Freezing Leftovers

One problem many people have is getting a chance to eat leftovers before they go bad. One option is to freeze them until you are ready to eat them. This is a guide about freezing leftovers.

Leftover food in containers in the fridge.
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Saving the contents of a partially opened can; and other tips to use freezing certain condiments, spices and even garlic.

This one is really easy. Once you have opened a large jar of a product, usually it goes into the refrigerator, and sometimes spoils if you do not use it quickly enough. This applies to most canned goods, or other things that may only be used a certain amount of the time.

Why waste opening another jar, or buying more of that item? Get out your ice cube trays! This is a great solution if you are saving something like pizza sauce, tomato sauce, broth, salsa, barbecue sauce and many other items. Even cheese dip seems to work as well. We've tested most possibilities over the years and the only poor outcome was potatoes; mashed or cubed.

This also works really well with garlic. If you are like me; you may like fresh garlic, but it's a pain to peel, chop, and sometimes goes bad if you leave it in the refrigerator too long.

For each liquid item, fill up the ice cube trays about 2/3 full (each "cube"). put in the freezer and when frozen, pop out and put in a ziplock bag and keep it in the freezer. Use as many cubes as you like, it's the perfect portion size and no chance of waste.

The garlic trick is to peel and wash the garlic, toss it into the blender with some water and then pour it into the ice cube trays. it's a wonderful way to have fresh garlic around at all times. Only one warning with the garlic, please make sure you put your frozen garlic cubes in a good container to prevent the garlic odor from mingling with the other foods. I don't recommend ziplock (odor still got out into the rest of the freezer). Now I use a glass jar, which seems to be working just fine.

All those left over sauces and broths can be frozen as well, with the exception of flour-thickened gravy.

I believe over the last 15 years that I have been using this technique it has worked with all items with those exceptions: gravy, potatoes. Everything else comes out just fine. So easy to reach for the proper amount without opening a new can.

By Bella S. from Forks, WA

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Baggies are essential in your kitchen. When bringing home those large frozen meat "specials" divide them into meal portions as soon as you get home instead of putting the whole package of meat in the freezer.

Example: Baggie up two porkchops. With a permanent marker, write (2) PC (abbreviation for pork chop). Do this with pork steaks (PS), hamburger (HB). I also cooked up my taco meat for the future and when I bag it up, I write TACO or T on the baggie.

Also when cooking spaghetti sauce, bag it up and write SS on the baggie, etc. Do this also with leftover SS and you will soon have another pot with all of your smaller leftover baggies for another meal! Happy Baggie Days.

By Jane from Paducah, KY

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I live alone, but when I cook I make recipes for a family, then put portions into small 1 or 2 cup containers and put them in the freezer. Then I take them out when I want them. However, often when I do, they are freezer burnt and I have to toss them!

I guess the containers I use don't do a good job of keeping the freezer burn out. I'm tired of throwing out food. How can I store these portions and not get freezer burn on them? Thanks in advance for your replies.

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

Wow-- Thanks for all your clever ideas! I've got a meatloaf in the oven right now and I'll try a few of these ideas to freeze the slices and let you know how they turn out! :)

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I don't mean to be advertising for Land O Lakes butter but this little 8 ounce container has really come in handy for me. Being flexible, rectangular shape and having a lid make it the perfect container for me to use for freezing turnip salad in a serving size for the two of us. I am so glad that I did not put these containers in the recycling bin.

Yesterday, I cooked my first pot of turnip salad right out of the garden and prepared some to put in the freezer. After putting it in the butter containers, I placed it in the refrigerator freezer over night.

Today, I removed the frozen turnip salad from the containers and placed each cube in a cheap sandwich bag and taped it shut. They fit perfectly in the bottom of the gallon zip lock bag and there's room to add more. I washed the containers and have them ready to the next cooking.

Using Margarine Tubs for Leftovers
    CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

    When TV dinners were on sale, I purchased a number of them. We used these dinners when we were in a hurry rather than eating fast food. When done, I washed and saved the "plate".

