How to prevent waste in the kitchen with an ice cube tray.
Do you want to know one of my very favorite kitchen secrets? The one secret that I use multiple times each month to help me save money and prevent food waste??? It has everything to do with an ice cube tray! Instead of tossing excess foods, freeze those foods in an ice cube tray to extend the life and use at a future time. There are many different foods you can freeze in an ice cube tray, truly the skies the limit!
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Why Freeze Food in Ice Cube Trays?
Freezing foods in ice cube trays is not only easy, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run!
Many recipes call for half a can of this or a few tablespoons of that Tossing this leftover food aside may not feel like a big deal at the time, but when it is continually done over and over again the amount of waste adds up, which in turn means more money spent.
Instead of throwing the extra leftovers in a can away (which also means throwing money you spent away), freeze them in an ice cube tray.
An ice cube tray is the perfect spot for freezing leftovers because the small cubes make defrosting easier and faster than when it is frozen in a large chunk. These frozen ice cube leftovers are perfect for those quick meals!
How to Freeze Food in Ice Cube Trays
- Simply fill each ice cube tray with the food you want to freeze.
- Stick the tray into the freezer for 1-2 hours until each cube is frozen through.
- Pop those cubes out of the tray and into a freezer bag (I use these!).
- Get as much air out of the bag as possible by slowly pushing it out and then quickly zipping it shut.
- You can now pull out the cubes and use as needed in recipes.
These cubes will stay good in the freezer for 3-6 months.
When you use your cubes in a recipe keep in mind that each cube in a standard ice cube tray is about 2 Tablespoons (1 ounce). This makes 2 cubes equals 1/4 cup.
What Foods Freeze Well In Ice Cube Trays?
Here are a few suggestions of leftovers that will freeze great in ice cube trays!
Do you have some leftover Chicken Stock? Maybe from a homemade stock or from a box? Either works! Simply fill your ice cube tray up with the stock and freeze. These stock cubes are great to use for soups or in sauces.
Another great food to freeze in ice cube trays is yogurt. If you find yogurt in your fridge getting close to the expiration date, pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it for later use. These frozen yogurt cubes are perfect for smoothies or oatmeal for added protein and creaminess!
Cream will stay fresh in the fridge for about a month, but if you have cream that is getting close to expiring you could freeze it in an ice cube tray for later use. The frozen cream is perfect to use when making butter, ice cream, sauces, soups, or whipped cream.
My Pumpkin Cookie recipe (which you can find in my cook book here) calls for about 3/4 can of pumpkin puree. Instead of throwing away the extra 1/4 can of pumpkin I have started freezing it in cubes, and loving it!
These pumpkin cubes are perfect to add to smoothies or protein drinks, but can also be used in all of your pumpkin baking! If you have a baby at home you can even use it to feed your little one!
Another food that will freeze well is pesto! Freezing pesto in an ice cube tray is a great way to save it for use in pasta recipes, eggs, sauces, or salad dressing. The cubes are so easy to pop out of the freezer to use in a quick fix!
6. Tomato Paste
Most of my recipes requiring tomato paste only need 1-2 Tablespoons, making the majority of the can go to waste.
Instead of throwing it away, I have learned to freeze that excess in ice cube trays to use for later. These freeze really well and are perfectly proportioned for my stew recipes! Yay!
7. Lemon Juice
You can even freeze fresh squeezed lemon juice, or bottled lemon juice! The ice cube portions are perfect for drizzling over salads, using in baking, lemonade or for making buttermilk substitute.
8. Herbs in Olive Oil
Don’t let fresh herbs go to waste. Instead of tossing out fresh herbs, use an ice cube tray to preserve them. All you have to do is place the herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano work best) in an ice cube tray, filling it about 3/4 full, and fill the rest of the cube with olive oil. Freeze the tray following directions at the top of the article. You can pull these cubes out of the freezer to use in soups and stews.
The next time you have a small amount of food leftover and you don’t know what to do with it, consider freezing it in an ice cube tray! This kitchen hack is so easy and a great way to save some pennies!