09 August 2013

5 Ways an Ice Cube Tray Can Save Your Grocery Budget

Every household has at least one lurking in the freezer to the back of a kitchen cupboard. It may come out in summer, but once the weather cools down it's forgotten again.

The humble ice cube tray can do so much more in the kitchen than make ice cubes.

Freezing your leftover food into cubes will save you a lot of money. Food cubes are all the rage at the moment (have you seen the frozen smoothie cubes and the frozen baby food cubes in the supermarket? Have you seen the price of them!) so save yourself time, and money and make your own with food you know you use.

Here are five ways you can use your ice cube tray that will help to keep your grocery budget on track and save you money, time, energy and waste.

Tomato Paste - Just about everyone knows this tip, but it's too good to not include. Recipes always seem to need just one or two tablespoons of tomato paste but those little tubs and jars hold so much more. You can put it in the fridge, but it does go mouldy very quickly. Spoon the leftover paste into your ice cube tray and freeze. One block is the equivalent of one tablespoon so next time you cook you can easily take one or two tomato paste cubes and add them to your recipe. And no more mouldy tomato paste.

- The standard for any roast, often there is a little gravy left in the bottom of the gravy boat. Don't throw it into the compost, freeze it in ice cub trays. You then have gravy you can quickly thaw and heat for sandwiches or potatoes or anything else that needs gravy. Use the gravy cubes as the sauce for pie fillings or add a little water or vegetable broth to thin it down and use it as stock.

Leftover coffee or tea
- If you have a little left in the coffee or tea pot freeze it. Those cubes will come in very handy in a few weeks when the weather warms up to make iced coffee or iced tea. Use them to flavour icings or to replace some of the liquid in muffins and cakes.

Herbs - Whether you grow your own or buy them, herbs don't keep well in the fridge. Chop them and then freeze them in water in ice cube trays ready to just add to your favourite recipe. Mint, chives, parsley and basil all freeze well in cubes, ready to add to soups and sauces. No more limp herbs and no more money in the bin.

Stock - When you make stock freeze some in cubes. You can then add one or two to rice or pasta or couscous to add a little flavour, or use it to flavour gravy and sauces. They are also handy when you have a recipe that needs just a little stock.

Some Ideas for Storing and Using Your Cubes

You need to be a little organized when you freeze food in cubes, or you'll just end up with a huge pile of UFOs (unidentified frozen objects) in your freezer, and that just defeats the purpose doesn't it?

After your cubes are frozen, pop them out of the trays and put them straight into ziplock bags or Tupperware or other freezer containers for long-term storage. This will keep like cubes with like and reduce the chances of freezer burn or stray cubes in the bottom of the freezer.

I'm a huge fan of the Sharpie and I suggest you use one to label your bags of cubes. Don't write directly onto a freezer container though, it won't come off. Stick some masking tape or a freezer label on the seal and one side and write on the label. I use two labels because if containers are stacked in the small fridge freezer compartment I can't easily see the lid, ditto if they are stacked in the chest freezer I can't easily see the side. Being able to see what's in the container means I don't have to do the freezer shuffle to find what I want.

Some measurements to make using your cubes easy:
  • 1 regular sized ice cube compartment holds 2 tablespoons of liquid.
  • 2 cubes is the equivalent of 1/4 cup of liquid
  • 4 cubes is the equivalent of 1/2 cup of liquid
  • 8 cubes is the equivalent of 1 cup of liquid
Knowing this makes it easy to pull out the right number of cubes for your recipe.

I'm sure you have other ways an ice cube tray can keep your grocery budget in check, share them below!


  1. hevva@bigpond.net.auFriday, August 09, 2013

    Garlic and Ginger both lend themselves beautifully to freezing...peel and chop/grind...I use a food processer and do a big batch... put in labelled bags or a freezer container... then just pop a cube into whatever you are cooking. Saves so much time! Heather on the Gold Coast

  2. Ice cube trays are excellent too, for lemon juice, cream and sour cream, alas past use by date thats quite Ok to use in cooking

    1. I also utilise the ice cube trays quite a lot. I make a large batch of basil pesto when basil decides to take over the garden, then just freeze in trays. Can be used as a dip, sandwich spread, add to casseroles or soups to enhance their flavour. There are a multitude of uses. Lynne


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