I’m sure my supermarket is not the only grocery store with an area in the back I call “My Bargain Bin.” It’s refrigerated and features some dandy bargains, especially on perishable items approaching that “sell by” date. There are no limits on the number of items I can load into my cart—all of them with ridiculously low, rock-bottom prices.
You may be asking, “But Mary, what can we do with all of these perishables to make sure they don’t, well, perish?” The answer, of course, is to freeze them. Yes, even the eggs, milk, and cheese.
Freeze margarine or butter in the packaging and containers they come in for up to six months. Thaw to return to their original texture and quality.
Once whipped and sweetened, cream freezes well for one to two months. Note: Freezing cream in its liquid state is not recommended because it affects the quality of the product. In most cases, freezing causes changes to the fat, which can lead to poor texture.
Unopened eggnog may be frozen for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator, and shake well before serving, as there may be some ingredient separation during freezing.
You can freeze eggs, provided you remove them from the shell first. Do not freeze whole eggs in the shell. Raw eggs can be frozen for up to one year. Thaw in the refrigerator. Hint: Separate the whites from the yolks, and freeze in small portions for easy use.
Milk may be frozen for as long as three months, provided the sealed container is frozen prior to the “best before” date. Skim and low-fat milk freeze better than whole milk. Thaw frozen milk in the refrigerator. The milk will still have the same nutrients, but it may separate. If it does, shake well, and consume as soon as possible.
Hard cheese freezes well, but it changes the texture, making it nearly impossible to slice. Frozen cheese is great for cooking and to grate. Hint: Grate first, and then freeze.
Fresh beef roasts and steaks can be frozen for up to one year if wrapped well to retard freezer burn; pork and lamb for up to six months.
You can freeze bacon, hot dogs, cooked ham, luncheon meats, and sausage for up to two months before these items begin to lose quality and taste.
Whole turkey, chicken, duck, and goose can be frozen for up to one year. Poultry pieces, however, should be used within nine months.
All-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, cornmeal, and other baking staples, including baking powder and baking soda, stay fresh and bug-free indefinitely in the freezer. You will experience no change of texture or taste. Even better? You can ignore the expiration dates.
Coffee and Tea
Storing coffee beans in the freezer has long been the method of choice to preserve freshness. But die-hard coffee lovers tell us to never freeze coffee beans or grinds because it changes the flavor from fresh to “freezer-stale.”
However, no one argues that freezing leftover brewed coffee in ice cube trays to make blended coffee drinks or iced coffee is a great idea. Freeze leftover tea in the same manner and you’ll have “ice” for your iced tea that won’t dilute the drink.
Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.” Mary invites you to visit her at her website, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at EverydayCheapskate.com/contact, “Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at Tips.EverydayCheapskate.com. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Copyright 2021 Creators.com