10+ Freezer Hacks for (Gluten Free) Healthy Eating

As a grad student who's also working three jobs, juggling two chronic illnesses and trying not to go crazy (errr...okay, crazier), healthy eating hacks are a MUST. And since people have been loving when I share some of these freezer hacks for healthy eating on my Instagram stories, I thought I'd write a blog post on the topic!

In particular, this post is all about highlighting 10+ healthy foods that you might not know you could freeze...but are totally delicious when reheated! From hummus to homemade granola to smoothies, this post will give you some new ways to think about how to take advantage of your freezer.

10+ Freezer Hacks for (Gluten Free) Healthy Eating

So whether you're super busy with work or school, want to save money by reducing your food waste or just need some easy tips for eating a lil' healthier...I hope you enjoy reading about these 10+ freezer hacks for healthy (gluten free) eating.

1. Tomato/pasta sauce

This was the first official "freezer hack" I shared on my Instagram, and it's an awesome way to keep pasta sauce from going bad if you are cooking for one or only use a small amount of pasta sauce at a time.

As I wrote in my post about unique ways to reduce food waste, the process is simple: start by grabbing your tomato sauce and a large, airtight plastic bag. Then pour the sauce inside the bag, spreading out the sauce so it coats the whole bag in a shallow layer. Place the closed bag in your freezer and let it freeze just like that so that you end up with a thin sheet of tomato sauce. And on the nights you're craving some and want just a small amount, you can "crack" the sheet and defrost your desired size of frozen sauce. Just place the sauce layer in a microwave-safe bowl, defrost it for a few minutes and dig in!

10+ Freezer Hacks for (Gluten Free) Healthy Eating

2. Hummus

Who would've thunk that hummus is so dang delicious defrosted?!? The hummus gods shined down on me in 2018 and I won several hummus giveaways...leading to hummus towers like the one pictured below ending up in my kitchen! Since I love hummus but couldn't get through that stack right away, I threw some of them in my freezer. And a few months later, I discovered I could take one out, defrost the hummus in the fridge overnight and then enjoy some cold and creamy dip the next day.

I've tried this technique with Blue Moose of Boulder, Ithica Cold-Crafted and Lantana Foods hummuses with success, as well as the infamously delicious almond-based Bitchin' Sauce. So if you happen to end up with a fridge-full of hummus - or just see that your fave brand is on sale and can't resist stocking up - the freezer is def your friend.

10+ Freezer Hacks for (Gluten Free) Healthy Eating

3. Avocado

Now, I'm not gonna say that frozen and defrosted avocado slices have the same texture as fresh avocados. However, they are still quite delicious in their own right...and you won't even notice the texture if you use the defrosted avocado in guac or smoothies.

Like I've explained before, I've found that the best way to freeze avocado is by first washing it, cutting it open lengthwise, as usual, and removing the pit. Then cut large slices out of each half, scoop them out of the peel and freeze them in a plastic bag. When you want to dive into your frozen avocado stash, pull out however many slices you want for that particular meal (dethaw the avocado around 20 minutes before you want to eat, and not too much longer!). Place your avocado slices in a cup of very cold water and let them thaw until soft. You know what to do next: eat!

10+ Freezer Hacks for (Gluten Free) Healthy Eating

4. Shredded vegan cheese and homemade vegan cheese sauce

Ever since dairy and I broke up after my celiac diagnosis, I've always had a package of dairy free cheese in my fridge. I've been a long-time Daiya cheese fan, but have also really enjoyed Follow Your Heart's and So Delicious's vegan shredded cheese. Because I don't use that much cheese at a time, though, I used to struggle with the cheese going bad before I get to the end of the bag.

That's where my handy dandy freezer came in. Nowadays, I keep the shredded cheese packs in my freezer, and when I want to use it, I just take out the package, get however much I need and put those frozen shreds directly into my dish. This works great for meals like pizza, mac n' cheese or queso that are going to be heated anyway to finish cooking or incorporating all the ingredients. And while I can't say this technique works for every vegan cheese brand out there, it has worked well for all three of the brands I mentioned above!

10+ Freezer Hacks for (Gluten Free) Healthy Eating

But if processed vegan cheese ain't your thang...my homemade vegan cheese sauce freezes and defrosts super well, too! The ingredients will separate if just defrosted in the fridge, on the counter or in the microwave. But if you defrost it part-way in the microwave and the rest of the way in a slow cooker (for mac and cheese, for instance!) or in a pan on the stove, it is creamy, dreamy goodness.

5. Homemade granola

As anyone who has followed this blog for a long time knows, a big part of my diet (and probably my body, haha!) is composed of homemade granola. It’s just such a perfect way to sneak in hidden veggies and use of leftover vegetable seeds, ripe fruit or even failed baked goods.

When I had two gum graft surgeries and needed to avoid solid foods and crunchy foods for two weeks, though, I ended up throwing my leftover granola in the freezer. That’s when I discovered that my homemade granola freezes and defrosts crazy well!

10+ Freezer Hacks for (Gluten Free) Healthy Eating

So if you want to have an easy, healthy snack or breakfast always waiting for you in the freezer, try meal prepping one of my many gluten free and vegan granola recipes. Once it has cooled, place your granola in a sealed plastic bag and put it into the freezer. Then once you want to dig in, just defrost however much granola you want to eat by placing it in the fridge. 

A few hours later, and wala! Your granola may taste a bit softer, but still has a good crunch and chewiness. Plus it tastes just as flavorful as it did freshly baked!

6. Smoothies

As all of my college roommates soon discovered, I’m also addicted to making big batches of smoothies that I then freeze and enjoy on busy mornings or night before/after class. 

