How To Stock Your Freezer

Freezers, believe it or not, are good for holding more than bottles of vodka and pints of ice cream. In fact, by keeping a few key staples packed away, you might just save yourself a trip to the grocery when it's time to whip up dinner.

In addition to frozen fruits and vegetables, which come in handy for recipes such as soups, dips, casseroles and delicious morning smoothies, there are other ingredients that can be repurposed. By storing items like leftover bones and vegetables scraps in reusable plastic bags, you can easily utilize them for other recipes when the time is right.

① Rotisserie Chicken Carcasses

This one's a no-brainer: Instead of throwing out that leftover chicken carcass after a Sunday-night roast, put it in a sealed plastic bag and stick it in the freezer to use later to make stock. Chicken stock is a staple for any kitchen, and leftover bones are your secret weapon for making a homemade broth you can use in all types of recipes.

② Seafood Bones and Shells

You can also use leftover seafood to flavor soups or make stock. Make sure the shells are stored in close-fitting, moisture-proof containers and are placed on top of other items so they don't get crushed by the weight. In case you want to use the different shells for different recipes, it's best to store them separately.

③ Vegetable Scraps

Similar to chicken and fish bones, leftover veggie scraps like corn and carrots can be turned into favorable vegetarian-friendly stocks. Make sure they are washed and cleaned before freezing them, and then the next time you want to make spring vegetable fideos, you're halfway there.

④ Parmesan Rinds

Once you've worn down a hunk of cheese like Parmesan, keep the rind to amp up your broth, or flavor soups, stews and tomato sauces while they're cooking.

⑤ Overripe Bananas

Give those bananas a second life by turning them into a loaf of moist banana bread or tossing them in a blender for an easy five-ingredient banana smoothie.

⑥ Bread

Especially for single-person households, storing leftover bread in the freezer means you won't have to watch it go moldy quicker than you can BLT. Lightly toast the frozen bread in a 350-to-450-degree oven to bring back its texture. Alternatively, the next time you run out of bread crumbs, simply thaw a few pieces and pulse them in a food processor.