As we aim to be more efficient with our at-home meal prep, keep this in mind: The freezer is your friend.
If you have the freezer space, you can stock up on sale items or freeze meals you have prepared ahead of time.
Most items store well in the freezer for about three months. After three months, the quality of frozen foods may worsen while remaining safe to eat.
For specific food concerns or more information about storage recommendations, check out StillTasty.com.
While some foods do not freeze well (think cooked pasta, cooked egg whites, cucumbers, mayo or sour cream to name a few), I am frequently surprised by what we can freeze.
Check out these 11 foods made for freezing:
1. Egg muffins are amazing. Grab them out of the freezer, wrap them in a moist paper towel and pop them in the microwave for 60-90 seconds.
2. Pancakes, muffins or French toast are all freezer champs. It helps to first separate them using layers of parchment paper or store as a single layer within a resealable bag. My favorite tip when freezing items in resealable bags is to use a straw to suck out the air for a DIY vacuum-sealed package.
3. Cooked beans or lentils may be frozen in resealable bags. Once thawed, they yield a quick addition to baked goods, tacos or soup.
4. Fresh or cooked ground meat or poultry may be stored in resealable bags, preferably in ½- to 1-pound portions. Be sure to label the type, amount and date.
5. Homemade chicken tenders may be frozen raw or cooked. Store these with quick recipe instructions for a readymade meal.
6. Herbs may be finely diced or pureed before being frozen in ice-cube trays with olive oil. More hardy herbs such as rosemary may be frozen whole on the stem.
7. When cheese goes on sale, whether shredded or in blocks, freeze it in airtight, resealable bags. You may even shred the block version before storing it in 1- or 2-cup portions to make them recipe ready.
8. Pasta sauce or pesto may be frozen in ice cube trays or larger 1-cup portions.
9. Did you know milk freezes? Stock up when the price is low and freeze. Though, word to the wise, take a cupful out to prevent the jug from bursting.
10. Slice or dice up sweet potatoes before freezing. Once thawed, toss them with olive oil or egg whites and your favorite spices (I love a smoked paprika) and roast in the oven. This is one of my go-to toppings for salad.
11. Dice up potatoes, onions or squash in labeled 1-cup portions for a quick addition to soups, egg scrambles, chili and more.