Buying food in bulk and freezing it has so many benefits: You save time by going to the grocery store less, you save money buying larger quantities, and you ensure that you’ll always have something in the house for dinner. But there’s an art to buying bulk foods. Before you head to the store, check out this list of surprising items that you can buy in bulk and freeze for later.
Freezing cheese is a little-known but valuable way to save money on groceries. Purchasing huge blocks of it at warehouse stores like Costco will help you keep the price per serving down. Before sticking it in the freezer, cut the hunks into smaller portions, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and then seal them inside an airtight container or bag.
Any type of cheese can be frozen, but keep in mind that some will retain their textures and flavors better than others. Favorites like cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, provolone, and gouda freeze best, but when they’re thawed, they may have a crumblier texture. Some cheese-freezers suggest using thawed cheese in cooked dishes so its texture isn’t an issue.
Unlike cheese, dairy milk suffers no textural effects from being frozen—you can load up your freezer with extra gallons so you’ll be set for the month. Since milk expands as it freezes, you may want to pour milk into freezer-safe containers and leave space between the surface of the milk and the top of the container. To thaw it, just put it in the fridge the night before, and it will be ready for your morning cereal.
Nuts are high in protein and healthy unsaturated fats, and they’re easy to grab and go. With so many varieties and mixed options, buying nuts in bulk is a no-brainer. Many grocery stores have a dried-good section full of quality nuts at lower prices than pre-portioned packages. But the oils in nuts can turn rancid after a while, especially if they’re kept in a too-warm environment. If you buy them in bulk, pour out a week's worth into an airtight container and put the rest of them in the freezer, sealed in a Ziploc bag. They’ll stay fresh for over a year.
Unless you have chickens, eggs are likely a mainstay of your shopping list. If you find a great deal on a few dozen at a roadside stand or Costco, you can freeze them—but not their shells. Since the liquids inside the shell expand when they freeze, the shell could crack, rendering the egg unsafe to eat. Instead, crack them and freeze the raw yolks and whites, or fully cook them and freeze in an airtight container.
5. Cooked Beans
When you have to feed a lot of people, beans are one of the cheapest ways to do it. Dried beans keep almost indefinitely in your pantry and cost pennies per serving, especially if you buy them in bulk.
A common complaint with dried beans is that they take a long time to soak and cook, but you can eliminate this hurdle by cooking a couple of 16-ounce packages of dried beans at once and freezing them, undrained, in one- or two-cup portions. To thaw, place the frozen beans in the fridge overnight. You can also add the frozen contents directly to soups or chili. This works for almost any legume: chickpeas, black beans, and even lentils.
Buying a lot of bananas at once may seem pretty risky, but bananas are easy to freeze: Peel the banana, slice or mash it, and place in an airtight bag until you need it. You can use the frozen bananas for smoothies, baking, or even as a snack for a teething baby.
Buying fresh fruit when it’s in season is a tried-and-true rule of home economics. Thrifty types know that you can buy strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries in bulk and freeze them for enjoying during the winter months. Check out farmers markets, roadside fruit stands, or even pick-your-own farms to find fresh berries for really low prices.
To keep berries from freezing into one big clump, lay them out on parchment paper on a cookie sheet in the freezer with space between each berry. Once they’re fully chilled, you can place them in a plastic bag or container, and they'll be much easier to add to smoothies, desserts, or oatmeal.
8. Leafy Greens
When super-nutritious leafy veggies like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and collard greens are in season, you can buy a bunch and freeze them for later. Choose the best quality greens you can find, and once you get them home, wash them thoroughly. Remove the hard stems and chop into bite-sized pieces or ribbons. Blanch the greens in boiling water—which prevents the leaves from becoming mushy once defrosted—for up to one minute, then cool in a bowl of ice water. Finally, squeeze out as much water as you can from the leaves, seal in an airtight bag, and freeze.