While spending some quality time perusing the golden aisles of 7-Eleven this past week, I noted their large capacity ice cream freezer. True to my nature, I began running scenarios involving the Ocean’s Eleven crew stealing the freezer for me. I confess that the bond I have with my sad, small freezer rivals that of a tongue on a metal pole in a blizzard.
We go way back. My mom is queen of the freezer and has developed ways to freeze nearly every type of meal you thought possible.
Who buys pre-shredded cheese in bulk, separates it into Ziploc baggies and freezes it in handy sizes? Only my genius of a mother. You would be surprised what that massive, humming box can do for your college meals.
I didn’t inherit my mother’s intuition for great things to freeze. I give you Example A: mayonnaise. Bad news. Not sure why I felt compelled to chill that baby up, but a couple hours later the oil was in a super huge battle with the egg yolks. So, mayo is a ‘no-no’ in the freezer.
Also, milk does some crazy things when frozen. The temperature in my fridge got jacked up one afternoon somehow, freezing my poor half gallon. I tilted it slightly to enjoy a bowl of oatmeal and ended up almost cracking my wrist off. There was just a little water near the top where the fat separated, which was entirely gross.
A last thing not to stick in there: onions. During finals last semester, my roommate and I were all over the place, being forgetful and off the wall. First, a fork appeared on a shelf in the fridge. And then our ice cubes in the freezer took on a stench of old cheesesteaks left in somebody’s trunk, along with their sweaty baseball cleats. That sneaky onion half weaseled its way next to the waffle box, and, since then, we refuse to eat ice.
Despite my strike-outs in the sub-zero department, I’ve slowly developed some stupid-proof ways to utilize that energy-guzzling contraption. First of all, invest in some of those cheap plastic containers, either from Cool Whip products or the Gladware and Ziploc companies. They stack in the freezer and you can label them. If they crack in the freezer, they’re not expensive to replace either.
For a quick meat sauce, mix marinara sauce with cooked, drained, ground meat. Layer big scoops of the sauce in the container alternately with large pieces of plastic wrap. When you just want one serving, open the container and lift out a single ‘disc’ of frozen sauce. This works for just about any thick sauce, side dish or vegetable.
Like soup? Whip up a big batch and freeze in muffin tins or small cups lined with plastic wrap. Once frozen, pop them out like ice cubes and seal in a freezer bag for individual servings later.
As long as it’s sealed tightly, you have a good chance to deny the nasty freezer burn. Grilled chicken, cooked broccoli and asparagus, bread loaves, cheese (sliced or shredded like my mom does), containers of yogurt and baked goods hold up extremely well in those temperatures.
Smoothies are almost too easy to make with frozen fruit, ice or yogurt ice cubes. Letting the ingredients defrost a little bit beforehand will keep your blender from having a panic attack. Try frozen berries instead of plain ice cubes in cocktails. Easter candy will be going on sale soon – frozen Peeps marshmallows are actually amazing.
There’s so many other ways to make that PECO bill worth your while instead of just stocking up on some Chunky Monkey. Don’t be afraid of the igloo chamber above your fridge.
Brianna Barry can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.