As part of HuffPost’s “Reclaim” project, HuffPost Taste will focus the entire month of July on simple ways you can reduce food waste in your own home.
We've told you which foods should never be frozen -- and stand by those rules.
But the freezer remains a highly useful member of your kitchen appliance family, and should be treated as such. Since a full freezer is more economical to run, there's nothing stopping you from buying in bulk -- especially when there's a sale -- and properly storing for later use. Generally, that means using resealable bags or freezer-safe plastic containers labeled with the date of storage and separated out into realistic portions. Meats, dairy, and some vegetables should not be re-frozen if you've got leftovers.
Here's how to make the most out of whatever freezer space you've got. Believe it or not, you can store...
1. Fresh corn on the cob
Don't you wish for sweet and sun-kissed corn on the cob in the gray and gloomy days of winter? Fresh-picked corn from a farmer's market can last the better part of a year if you get it in the freezer right away -- husk and all. If you buy it from a traditional grocery store, however, you'll want to husk and blanch it before freezing, to stop enzymes that cause a loss of flavor and color.
2. Avocados for guacamole
We know how much y'all love your guacamole and are probably panicking at the thought of an avocadapocalypse. Breathe. While thawed avocados aren't so great for eating plain on, say, a salad, because the freezing process changes their consistency, they'll still make for a good dip! Wash and halve the fruits before peeling, then either freeze as halves or puree with an acid, like lime or lemon, and store in resealable bags for up to eight months.
How much hummus can you eat in four months? Probably a lot. And no one's judging you for that. So go out and buy a bunch of hummus. Scoop it into freezer-safe containers. Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on it so it doesn't dry out and, when you want to dig in, thaw it in the fridge for a day before mixing it up really well.
4. Cloves of garlic
Chop them and stick them in the freezer. Or don't. Freeze it whole. Whatever, man. You can also preserve garlic in olive oil, but you've got to be careful, because the National Center for Home Food Preservation has suggested it may foster botulism when stored at room temperature. The mixture can be stored in the freezer safely for a few months, however.
A few bags of chips might get snapped up quickly at a barbecue or in a house where any number of teenage boys are present, but for others of us, a partially eaten bag of chips can go stale pretty fast. Good thing you can stick them in the freezer -- and they take only minutes to defrost.
6. Buttermilk for baking
Since they've yet to start selling buttermilk by the teeny-tiny portion you actually use, take comfort in the fact that you can freeze whatever you don't use for about three months. As with most dairy products, the consistency of buttermilk changes slightly after freezing, but it's still fine for use in recipes after thawing in the fridge. You can also freeze one-tablespoon amounts in an ice cube tray for easier measuring. Once frozen, transfer the buttermilk cubes to a resealable bag.
Like many foods, flour lasts longer in the freezer. Surprised? Maybe not. But have you been keeping flour in your pantry all this time? That's what we thought. Most bakers prefer to keep their flour frozen, as cold ingredients make for a flakier pastry crust.
8. Organic peanut butter
Most commercial peanut butters have at least a year-long shelf life, so freezing isn't that necessary. But maybe you rarely eat the stuff and it was on sale, so you bought a bunch. Good news -- HuffPost Taste discovered that frozen organic peanut butter left to thaw on a desk tasted perfectly fine.
9. Eggs without shells
Frozen eggs with shells will crack and possibly create a disgusting, eggy mess around all of your ice creams. Instead, crack them into a bowl and mix with a pinch of salt -- careful not to whip too much air into the mixture -- to prevent the yolks from clumping when thawed. Store a couple eggs' worth (or however many you may need at a time) in individual resealable bags for up to a year.
10. Cooked rice and pasta
Freezer meals are nothing new, but you may be surprised to learn that you can also save time by cooking large batches of plain pasta or rice at once and freezing it in individual portions for later use. When you're ready to eat, sprinkle with a bit of water and heat it up in the microwave.
11. Chicken broth
Chicken broth doesn't last very long in the fridge, but in the freezer it can last four to six months. Just don't store it in the can. Don't do it. Even opened cans may present a health hazard, so transfer anything you plan on freezing to an airtight, freezer-safe container.
As with avocados, a pesto habit can get expensive. Luckily you can keep store-bought or homemade varieties in the freezer for months at a time. Just make sure the container isn't too full or there won't be room for expansion.
13. Pasta sauce and tomato paste
Tomato paste is another one of those things that's just impossible to find in the correct portion size for you. So go ahead and freeze the rest. Again, just don't be that guy (or gal) who stores it in the can.
14. Herbs in olive oil
Putting herbs in the freezer isn't a great idea, since they'll come out limp and lacking flavor. Storing them in olive oil, however, is a different story. (Sure, you can buy them pre-made, but they don't take that long to make yourself.) Chop herbs and add to an ice tray, then cover them with olive oil, leaving a bit of room at the top for expansion. Once frozen, your herb cubes can be transferred to a resealable bag and dropped straight into soups and frying pans.
Like other dry goods, these can be frozen for months at a time. To revive them -- since they may dry out a bit -- just microwave in a damp paper towel.
16. Homemade cookie dough
Maybe you love fresh-baked cookies, yet are faced with the dilemma of whether to make an entire batch without enough other people around to gobble them up. We have your solution: Make a full batch of dough, then freeze it into individual globs on a baking sheet. Once they're frozen, transfer to a resealable bag and voilá! Bake as many or as few cookies at a time as you wish.
Chocolate is a finicky thing -- sticking it straight into the freezer from room temperature can cause it to become brittle and crumbly. And profoundly disappointing when you're craving chocolate, which is as underrated a tragedy as we've ever heard. The trick is to cool it down slowly. Refrigerate first, then transfer to the freezer for up to six months.
All images via Getty.