Freeing and defrosting smoothies is pretty simple, but this freezer hack starts with whipping up a good amount of your favorite smoothie. And if you need some healthy smoothie recipe ideas, check out my recipe page! Then, pour your smoothie into a freezer and microwave safe container. Personally, I like to use glass rubbermaid containers and glass mason jars.
One very important note: make sure you leave enough space in your bowl or jar for the smoothie to expand as it freezes. Otherwise, it will crack the glass! Because of this, I don’t put lids on my mason jars. Instead, I just put open plastic bags over the tops so that the smoothie has plenty of space to expand.

10+ Freezer Hacks for (Gluten Free) Healthy Eating

To defrost your smoothie, you can leave it in the fridge overnight to start defrosting on its own and then use the microwave as needed, or use the microwave straight out of the freezer. The amount of time and power level you use to defrost your smoothie will depend on the microwave, but I typically use a combination of the “defrost” button (for around 2 minutes) and then microwave it at power 4 for around 4 minutes. But I do like to keep my smoothies a little icy and eat them with a spoon. So I’d suggest just experimenting with what defrosting method works for you! 

Then all you have to do is add whatever toppings you like (if you’re a smoothie topping lover like me!) and enjoy.

7. Homemade, pre-roasted fries and potato wedges

I love making healthy options to fast food fries by just roasting my own potato fries or wedges. However, especially depending on the potato you’re using, homemade fries can take a decent amount of time to bake...which is where this healthy eating freezer hack comes in

All you have to do is make a big batch of potato wedges, just like usual. (And if you need instructions on how to do that, just google “homemade potato wedges” or check out my recipe here). Then, after your fries have cooled, place them in sealed plastic bags in your freezer. 

10+ Freezer Hacks for (Gluten Free) Healthy Eating

At that point, whenever you want to dig into some fries, all you need to do is grab however many you want, place them on a baking tray and broil them for 2-5 minutes or until they are warmed through and crispy. Serve with some protein, veggies and a killer dipping sauce and dinner is served!

8. Steamed and roasted vegetables

Now, I know this hack may sound a little obvious, especially since you can find cooled vegetables in most freezer aisles. However, if a bunch of fresh produce happens to be on sale one day and you load up, don’t forget that you can cook veggies like sliced zucchini, spaghetti squash or green beans and then freeze them to enjoy later. 

Now, some vegetables defrost better than others. For example, I’ve found that butternut squash can get a little watery when defrosted. However, I regularly freeze and defrost spaghetti squash when I don’t feel like eating a whole huge squash on my own in one week. I just let one half of the squash cool, freeze it in a sealed bag, and later defrost it by leaving it in my fridge and warming it up in the oven with fillings and toppings.

10+ Freezer Hacks for (Gluten Free) Healthy Eating

When I’m going away for a trip and know it’ll be a few days until I can go to the grocery store when I get back, I also freeze steamed zucchini and leftover lettuce. The first I often eat plain with dinner, just defrosted in the microwave, but the latter is perfect for green-ifying a smoothie with limited ingredients on hand. 

9. Rice, quinoa and other grains.

I love me some rice, quinoa, buckwheat or other gluten free grains...but I don't always love how long they can take to cook. My solution has been cooking gluten free grains in bulk and then - of course - using my freezer to store the extras.

10+ Freezer Hacks for (Gluten Free) Healthy Eating

If, like me, you live alone or only cook for a small number of people, here's the best way to freeze your grains: let them cool and then use the same technique as I describe for the pasta sauce. In other words, place them in a large plastic bag, spreading the grains out so that they form a thin layer in the whole bag. That way, it's super easy to just break off a portion of your "block" of grains and only defrost how much you need, either by letting it defrost on its own in the fridge or popping your block of grains into the microwave in a microwave-safe container.

10. Brownies, bagels, breads and many other gluten free baked goods.

Eating gluten free can be expensive...so when there's a good deal on my favorite gluten free bread or baked good, I always stock up! That's why I've learned that the freeze comes in very handy when you're trying to preserve the freshness of gluten free baked goods.

I've had very good luck freezing gluten free breads like Canyon Bakehouse and BFree Foods. I've also frozen and dethawed cookies, brownies and cinnamon rolls from some of my favorite bakeries, like the Gluten Escape, Sweet Elizabeth's Organics and Coquette's Bistro and Bakery. Most of the time, I just take out my bread or treat and let it defrost naturally in the fridge or on the counter...and then dig in!

10+ Freezer Hacks for (Gluten Free) Healthy Eating

(As always, some foods and brands freeze better than others. So when in doubt, I'd check that company's website to see if they mention freezing or Google it and see what others have written in reviews!)

The Bottom Line of Healthy Eating and Freezer Food

Food from the freezer often gets a bad rap for being "less fresh" or "less healthy" than unfrozen foods. However, as this post shows, your freezer can actually be a MAJOR secret weapon when it comes to following a healthy diet. Plus, you can freeze a lot more food than you probably ever imagined.

So the next time you have a lot of extra gluten free bread, want to meal prep a bunch of healthy fries or have more hummus than you know what to do with, I hope the freezer hacks I shared in this post give you some new ideas!


What's your favorite thing to freeze? Tell me in the comments! 

Comments

  1. Who knew you could freeze hummus? Next time it's on sale, I'll stock up.

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  2. Ever heard of seed cheese? It's part of the raw vegan diet. One of the few things I actually miss from that diet. Basically, you use fermented grain (it can be rice, but traditionally, of course they use a gluten grain), the liquid from it, to sour some ground sesame seeds or cashews. let it develop flavor and then squeeze like you would actual cheese into a sliceable mass. The taste is really good. I don't think it has melting properties though. Processed cheeses and I don't mix. Just substitute brown rice for the wheat berries: http://www.living-foods.com/recipes/wigmore.html

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