Can you freeze pulled pork? Yes! Looking for ways to freeze leftovers and other freezer tips and tricks? Look no further! Here are 25 ways to use your freezer for ready-to-go ingredients for quick and easy family dinners.
Your freezer can be a treasure trove of ready-to-go ingredients for quick and easy family dinners. All it takes is just a bit of planning and prepping ahead!
The answer to ‘can you freeze pulled pork’ is just one of the many ways to use your freezer! Here are some awesome tips and ideas for using your freezer to store foods and ingredients so that Meal Prep is easier on those busy weeknights!
Freezer Storage Guidelines
Before we get to the tips and ideas, just a couple of guideline notes about freezing food the safest way for the best quality.
- Your freezer should be set to 0° F (-18° C) degrees. It’s a good idea to check the temperature regularly and if needed, adjust it down.
- Always cool warm or hot food in fridge first, then move to freezer. Putting warm food in the freezer could start to defrost other food and cause bacteria to grow. It can also put food at risk of freezer burn, which is when ice crystals to form or result in freezer burn on the food.
- For best results, once food is room temperature or cool, seal it in a large resealable freezer bag or container and remove as much excess air as possible so that the food lasts longer. I love my NutriChef Vacuum Sealer for freezing foods, especially raw meat. It’s really the best option to ensure that all air is removed and helps to prevent freezer burn. However, you could also use a freezer bag or freezer-safe food storage container. Note, plastic wrap is not the best option for the freezer as it can let air in allowing bacteria.
- A small portion, or even individual portions, will freeze faster and thaw faster than a large portion. However, you can freeze larger portions flat for a similar thawing time. As mentioned, just be sure to remove as much air as possible.
- Be sure to label the frozen container with the date that the food is placed in the freezer, plus the later date that it should be used by.
- When thawing, for the best result, always thaw in the refrigerator in the sealed freezer bag or container. Do not thaw on the counter as thawing at room temperature can cause bacteria to form.
- For Safe Storage Times, visit: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html
1. Freeze your Herbs
Freeze before they go bad! Chopped cilantro, basil, dill, oregano, and other Herbs for cooking. Frozen herbs aren’t great for garnish as they are soggy when thawed, but perfect for adding into recipes. Once minced or chopped, spread out on a sheet pan to freeze so they do not clump. Then transfer to a plastic freezer bag/container. Add them to recipes straight from the freezer! I love to keep fresh sage in the freezer for my Baby Potatoes with Garlic Butter and Sage. Dill is another great option for the freezer if you don’t use it very often and usually have lots leftover. I love it in my Lemon Dill Creamy Chicken and Asparagus recipe.
Fresh Herbs can last in the freezer for 9-12 months.
2. Spices and Blends last longer in the freezer
Most spices can be stored in the pantry, but you can also store them in the freezer for a longer life. This is especially great for Spice blends and mixes, such as Cajun or Mexican spice mix.
Spices can last in the freezer for 9-12 months.
Make large batches of sauces and then portion out and freeze for future dinners! This is great for tomato sauces, cream sauces, broth-based sauces, or cheese-based sauces. My favorite sauces to freeze are my Simple Sour Cream Tomato Sauce, my healthy Cauliflower Dill Cream Sauce, and my Walnut Ricotta Sauce. These freeze nicely in freezer bags or in storage containers. Portion these out into reasonable portions based on how you use them. For example, tomato paste in ¼ cup portions and sauces in 1 cup portions.
Sauces can last in the freezer for 3-4 months.
There are so many condiments that are used infrequently and then sit in the fridge or pantry for months, forgotten. To save these condiments, you can freeze them for future use. These freeze nicely in freezer bags or in storage containers. Portion these out into reasonable portions based on how you use them. For example, Homemade Sugar Free Ketchup in ½ cup portions or tomato paste in ¼ cup portions and sauces in 1 cup portions.
Condiments can last in the freezer for 3-4 months.
5. Fresh Fruit
You can freeze strawberries, blueberries, raspberries to use in smoothies or baking. Grapes and melon pieces turn into wonderful ice cubes! Frozen sliced Bananas can be blended into Smoothies, banana ice cream, or shakes.
Fresh fruit can last in the freezer for 9-12 months.
