Hello friends! I am excited to hear that so many of you have enjoyed this series on Simplifying Supper. I have loved hearing your stories of creating and updating your recipe binders, as well as establishing meal planning stations within your kitchen cupboards. If you haven't had a chance to read the previous posts from this series, you can catch up here, here and here.
I am finishing up my posts on Simplifying Supper by sharing with you some of my favorite foods that freeze. My freezer is one of my best friends in the kitchen. I know lots of families who stockpile their freezers with make-ahead meals like lasagnas and enchiladas, and while I do this as well, I primarily use my freezer for keeping things that I don't want to go to waste and items that I access on an everyday basis. Here are some of my favorite freezer finds:
Smoothie Ingredients: Greek yogurt adds both protein and creaminess to my smoothies. I use a 2 TBS scoop to spoon the yogurt onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Once frozen, I transfer the yogurt to a Ziploc bag. Sliced bananas can be frozen in the same method (cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, transfer to Ziploc bag). When it comes time for smoothie making, I can grab most of my ingredients (yogurt, bananas and mixed berries) directly from the freezer and just add protein powder and water.
Scoop Greek yogurt onto a cookie sheet and freeze to use for smoothies.
Waffles/Pancakes: Whenever I make waffles or pancakes, I make a large batch and continue cooking until all the batter is gone. Whatever we don't eat gets frozen and saved for another day. Place the leftover waffles (or pancakes) on a cookie sheet, using parchment paper between each layer to keep them from sticking to each other. Once frozen, pop the waffles into a Ziploc freezer bag and use the toaster oven to reheat when needed. (Need a good waffle or pancake recipe? My current favorites are Whole Wheat Waffles and Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes. Both recipes are easy and delicious.)
Muffins: We love to make our own homemade muffins to have on-hand as a quick grab-and-go snack. After the muffins have been baked and cooled, I once again use my ol' cookie sheet lined with parchment paper trick to freeze them and store them in a Ziploc freezer bag. A few seconds in microwave is all it takes to make them warm, soft and ready to munch on.
Bacon: If you are like me, you love bacon but don't choose to eat it every day. To keep my bacon lasting longer, I start by rolling each piece jelly-roll style. I then freeze the bacon by -- can you guess? Yep, cookies sheet lined with parchment paper followed by Ziploc freezer bag.
Tomato Paste: Don't you hate opening a can of tomato paste when the recipe only calls for 1-2 TBS Spoon the leftover paste into an ice cube tray and drop it in the freezer. Transfer to a Ziploc bag once frozen and pull out a small cube of tomato paste whenever you need it. (This same method can be used for chipotle chilies in adobo sauce. I use my immersion blender to blend the chilies with the sauce and then freeze the leftovers using ice cube trays.)
Butter: I am sure I am not the only one who has had to run to the neighbor’s house mid-way through baking cookies to borrow a stick of butter. By stashing a few sticks of butter in your freezer, you will always have extra on-hand when you need it.
Fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil): Most recipes only call for a few teaspoons of chopped fresh herbs, but you have to buy the whole bunch -- and those babies are pricey! Freeze what you don’t use in ice cube trays, covered with a bit of water, and then transfer to freezer bags.
Soup: Recently, thanks to Pinterest, I have found a new method for freezing soup. I line my muffin tin with silicone liners and then pour in my soup. Each muffin liner will hold about 1/4 cup of soup. Once frozen, I remove the liners and transfer the frozen blocks of soup into a Ziploc freezer bag. When I feel like eating soup, I can choose how many blocks of soup to heat up depending on the number of servings I need.
Tomato-basil soup ready to go into the freezer.
One more food I love to freeze is pesto sauce! And it just so happens, I have a pesto recipe for you today that is healthy, yummy and perfect for the freezer. Enjoy!
2 TBS toasted pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
2 3/4 cup fresh basil (one large package from the grocery store)
2 TBS Parmesan cheese
2 tsp lemon juice
3 TBS olive oil
In a food processor, mince together pine nuts and garlic. Add basil, Parmesan, and lemon juice. With the motor running, slowly pour in olive oil.
To freeze, ladle 2 TBS spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Once frozen, pop the frozen pesto discs into a Ziploc bag and use whenever you need it.