Many of you will be taking some wonderful vacations this summer and will be contemplating what to do with what is left in your fridge and pantry. With summer vacation right around the corner, you will all be stuck with some extras in your fridge and pantry when it’s time to leave. DON’T THROW EVERYTHING AWAY and waste all that food and money!

Maybe, at some point, you just bought too much and are wondering what to do with the excess? Then there are times we intentionally cook extra to plan for the freezer leftover convenience. Whatever the scenario in your house, check out these nine wonderful ideas below to help cut down on waste, have frozen ingredients on hand, and increase efficiency in YOUR kitchen this summer and year around!

There are 9 Twisty Tips below that will put your freezer to good use and some money in your pocket (to enjoy on vacation)! The extra bonus is that you will have a significant amount of “go to” ingredients and maybe even save an extra trip to the grocery store when you get home! I have even included recipe ideas for your frozen “packets of gold”, for you to consider when you get back into the cooking groove.

-Here are nine items that you may find “leftover” in your fridge or pantry, that all freeze VERY well-

  1. Milk, Half & Half, Cream – When I get an overabundance, or before I go on a trip, I freeze liquid dairy products flat in Ziploc® bags. Measure the quantity and mark the amount on the bag (this is a HUGE twisty tip!). You can’t measure it once it’s frozen and you will want to know how much you have in that Ziploc®!  I thaw flat bags of milk in a bowl of warm water. Really comes in handy when I want to make something like yummy mac and cheese, biscuits & gravy, chowder or a cream soup.  It may look a little “separated”. Just stir it a bit and it works in recipes just fine. I have not tried to drink the milk, so cannot comment on the drinking quality, but it works great for recipes
  2. Cottage cheese – Freeze flat in Ziploc® bags until ready use. Thaw in a bowl of warm water, and put in a fine mesh strainer to strain off extra liquid. Great used in Terry’s Crustless Vegetable Quiche, stuffed shells, pierogies, crepes, or lasagna.
  3. Beer – Sometimes we fall asleep with a beer half full!  Freeze remaining beer flat in Ziploc® bag and use later in Chili with Beans or Kielbasa Stew. Beer is a great liquid to use for many recipes and marinades. Rather than use a fresh, delicious beer why not use one that is already flat?
  4. Green Pepper – It’s a shame to let this tasty and sometimes expensive vegetable go to waste. Cut the green pepper in half, remove seeds and freeze. Add pepper half to meat sauce, stews, paprikash, and casseroles, for increased flavor. You may want to toss the chunk of pepper before serving your dish, but it really helps to pack a flavorful punch!
  5. Chopped, Halved or Whole Nuts- Store in your freezer to keep from turning rancid, especially in the warm months, and use in cookies, cakes, brownies, muffins, or anything that needs a little nutty crunch! Nuts last for months in the freezer. I make baked goods like my Peach & Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins all the time with frozen nuts that I chop before putting in the recipe. The great part is you can take them right from the freezer and chop them, no thawing necessary!
  6. Bread- Bread stored in the freezer for a few months is still great to use for stuffing, croutons, and homemade breadcrumbs.
  7. Cooked Sausage Patties, Sausage Links & Bacon- I Intentionally cook extras! – Why make a mess more than once frying up sausage and bacon? Fry a whole package (or two) and freeze the extras. This can be easily thawed to accompany your breakfast next weekend or throw on a BLT for lunch! Leftover cooked sausage is also great in bread stuffing, baked beans or sausage gravy. Package in Ziploc® bags, freeze and use as needed.
  8. Ham Bones- Freeze the bone for later use (that first chilly day in the fall!), in Terry’s Crockpot Bean or Crockpot Split Pea Soup.
  9. Apple, Lime or Orange Juice- Freeze flat in Ziploc® bags. Use apple juice in marinades and recipes like Apple Thyme & Garlic Marinated Pork Chops. Leftover lime and orange juice can be used in Tequila Lime Chicken.