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    Can I freeze leftover lasagna? And if so, in what, a glass container, or plastic?

    By Sonia I

    AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

    I would say, yes, you can. What I would do is refrigerate it to get it firm, then cut it into serving sizes. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and place them in a zip lock freezer bag and freeze. When you want some, take out what you need, remove the plastic wrap and heat in the microwave or a toaster oven.

    ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

    Using leftovers can be tricky. The hardest leftovers to use are those in the in-between size. It's too much to add to one's own dinner portion, too much to throw away, yet not enough to make a full-sized meal portion.

    I save them anyway, using in a zip-top baggie or a baby food jar if I don't have a container of the correct size for the portion. I freeze them if the food is freezable, too.

    Later, I can take them out and prepare a mini-serving in whatever container makes sense. Soup stays in the baby food jar or tiny Rubbermaid-type container, while a thick spread may be put on a tortilla or lettuce wrap (use a flexible leaf, steamed in the microwave, so it won't break apart when wrapped); anything solid can be put into a baggie or a reusable silicone cupcake mold. (I also make meatloaf in these sometimes, just to have tiny portions.)

    Then when it's time to prepare a box lunch for myself or DH, I take out several mini-portions of everything: meatloaf, tortilla, tiny lasagna slice, itty bitty leftover pizza circles that I've cut from a full-sized slice with a biscuit cutter, a teeny portion of salad, one or two fish sticks or chicken nuggets... anything that's small, or can be made small. I fill a bento box (do a net search on 'bento box') halfway with this sort of thing, then fill the empty spaces with grapes, berries, cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, slices of cucumber, and so on.

    Tiny, cute food is fun to eat, and you can pack in a lot of good variety and good nutrition if you focus on smaller portions of good foods instead of bigger portions.

    By Chayil from USA

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    I purchased a set of 4 trays for $1 at my local discount store and have used them for all sorts of non-ice items. Cubes thaw faster than blocks of food in larger sizes, and store easily in zipper freezer bags. Just be sure to label the bags.

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    Sometimes a recipe calls for broth and you purchase a larger amount than needed. To avoid waste, you can pour the leftover amount into ice cube trays or a plastic container and freeze.

    CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

    I really think that the introduction of Clip Lock bags (Freezer Use) are the next best invention since sliced bread! I usually go over the top and make too much of a particular meal/soup sauce (all the kids have now left home and sadly I still cook for 6 rather than 2!).

    CommentMoreRead More...Was this helpful?Helpful? Yes

    Experts say that the best way to SLASH your grocery bill is to eliminate the waste-stop throwing things out! Here is my way of salvaging the tablespoon of corn or green beans that is not enough to eat but I can't bear to throw out.

    CommentMoreRead More...Was this helpful?Helpful? Yes

    If a leftover food is good for a soup, wrap it, write on it what it is, and freeze it. Some things will need to be chopped fine before use, but add a lot of flavor.

    CommentMoreRead More...Was this helpful?Helpful? Yes

    I find that when I make a soup with pasta in it, the pasta gets very soft when trying to serve the soup as a leftover. When I have a lot of leftover soup, I will now put it directly into a casserole dish and freeze it.

    CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

    When preparing soups or anything with leftovers to be frozen for later use, I save the excess in ziploc freezer bags. When the food is cooled enough for freezing, lay the bags flat in a baking pan until they are frozen.

    CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

    When you cook a chicken and have leftovers to put in the freezer, store the chunks of chicken in broth to keep it from drying out. Your chicken will be nice and moist when you need it for casseroles, etc. By Katz

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    When making pizza, there always seems to be more sauce than we need, so I freeze leftovers in ice cube trays and take out one or two when needed. These are great for a quick tortilla pizza night. Just use tortilla shells instead of pizza dough.

    CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
    Food and Recipes Food Tips LeftoversAugust 17, 2011
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