6. Aromatics – Onions, Garlic, Ginger, and more
Aromatics in cooking, are ingredients that add flavor and aroma to recipes, such as onions, garlic, ginger, and scallions. Other components of mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery) or the trinity (onions, bell pepper, celery) are sometimes included in this category. These all freeze well for soups, stews, casseroles, and skillet cooking – meals where you want these veggies to be soft. Dice the onions, carrots, celery and then freeze in a single layer and transfer to airtight container or freezer bag. Mince garlic and ginger and freeze the same way. For many recipes, you can add these frozen aromatics directly from the freezer. Frozen onions are great for my 5-Ingredient Easy Meatloaf without breadcrumbs or this Easy Chicken Goulash with Quick Dumplings.
Frozen ginger and garlic are great for Korean Bulgogi Sauce Beef Tacos.
Aromatics can last in the freezer for 9-12 months.
7. Other Uncooked Veggies
There are lots of other veggies that you can chop and freeze for adding to soups, casseroles, skillets, or stews. Red pepper, green pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, cabbage, and carrots all do well when frozen raw. I also love to freeze uncooked baby spinach leaves and add them to smoothies! Cut them into small pieces and flash freeze in a single layer. Then transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag.
Uncooked veggies can last in the freezer for 9-12 months.
8. Cooked Veggies
Not all cooked vegetables freeze well. There are some with a high water content that get very soft when cooked and then turn to mush when frozen, such as zucchini. However, other veggies, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, brussels sprouts, and corn are all good for par-cooking or blanching and then freezing. Use them the way you would use frozen veggies that you buy at the store. During the summer months, when corn on the cob is in abundance, I love to roast and then cut off the cob to freeze in the colder months. I use frozen corn in my One Pan Creamy Corn and Blackened Chicken as well as my Chipotle Meatballs in Mexican Corn Cream Sauce.
Cooked veggies can last in the freezer for 9-12 months.
9. Peels and Ends for Stock
Save those peels & ends of carrots, celery, onions, or other root vegetables for Stock Add to chicken bones, turkey bones, or beef bones with water, salt, and pepper and simmer for 2-3 hours to get all of the flavor. Then strain and save the stock. I love to use stock in so many recipes, especially slow cooker dinners, such as my Honey Garlic Beef and Potatoes in the Slow Cooker
Peels and ends can last in the freezer for 9-12 months.
10. Cheese – Block
It can be very economical to buy large blocks or wedges of cheese, such as manchego (thank you, Costco!) or even cheddar. Then cut it into pieces and freeze it for later. To thaw, simply place in the refrigerator for 24 hours to thaw gently and evenly. Use it as you normally would.
Cheese can last in the freezer for about 6 months.
11. Cheese – Shredded or grated
Having shredded or grated cheese on hand for casseroles, burritos, or other stuffings or melted toppings is a fantastic tip! Grated Parmesan or Cotija, for example, can simply go into the freezer in its original airtight packaging. Shredded cheese should be flash frozen in a single layer and then transferred to an airtight container or bag. . If it’s a softer shredded cheese, you can add a teaspoon cornstarch per 1 cup and shake it around to prevent clumping. Using frozen parmesan is great in my Stovetop Chicken, Zucchini, Rice Casserole. I love to use frozen cheddar in my Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole Without Soup.
Cheese can last in the freezer for about 6 months.
Fresh, uncooked pasta can also be frozen, but cooked pasta can become mushy. That said, cooked pasta freezes nicely in a casserole, so think about mixing pasta with ground beef or chicken and a sauce and portioning it out. My Greek Chicken Feta Pasta Bake with Kale is a great pasta dinner for freezing!
Fresh Pasta can last in the freezer for 4-6 months and cooked pasta for 3-4 months.
13. Rice, Quinoa
Cooked rice and cooked quinoa can be portioned out and frozen in an airtight container. I suggest trying to flash freeze it in a single layer and then transferring it to a container, so you don’t have one giant block of frozen rice.
Cooked rice and quinoa can last in the freezer for 3-4 months.
Potatoes can be cooked in a variety of ways and then frozen. You can cut into fries or potato wedges, and par-bake them and then flash freeze on a sheet pan. You can also make mashed potatoes and portion out into frozen packs.
Cooked Potatoes can last in the freezer for about 6 months.
15. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds have oils in them that can go rancid, so freezing them can extend their life and they defrost beautifully. Freeze shredded coconut, Almond Flower, Sesame Seeds, peanuts, cashews, and other nuts.
Nuts and seeds can last in the freezer for 9-12 months.
16. Other Grains
To get a longer life out of other grains you may not use as often, you can freeze them as well. For example, barley, flaxseed, or even oats. Try this Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere.
Other grains can last in the freezer for 9-12 months.
