Honestly, my go-to advice when anyone asks me for the smartest culinary trick up I have up my apron? I bulk-buy ‘n’ freeze. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know I love my freezer and often share nifty ideas on how to use left overs, stretch meals out or prolong produce by using this under-praised white good to its fullest potential (which is, in actuality, when it’s full – a full freezer is more energy efficient than an empty one, because solids freeze at a lower temperature than air, requiring less electricity.)
But today, let’s get nerdy with ice cube trays. Ice cube trays are handy little freezer gadgets. They’re great for the obvious, but also really helpful for storing leftovers.
Tip #1: I suggest you use silicone ice cube trays. They make it easier to remove things when frozen.
Tip #2: Once things are frozen, simply remove from the cubes and store them in ziplock bags, freeing up the tray for more foods.
Smart things to put in your ‘cube tray
1. Coconut water to use in your morning smoothies. Do the same with coconut milk or cream, and use in smoothies or add to curries. PS here’s why I prefer smoothies over juices.
2. Peanut-butter cups in individual serves. Try my recipe from I Quit Sugar.
3. Leftover herbs. Fill each hole of an ice cube tray about half way full with chopped herbs and top with leftover stock or olive oil. They keep indefinitely and you can pop them out once frozen and store them in a ziplock bag. Toss them into soups, sauces and stir fries. Hard herbs like oregano, sage, thyme and rosemary work best for this.
4. Leftover avocado. Puree avocado with coconut water and/or cream and a little lime juice. Freeze in cubes to pop out and blend with extra greens for a nutritious smoothie.
5. Goitrogens. I sometimes puree my par-cooked and frozen broccoli florets, kale and spinach and freeze in an ice cube tray, ready to add to a morning smoothie. Steamed cruciferous vegetables have a lot less goitrogens in them than when left raw.
6. Homemade chocolate. It’s the perfect size for an after dinner treat. (Find the recipe in my eBook dedicated to chocolate.)
7. Berries with coconut cream. Pop a few berries in the tray and top with cream for a great snack for a hot day.
8. Homemade tomato sauce. There’s a sugar-free tomato sauce recipe in I Quit Sugar For Life.
9. Edible flowers. Place a few into the cubes and fill with water. Adds a nice touch when you’re looking for ways to jazz up your water.
10. Grated zucchini. Freeze zucchini (grated or cubed) ready to “dense”-out meat dishes, omelettes or soups.
12. Homemade dips… and use them to add flavour to a dish. There are lots of great recipes in I Quit Sugar For Life.
13. About-to-turn yoghurt. A great way to avoid wastage; keep for smoothies or desserts.
14. Diced lemon. Fill each cube half way and top with water. Pop lemon ice cubes in your water in summer.
15. Onion and garlic. Pop into cubes with a little stock over the top. Use to flavour dishes when cooking.
16. Leftover stock or wine. Great for deglazing.
17. Here’s an unusual one: Store paint in each cube and stick a paddle pop stick in. Once frozen, allow the kids to paint with the frozen paint stick and watch as it melts onto the paper. Brilliant!
Got any ideas that aren’t on this list? Feel free to share them below.