Friday, November 14, 2008

Frozen Assets – Part 3: Using Up Bakery Items

As you have learned from the past two posts (Part 1 & Part 2) in the “Using it Up” portion of this series, there are many great ways to use produce. Now, let’s take a look at bakery items.

Hamburger Buns – There’s nothing like a grilled burger on a warm summer night. But, if you are like our family, you don’t always have hamburger buns on hand. In the past, I would buy a pack of buns if we were planning to grill burgers that week, but to make the most of the pack of buns, we’d have to grill at least twice that week to use them all up. Often half the pack would get moldy before we got around to using them. This summer, we learned to use our freezer to “save our buns.” When we buy buns, we use them for the first meal, and then we freeze the rest. The next time we grill, I take them out a few minutes in advance, brush them with a little butter and toss them on the grill. Not only are the toasted buns tasty, but you can’t tell that they were previously frozen. Since we began doing this, we haven’t thrown away any moldy buns and we always have buns on hand without having to run to the store.

Muffins - If you are a warehouse club member, you’re probably familiar with the giant package of warehouse club bakery muffins. These muffins are huge, and unless you have a large family, it would be difficult to use up all 12 before they go bad. To make the most of them, the Diva family leverages the freezer. We buy a package of muffins at Costco, cut them in half, and package them in 24 sandwich size freezer bags. Next, we toss the smaller bags into a few large freezer bags, and then we put them in the freezer. These are easy to grab when on the go and only take an hour or less to thaw, so they make great mid-morning snacks for work. As an added bonus, they seem to come out moister than before they were frozen. Dinner Rolls and Breads – Having dinner rolls or French bread on hand is a great way to round out a meal. However, similar to hamburger buns, it’s not always practical to use up fresh rolls and breads without any waste. That’s why we buy the large packages of ciabatta rolls, dinner rolls, and double loafs of French bread, and then store them in the freezer. Bakery breads do dry out and can get freezer burned rather quickly, so we use them within a few weeks. I also pre-slice the rolls and divide the bread into meal-sized portions before freezing. When I’m ready to use them, I just take them out, let them thaw a bit, then spread with a little butter, garlic, or cheese and broil for a few minutes.

That’s it for the “Using It Up” portion of this series. Now for your feedback. What do you freeze and how has that helped you to stretch your family budget? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail and share your tips. Finding this series helpful? If so, leave me a comment.

Up Next: The second half of the Frozen Assets series kicks off next week – Store It Up. I’ll share tips and tricks on how the Diva family uses their freezer to get meals on the table in a flash.

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