Casseroles – Any cheesy, saucy, pasta or rice casserole with vegetables, chicken, or beef will do quite well frozen! I love to make an extra White Beef Lasagna with Cream Cheese and Zucchini or Hamburger Potato Casserole with Cheddar Cheese.
Casseroles can last in the freezer for 3-4 months.
18. Cooked Pork
Cooked Pork tenderloin, pork butt, pork shoulder, boston butt, pulled pork or pork stew meat – pretty much all pork freezes so well and can be portioned out to be used in a variety of dishes. Use them in tacos, rice bowls, stews, soups, pastas, casseroles, and more! A favorite go-to slow cooker recipe for dinner is my Mouth watering Slow Cooker Pork Tacos. Freezing a pulled pork recipe and then mixing it with barbecue sauce or taco seasoning for tacos is so great! Frozen pulled pork thaws beautifully. I also love to make extra Simple Weeknight Paprika Pork Stew Recipe in the crock pot to freeze for a quick and easy dinner later. To freeze, place the meat as flat as possible in a freezer bag or container. This helps it to thaw more evenly.
Cooked pork can last in the freezer for 4-6 months.
19. Cooked Chicken
Cooked chicken breasts or thighs in pieces, whole, or shredded are great to freeze and then use in quick and easy dinners. I love to roast a bunch of chicken breasts and then shred to use in recipes later, like my Chicken Ramen Noodle Bowl Dinner or my Easy Chicken Mole Enchiladas (Enmoladas).
Cooked chicken can last in the freezer for 4-6 months.
20. Ground Chicken, Turkey, Beef, or Pork
Ground Chicken or turkey can obviously be frozen raw, but you can save even more time by cooking it and then freezing it. I love to do this and then use it in Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wrap Recipe or my Ground Chicken Taco Casserole Recipe with Black Beans. Similar to ground chicken, cooked ground beef is fantastic for quick weeknight tacos or my Quinoa with Ground Beef and Corn Taco Bowls. Or how about adding to Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn.
Cooked ground meat can last in the freezer for 6-9 months.
21. Cooked Beef
The good news when it comes to freezing beef, you really cannot go wrong with any cut of meat. Flank steak slices, filet, chuck meat, or other cuts where you have given it a quick cook and then freeze it. I love to have beef tenderloin on hand for my Mouth watering Potato and Steak Bites Recipe. I keep sliced flank steak for my Korean Bulgogi Sauce Beef Tacos.
Cooked beef can last in the freezer for 4-6 months.
Seafood can very often be bought fresh-frozen. This means that they freeze it at the peak of freshness. Therefore, if you plan on freezing shrimp, fish, or other shellfish, I recommend buying it already frozen. However, you can also buy it fresh and then freeze it. Shrimp thaws very quickly under running cold water.
Seafood can last in the freezer for 6-9 months.
23. Raw Marinated Meats
This is perhaps the easiest way to prep chicken or beef ahead for easy dinners. It takes just minutes to add some seasonings to raw meat and then freeze it for later. I love to freeze raw Easy Chinese BBQ Pork Tenderloin. For chicken, check out these 4 Quick & Easy Chicken Marinades.
Raw Marinated meats can last in the freezer for 6-9 months.
24. Raw Meatballs
I love to make a variety of meatballs and then freeze them raw! You can bake them directly from the freezer and it makes busy weeknight meals so easy! Simply form the meatballs and then flash freeze on a sheet pan. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer storage bag. Here are a few of my favorite meatball recipes. Asian Meatballs with Teriyaki Mustard Sauce are made with ground beef and are delicious with a simple stir fry and rice. My Chicken Greek Meatballs with Tzatziki Sauce are another go-to for the freezer and go great with my Greek Orzo Salad with Olives, Cucumbers, & Feta. Finally, try these Incredible Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef
Meatballs can last in the freezer for 6-9 months.
25. Cooked Beans
Last, but certainly not least, are cooked beans. Black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, or garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are all great to freeze once they are cooked. Simply portion out into freezer bags or containers and freeze. I love to make extra Easy Refried Black Beans Recipe using Dried Beans and freeze them for adding to burritos, tacos, or tostadas. I also love to make extra roasted chickpeas for adding to stews, curries, or salads later on. Or make extra Brazilian Beans and Rice in the Slow Cooker and freeze them.
Beans can last in the freezer for 9-12 months.
Want more tips for making busy family dinners easier? Click here for my Free Printable 5 Simple Steps to Easy Family Dinners!