You’ve found a great sale on your favorite foods—but instead of buying just one or two units of the item, you’d like to stock up. The problem, of course, is that most foods have an expiration date—and not all foods can be frozen to store longer.
Or can they? In actuality, many more edible products can be frozen than you might think. Although we know that meats, vegetables, and ice cream do well in the freezer, other foods and drinks may be more questionable, and many people end up wasting food instead of popping them into the freezer.
“You can freeze almost any food,” the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says. “Some exceptions are canned food or eggs in shells. However, once the food (such as a ham) is out of the can, you may freeze it.”
Here’s a breakdown on the unconventional foods you can freeze, along with tips on how to maximize freshness and safety if you do choose to give them the big chill.
If milk is frequently on your shopping list, you’re quite familiar with the fact that it typically costs over $3.00 a gallon—but during those periods when it goes on sale, you may want to pick up a few extra gallons. That’s because milk can be frozen for up to a month.
“While pasteurized milk can be frozen, it may separate or be slightly grainy when thawed,” the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s (UNL) Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources says. “Frozen milk works best for cooking, but you may find it's still okay for drinking.”
Because milk expands during the freezing process, leave some space at the top of the container before you put it in the freezer. When you’re ready to thaw it out, put it in the refrigerator until it’s back to a liquid state, and then stir well before you serve it, UNL’s institute says.
Although you don’t ever want to freeze eggs while still in their shells (because the shells could burst, causing food safety issues), you absolutely can freeze the raw yolks and whites for up to a year, according to the FDA.
You’ll either want to crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them until blended before freezing them in freezer-friendly containers, or you can separate the whites from the yolks first, according to the American Egg Board (AEB).
If you separate them, you’ll want to add 1/8 teaspoon of salt to every 1/4 cup of egg yolks before freezing them, so the yolks won’t become too gelatinous during the freezing process. The whites can be frozen without additives, the AEB says.
Avocados are among the trendiest foods right now, thanks to their rich flavor, low net carb count, and inclusion of healthy fats. But avocados can be expensive, and sometimes grocers even face shortages of them. Therefore, it would be nice to be able to stock up on them during sales.
Fortunately, you can, the California Avocado Commission says. You can either cut them in half before freezing or mash them. If you decide to freeze the avocado halves, you’ll first remove the pits, then brush them with lemon juice, and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. Place those into a freezer bag and press out all the air before sealing.
If you choose to mash them first, drizzle with a bit of lemon juice during the mashing process, then place them in a freezer bag, and press out the air before sealing and freezing.
You can freeze hard and semi-hard cheeses like cheddar and Swiss for up to six months, although it may impact the texture. However, the flavor will remain the same, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
To ensure maximum freshness, cut the cheeses into half-pound to one-pound sizes and package them in moisture-resistant packaging before freezing. Unfortunately, softer cheeses don’t do as well in the freezer, the NCHFP says.
Don’t Forget These Freeze-Worthy Foods
Other foods that freeze well include flour, lunch meats, soups, cooked leftover meats, hot dogs, bacon, and sausage. To learn the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendations on how long these foods (and more!) can be frozen, refer to the FDA’s Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart.