into sizes that will fit into your containers. Blanch for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on size and cool completely before freezing.
Lasts 8 to 10 months

-Bell peppers

You can choose to freeze these as halves or in strips, rings or diced. Freezing as halves requires a blanch time of about 3 minutes, while cut into smaller pieces only requires about 2 minutes blanch time. Cool completely and freeze.
You can freeze these peppers raw without blanching. Uncooked peppers that are frozen will stay crisper.
Lasts 10 to 12 months

-Tomatoes

These only need blanched for about 30 seconds so you can remove the skin. After they cool, core, peel and cut into pieces before freezing. (You can also freeze these whole.)
Lasts 2 to 3 months

-Avocado

Avocado actually freezes better as a puree, so there is no blanching required here. Cut in half and remove pit. Puree before freezing.
Lasts about 3 months

-Pumpkin

Cut into manageable pieces and remove the seeds. (You can roast these to reduce waste!) Cook in boiling water until soft, cool, transfer to container and freeze.
Lasts 6 to 12 months

-Bananas

There are a few ways to freeze bananas; Whole unpeeled, whole peeled, peeled and sliced or as a puree. If you choose to freeze peeled whole or sliced, freeze the bananas separately on a cookie sheet first to prevent them from sticking together in the freezer. Make sure your bananas are completely ripe before freezing. The bananas will be mushy once thawed, so their best use after freezing is for cooking.
Lasts about 3 months

-Strawberries

You can freeze these whole or sliced. You can “dry freeze” (without any added sugar water) by placing on a cookie sheet for the initial freeze and transfer to a container and place back into freezer. If you choose a sugar pack, mix ¾ cup of sugar with about 1 quart of strawberries. Move to container and remember to leave some room at the top, about 1 inch. If you choose to pack with syrup, cover with heavy syrup and leave about 1 inch space at the top.
Lasts 6 to 12 months

-Eggs

Eggs can be frozen a few different ways; Whole egg, yolk only or egg white only.
Whole egg -Mix together gently the white and the yolk but avoid mixing in air and whipping. Freeze in an ice tray to create manageable pieces. Three tables spoons will equal one whole egg. Transfer to another container, once frozen completely and place in freezer.
The same process works for the yolk or white only. Two tablespoons of the egg white mixture equals one egg white and one tablespoon of the yolk mixture equals one yolk.
Lasts about 12 months

-Milk

Freeze milk in the container it comes in but make sure there is 1 to 1 and ½ inches of air space at the top to account for expansion (remove some milk if necessary.) While freezing milk is safe, some might be turned off by the color of frozen milk; It can become grainy or yellow in the process. Thaw in the fridge, give it a good shake to redistribute the fat and use within 2 to 3 days.
Lasts about 3 months

-Butter

Butter can also be stored in the freezer within the packaging it comes in. If you prefer, you can slice into smaller pieces or pats and wrap tightly in aluminum foil or freezer paper. This option works best if you plan on using the butter in one tablespoon increments.
Lasts 6 to 9 months

-Meat

Freeze meat in meal size portions if you are buying in bulk. When freezing patties or steaks, place a sheet of freezer paper between each to prevent sticking together and to encourage a faster thaw when you remove from the freezer. The clear plastic that store bought meats come in needs to be added to, as it is not moisture resistant. Try wrapping it in freezer paper and transferring to a freezer bag.
Ground meat lasts about 3-4 months
Processed meat lasts about 1-2 months

*To get the best quality out of your frozen foods, follow the suggested “lasts about” for each food. Foods can be kept frozen longer but quality starts to decline.

Important facts and tips

When freezing any item long or short term, remember to date and label each item so you can properly gauge how long it’s been frozen and what it is. When choosing a container, look for air tight, water resistant and freezer specific. You should also keep your freezer at 0 degrees to ensure a proper freeze for your food. Take all these tips and start saving money on your fresh foods!

 How to Save Money by Freezing Fresh Foods

If you need some new containers to start freezing your perishables in, check out this great price on this Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid 24-Piece Food Storage Container Set from Amazon. You can get it for just $19.99!

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