Mariah is a member of the Gatheredtable team, and our resident “new cook.” This is her kitchen story…
I have learned A LOT about cooking over the past 2 years.
In this span of time I emerged from my college days of “survival cooking” (which consisted almost entirely of quesadillas), got a slow cooker, discovered kale, and began to actually try real recipes. My parents were never top chefs and for most of my childhood we owned a Chinese restaurant, so takeout was plentiful and I never learned the basics. Now, after a whirlwind year of recipe testing at Gatheredtable, so many things about cooking that used to be totally foreign to me are second nature. One of those is the not-so-novel concept of freezing extra food and reusing it later.
If you grew up in a household that always had bread in the freezer, this list might seem a little “DUHHH” to you. But if you’re like me and you never had a proper kitchen education, you just might find it helpful!
Here are my favorite freezer-friendly ingredients:
The broths purchased in tetra packs are supposed to be used within a week of opening – if you use only some, pop the rest in the freezer. Especially great to freeze if you’ve worked so hard to make your own broth. Just make sure to leave room at the top of your jar or container for the liquid to expand (I’ve learned this the hard way).
My all-time favorite discovery! Peel it first and then wrap tightly in saran wrap. Easy to chop or grate frozen if you don’t mind getting your fingers a little cold. And since most recipes only call for a small amount of ginger you’re never wasting any of the leftovers.
Again, just leave a little room for it to expand in the container. Defrost overnight in the fridge, then make some pancakes.
I’m always ravenously waiting for my brown rice to finish cooking so I can eat my dinner, so this one is a no brainer to me. Make a big batch of brown rice one night and freeze what you don’t use. Some recipes are even call for “cold pre-cooked rice” as an ingredient, like our wonderful shrimp fried rice.
Good news for those of us singles who can’t eat a whole loaf before it goes bad. Stick frozen bread right in the toaster or pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds! Especially if you make the bread yourself, you don’t want even one slice to go to waste!
7. Tortillas (corn or flour)
So you can always have a quesadilla, anytime, day or night.
8. Shredded cheese
For your quesadilla, obviously. No need to defrost, just toss it in.
9. Cookie dough
Roll into balls and freeze on a cookie sheet, then transfer to a ziploc bag for your “I just need a couple cookies” days. Works great with any recipe for chocolate chip cookies, we like this one.
Save money by buying butter in bulk, plus you always have it on hand.
Just before your bananas start to turn brown, freeze them with the peel on or not – once you’ve collected a few you’re ready for banana bread or 1 Ingredient Banana Ice Cream. YUMMM. If you’re freezing them for smoothies (like this one), we recommend peeling and slicing into coins first.
12. Pasta sauce/Tomato sauce
Make a big batch of pasta sauce and freeze for a quick weeknight dinner (homemade is EASY and so much tastier). Use any freezer-safe container or bag, leaving a little room for the sauce to expand. You can even make extra meatballs and freeze them right in the sauce. (Make a double-batch of Spaghetti and Meatballs for dinner tonight and again next month!)
13. Tomato Paste
Great for those recipes that only use a tablespoon or two. Just don’t freeze it in the can! Put it in a little sandwich bag and flatten it out, then break off a piece when you need it.
Check out Katin’s blog post on the best way to prep and freeze summer berries to enjoy all year. You’ll save loads of money with this one!
This is part of a series called “Kitchen Stories” where we share stories from our team and our customers about how they use Gatheredtable (and tips for the kitchen in general). Have a story to share? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.