Today I’m going to tell you how a £1 ice cube tray has revolutionised* my meal planning.
(*Ok, maybe revolutionised is a bit strong – I should probably go with improved rather a lot although that doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?. ;-))
Not long ago, when I shared my post about how to build a frugal pantry, I mentioned that I used ice cube trays in my freezer to help with my meal planning and prep and I got lots* of messages asking me to reveal my secret.
(*Ok, I got two messages about it and one only mentioned the ice cubes tray thing as a PS.)
Basically, I have about 8 little plastic tubs in my freezer that are filled with special ice cubes – ice cubes made from ingredients that I freeze in small quantities ready to use in recipes as and when I need them.
I basically freeze whatever it is in the ice cube trays and then when it’s frozen, I pop the cubes out and put them in one of my little tubs so I can store them neatly and add to them when I have more to add.
Here are some of the things that I’ve frozen at some point or another…
I know, leftover wine is a rarity but some recipes call for it (my spaghetti bolognese recipe is perfect with just a small amount of red wine added in for example) so I actually bought a small miniature bottle and froze it all in one of my ice cube trays. I then transferred them into one of my little stacking tubs ready to use when I have a recipe that calls for it.
There are also a few rogue white wine ice cubes in there too but they’re in there simply because there was leftover wine and I thought I’d have a reason to use them but I haven’t so far.
These tubs are looking pretty pathetic right now but last year’s chilli plants gave us way more chilli than we could use, we chopped it up and squished a little bit into the bottom of each of the ice cube trays. We only used small quantities though – just the amount we’d usually add to a recipe to give it some heat and we then added just enough water to cover it. Again, we popped out the chilli cubes when they were frozen and moved them into a little tub.
In a similar way to the chilli, I froze little cubes of mint as my mint plants were growing out of control at one point last year and I love mint in my infused water (just a bottle of water with mint and orange wedges in there). I actually have some larger ice cube trays that I use to freeze mint with orange and lemon mini wedges in to make life even easier.
You can do similar with pretty much any herbs and I know some people who use olive oil rather than water to freeze them in.
I bought about 20 bulbs of garlic at one point earlier this year when they were reduced to about 9p a bulb in the reduced section and roasted it all which was then added to ice cubes because roasted garlic is so much nicer to add to a recipe than normal garlic.
I’m the only person who likes pesto in our house but I never use a full jar as I just like a small amount so I tend to freeze the leftovers from a jar to use again. Next time I want pesto, I just grab some of my little pesto ice cubes and I’m ready to go.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
We use our homemade tomato sauce for all sorts so I usually make a big batch and freeze it in different sized portions – one size is ice cube size which is perfect for when we just need a small amount. Pizza toppings when only one person is having pizza, for example, a couple of ice cubes defrosted provides exactly the right amount of tomato sauce for the base.
I have a tub filled with little cranberry sauce ice cubes from when I made my homemade cranberry sauce as we rarely use cranberry sauce but a small amount is lovely when I make turkey meatballs.
I also have a tub filled with homemade windfall apple sauce but I think that’s getting a bit low now so I need to make a new batch at some point.
I did try freezing cubes of homemade cheese sauce but that was NOT a success!
I only do this in the Summer for some reason but I’ve frozen raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and even pineapple in water…
They look so cute in your Summer drinks!
Are you ready to revolutionise your meal planning with ice cube trays?
I’d definitely invest in some ice cube trays of different sizes and start making your own little freezer stash. I find the silicone ones work best and managed to get some smaller ones from the pound shop and the supermarket. For the larger size, I got some 2-inch cube ones from Amazon which work brilliantly for the things I want to freeze in slightly larger quantities.
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