Save food, save money, and save your sanity by preserving leftovers and stocking your freezer with already-prepped foods.

By Karla Walsh
October 01, 2020
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Americans waste a shocking amount of food, to the tune of $120 per family of four every month. One of the best ways to reduce your food waste is to freeze foods when they're at their prime or when they're fully prepared and ready to reheat and enjoy.

To help you make the most of each inch of your freezer and to extend the life of leftovers, we looked into what Allrecipes readers and Google users search for most frequently in terms of frozen food how-tos. Below, we have a guide for how to safely freeze the most common leftovers, from pancakes to pasta, so you'll have easy meals on-hand and no food waste:

Woman spooning meat into tupperware
Credit: BRETT STEVENS / Getty Images

How to Freeze Pancakes

One of the most popular and crowd-pleasing weekend breakfast dishes, you can absolutely enjoy a short stack of pancakes on even the busiest of weekdays if you store an already-made batch in the freezer.

Start with this recipe: Good Old Fashioned Pancakes

  • Follow the directions to cook the pancakes, then allow them to cool to room temperature.
  • Line a baking sheet or sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
  • Place the room temperature pancakes in a single, even layer on the sheet.
  • Transfer the pan to the freezer for 1 hour.
  • Remove the pan from the freezer and stack the frozen pancakes between parchment paper or plastic wrap.
  • Store the pancake stacks in a freezer-safe zip-top bag (such as these Up & Up Quart Freezer Bags, $6 for 75 on target.com).
  • Label the bag with the name of the recipe and the current date.
  • Enjoy within 2 months.
serving of World's Best Lasagna on a white plate with a fork
Credit: TheWickedNoodle

How to Freeze Lasagna

We're firm believers that cheesy casseroles are worth every minute of prep time, but some days you don't have 3 hours to dedicate to dinner. Enter: The freezer lasagna.

Start with this recipe: World's Best Lasagna

  • Follow the directions to cook the lasagna, then allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Cover the top of the lasagna and the baking dish with plastic wrap, then foil (to prevent freezer burn). Press the plastic wrap as close as possible to the cheesy surface and press the air out.
  • Alternatively, freeze single-serving portions by wrapping slices in plastic wrap, then foil, then place in a freezer-safe zip-top bag.
  • Label the bag with the name of the recipe and the current date.
  • Enjoy within 3 months.

How to Freeze Chocolate Chip Cookies

Channel your inner 8-year-old any old day by warming up a freshly-baked (okay, freshly-thawed) cookie from the freezer come snacktime.

Start with this recipe: Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Follow the directions to cook the cookies, then allow them to cool to room temperature.
  • Line a baking sheet or sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
  • Place the room temperature cookies in a single, even layer on the sheet.
  • Transfer the pan to the freezer for 1 hour.
  • Remove the pan from the freezer and transfer the frozen cookies to a freezer-safe zip-top bag.
  • Label the bag with the name of the recipe and the current date.
  • Enjoy within 3 months.
banana bread sliced on a wooden board
Credit: barbara

How to Freeze Banana Bread

Make the most of overripe bananas in the most delicious way possible.

Start with this recipe: Banana Banana Bread

  • Follow the directions to cook the bread, then allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Wrap the room temperature bread loaf with plastic wrap, then foil (to prevent freezer burn). Press the plastic wrap as close as possible to the surface and press the air out.
  • Alternatively, freeze slices by wrapping each individually in plastic wrap, then foil, then place in a freezer-safe zip-top bag.
  • Label the bag with the name of the recipe and the current date.
  • Enjoy within 3 months.

How to Freeze Homemade Pasta

Instead of opening a box of dry pasta, open your freezer and enjoy a big bowl of homemade noodles.

Start with this recipe: Basic Pasta Recipe

  • Follow the directions to cook the pasta, then allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Line a baking sheet or sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
  • Portion the noodles into one-cup servings in a single, even layer on the sheet.
  • Transfer the pan to the freezer for 15 minutes, or until the pasta is hard.
  • Remove the pan from the freezer and transfer each pasta portion into a separate small freezer-safe zip-top bag.
  • Label the bag with the name of the recipe and the current date.
  • Enjoy within 1 month.
Best Marinara Sauce Yet
Credit: Holiday Baker

How to Freeze Pasta Sauce

How about some homemade marinara to pair with your frozen pasta from above? Dig in to a fresh taste of summer even in winter by freezing your favorite sauce at peak season.

Start with this recipe: Best Marinara Sauce Yet

  • Follow the directions to cook the sauce, then allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Transfer the sauce to freezer-safe containers (like these OXO Good Grips Smart Seal Rectangular Glass Containers, $8.99 on bedbathandbeyond.com) in single-serving portions. Allow for enough room for the sauce to expand as it freezes.
  • Label the containers with the name of the recipe and the current date.
  • Enjoy within 3 months.

How to Freeze Brownies

Calling all chocoholics! Bake a whole pan of brownies, then freeze half for another time. This allows for built-in portion control—and a decadent treat to savor later.

Start with this recipe: Best Brownies

  • Follow the directions to cook the brownies, then allow them to cool to room temperature.
  • Cover the top of the brownies and the baking dish with plastic wrap, then foil (to prevent freezer burn). Press the plastic wrap as close as possible to the surface and press the air out.
  • Alternatively, freeze single-serving brownies by wrapping slices in plastic wrap, then foil, then place in a freezer-safe zip-top bag.
  • Label the bag with the name of the recipe and the current date.
  • Enjoy within 3 months.
A loaf of fluffy-looking white bread on a cutting board with two slices cut
Credit: Dianne

How to Freeze Sandwich Bread

Take a break from standard store-bought loaves and make your own bread (without feeling like you need to eat the whole thing today).

Start with this recipe: Amish White Bread

  • Follow the directions to cook the bread, then allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Wrap the room temperature bread loaf with plastic wrap, then foil (to prevent freezer burn). Press the plastic wrap as close as possible to the surface and press the air out.
  • Alternatively, freeze slices by wrapping each individually in plastic wrap, then foil, then place in a freezer-safe zip-top bag. (Or you can slice the loaf, press it back together in loaf form, then cover with plastic wrap and foil as explained above.)
  • Label the bag with the name of the recipe and the current date.
  • Enjoy within 3 months.

How to Freeze Cooked Rice

You'll never be more than minutes away from a starchy side or a five-star fried rice when you have some cooked rice in the freezer.

Start with this recipe: Basic White Rice

  • Follow the directions to cook the rice.
  • Line a baking sheet or sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
  • Place the rice in a thin, even layer on the sheet.
  • Allow the rice to rest on the pan and come to room temperature (which should take about 15 minutes).
  • Transfer the room temperature rice to a freezer-safe zip-top bags in single serving portions.
  • Label the bag with the name of the recipe and the current date.
  • Press as much air out as possible before sealing, then stack the rice portions on top of each other so they freeze flat.
  • Enjoy within 3 months.

How to Freeze Cooked Chicken

One of America's most popular proteins, chicken is a certified dinner winner. Bake it ahead for a quick-fix meal to replace your go-to takeout.

Start with this recipe: Simple Baked Chicken Breasts

  • Follow the directions to cook the chicken, then allow it to cool to room temperature (store in the refrigerator as it cools off).
  • Transfer the chicken to freezer-safe containers or zip-top bags in single-serving or family-size portions.
  • Label the containers or bags with the name of the recipe and the current date.
  • Enjoy within 3 months.

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