9 Surprising Foods You Can Freeze to Prevent Waste

Don't throw any more of your groceries (or money) in the trash.


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The price of groceries continues to rise, which may prompt you to re-prioritize your grocery list, tighten your food budget, repurpose leftovers, and do your best to reduce food waste. Freezing food that you can't eat right away can also be a great strategy to prevent throwing your groceries (and money spent on them) in the trash. And there may be some items that you didn't even know you could freeze.

Below, asked culinary pros to share surprising foods you can freeze for future use.

Grains like quinoa and rice

These food staples can be frozen cooked or uncooked. “Freezing cooked grains is a great way to have meals on hand when you don't have time to cook from scratch,” says Jeanette Kimszal, a registered dietitian in the New York metro area and food blogger with The Radiant Root. If you want to eat the cold grains in a salad, you should let them defrost first, she explains, but if you want to eat the grains warm, you can place the frozen grains in a little bit of water and heat them up.

Nuts, seeds, and nut flour

According to Kimszal, the fat in nuts and seeds can go rancid sitting on the shelf, so if you have a large bag of these foods and don't want them to expire before you get a chance to eat them, you can freeze what you don't eat. “The same can be said for nut flours,” she explains, adding that you should defrost the nuts and seeds before you consume them.


Cheese can be expensive, and sometimes the amount you need for a recipe is less than the pre-portioned amount you find at the store. So, freezing the extra can come in handy—but not all cheeses freeze the same. Hard cheeses, like cheddar and parmesan, are better candidates for freezing, and you can thaw them out in the fridge for a day to use them raw or cooked into a dish. Soft cheeses, like brie and ricotta, however, can have a harder time maintaining their texture, so you probably won't want to freeze them and then eat them as is. You can, however, freeze and reheat soft cheeses that are part of an assembled dish, like a lasagna or pizza.


“Mushrooms are a food that tends to go bad quickly—freezing can help prevent spoilage,” says Kimszal. However, an important note about freezing mushrooms: You should cook them first. While they can be frozen uncooked, mushrooms are about 80 to 90 percent water, so their texture can be affected a good amount if you don't sauté or steam them before putting them in the freezer.

Frozen mushrooms can be great to have on hand when preparing soups and stews. “You can plop them right into the pot frozen,” Kimszal says. 

Lemons and limes

Lemon and limes can be costly and they're often sold in large quantities. If you plan to freeze lemons or limes, consider zesting them first, as the citrus zest can be frozen in a bag and used as needed when cooking and baking. For the rest of the citrus, you can freeze the fruit whole, in wedges, or squeeze the juice into ice cube trays to use pre-portioned amounts. “You can add these to juices, smoothies, salad dressings, and sautés,” Kimszal says.

Jalapeños and other chili peppers

Alex Guzman, chef and owner of Archer & Goat in New York City, says freezing jalapeños and other chili peppers retains the flavor and makes it convenient to add to recipes. “They can be easily frozen whole or chopped/sliced and can keep for up to a year in the freezer,” Guzman says. “When making chilis, soups, and stews, you can simply add them to the recipe while still frozen.”

Fresh herbs

To reduce waste, freeze your fresh herbs for future use. “Most people buy a bunch when they only need a few sprigs and end up wasting the rest,” says Fred Scarpulla, chief culinary officer with Amy’s Kitchen, a leader in organic and vegetarian frozen foods. “Whatever the herb is, de-stem and then freeze them in ice cube trays with a small amount of cold water.”

When you’re ready to use, Scarpulla says to thaw them out and let the water drain off. “Now you have beautiful fresh-ish herbs you can use, just like you would use them fresh,” he says.


Eva De Angelis, a licensed dietitian nutritionist from Argentina and a health and nutrition writer at Healthcanal.com, explains that while you can keep ginger in the fridge, it may dry out or mold if it’s there for a long time. “So, I wash it, dry it, cut it into thumb-size pieces, and freeze it in a zip-lock bag to keep it fresh for longer,” she says. “This way I have ginger on hand to add to stir-fries, teas, and lemonades. You can grate it straight from the freezer, skin and all, zero fuss,” De Angelis says.


The shelf life of avocados can be tricky, and since many of us buy them in larger quantities, they may go bad before you can use them all. Olivia Roszkowski, chef-instructor of Plant-Based Culinary Arts at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, says to peel and dice a ripe avocado, then lay the pieces flat onto a parchment-lined tray and freeze. “Once the pieces are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container to store,” she says.

To use frozen, Roszkowski says to blend the frozen avocado into smoothies and baked good batters, use it to emulsify a green goddess dressing, or to thicken creamy, chilled soups.

If you want to thaw frozen avocados, she says to allow them to sit on the counter to defrost. “Then, use the avocado to create a dip such as guacamole or a flavorful spread for a sandwich or wrap,” suggests Roszkowski.

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