Several people have been asking me how I save so much money on groceries, as we shop only once a month.
Of course, there are lots of things that go into our menu plans and shopping trips, but there is one major process I go through right after shopping that is our true money saver:
I did a little research a couple years ago on what you can freeze for later use. I learned that there’s not much you can’t freeze! I decided to make a comprehensive list of everything I freeze and what I do to prep it beforehand, and how I thaw it for use later.
Chop, place in freezer safe, air-tight container, remove portion desired to use, and cook as usual.
- Bell or Sweet Peppers
- Onions (although these safe a ridiculously long shelf life anyway)
- Cucumbers (work better blended up in smoothies or pureed)
- Spinach (cooked or not!)
- Potatoes (peeled, then shredded or chopped — they turn a funny color, but cook fine)
- Tomatoes (and fresh tomato sauce)
- Green Beans
- Corn (chopped off the cob, on the cob, or in a regular frozen bag)
- Squash (puree)
- Pumpkin (puree)
Usually you can wash, chop and freeze fruit, but berries and overripe bananas need no prep.
- Banana (whole, with peel)
- Cranberries (no prep)
- Blueberries (no prep)
- Raspberries (no prep)
- Watermelon (chopped or pureed)
- Lemon (sliced, not whole)
- Lime (sliced, not whole)
- Canteloupe (chopped or pureed)
- Honeydew (chopped or pureed)
- Pears (although these usually don’t last long enough to freeze in our house!)
- Pre-made Smoothies or Fruit Purees (I make these all summer long and store them in large freezer safe containers. Then we eat on it all fall and winter long! Bundle affectionately calls it “ice cream.” Mommy win.)
Red Meat, Poultry, Fish
We cut large pieces of beef into smaller portions, then wrap, label and freeze. Then they’re ready for easy access when we cook. We buy chicken breasts frozen already, as well as fish.
- Ground Beef
- Hamburger Patties (We recently received some as a gift from a friend)
- Ground Turkey
- Tilapia Filets
- Ham (cooked or not!)
- Turkey (of course, frozen before you cook it, then refrozen to save carcass for stock)
- Turkey Bacon (this can go right into the freezer, then thawed the day you need it)
- Turkey Dogs or All-Beef Hot Dogs
- Polish Sausage (usually given to us, not bought from a store or butcher)
- Smoked Hamburger-based Summer Sausage (smoked by my awesome father-in-law!)
Yogurt and eggs do not freeze well unless they are mixed in with something else, like a smoothie, or a casserole. Milk and cheese do great, though.
- Shredded cheese, any kind!
- Blocks of cheese, and kind!
- Milk (pour 1 cup off the top and use immediately; then freeze the whole container. I thaw milk in the fridge for two days before use, so when your milk is getting “low” (half-way gone), get out the frozen gallon!)
- Buttermilk (simply freeze in store-bought container, or follow directions for milk, if worried about bursting the container)
- Whipped Topping
- Margarine or Butter Sticks
- Of course, breast milk, if you have a baby and are breastfeeding. See this website for amazingly detailed guidelines for safely storing and using breast milk!
Beans and Legumes
Because beans and legumes are usually shelf stable already, I always freeze them once they’re already cooked. I love them in casseroles, hummus, soups and chili! Just make your entree and portion into ziplock bags or freezer safe storage containers, label, and thaw in fridge when you need a quick pre-made meal! These are the kinds I use most.
- Kidney Beans
- Great White Northern Beans
- Pinto Beans
Cooked pastas do not freeze well, even in casseroles. I do not suggest it. But breads, baked goods, and rice usually work just great.
- Loaves of bread (huge money saver when we shop!)
- Rice (brown, white, jasmine, whatever you like. Just cook, store safely, and label)
- Bagels or Muffins (pre-baked)
SUPER EASY. Freeze and use. If you have have a bag leftover, just seal safely, label and freeze again!
- Baking chips (chocolate, white, peppermint, butterscotch, etc.)
- Nuts (any kind! For real.)
- Almond Bark
- Pre-made cookies (perfect for when you have a huge recipe, but only need a dozen)
- Cookie dough (use as directed on recipe)
- Brewed coffee! (my favorite, obviously. I use ice cube trays to freeze it in, then pop out a few when I need to make my iced coffee last longer. You could also use them for baking; just melt and use.)
This list is long, but we do this on a monthly basis. Freezing food saves us about $100 monthly. Obviously, cooking fresh is the healthiest way to go, and often cheaper than pre-cooked frozen foods, but doing the prep ourselves makes it totally worth it for our family — and we don’t have to sacrifice our health!
Neither do you.
Hope this post lends some helpful information for your family’s next shopping escapade. Happy freezing and saving!