Monday, May 6, 2013

Ice Cube Trays Can Save You Money!

Do you have any ice cubes trays? Many people don't because most all refrigerators now have automatic ice dispensers. I do have ice cube trays - quite a few of them! My old refrigerator (I got a new one this past Black Friday) didn't have a working ice dispenser for the last five years I owned it. I was always making ice! I didn't toss those ice trays, I dutifully put them in the back of the kitchen cabinet even though I wasn't really sure when I would put them to use again.

Last week I was reading a post on The Parsimonious Princess about all the things you can do with ice cube trays to help you save money! All I can say here is no one person has a monopoly on good ideas! We can all learn from each other, and last week I learned how to squeeze a bit more out of my food budget by using ice cube trays! Wow! I pulled those trays out and immediately put them to work! 

Heather suggested you put leftover items in the trays to help with single serving uses. She recommends doing this for things like baby food, tomatoes, herbs, applesauce, chicken stock and more! She even has a link to other things you can use ice cube trays for. You can see her post here.

This got me thinking about what else I could use the ice cube trays for. This is the list I came up with last week:
  • Ketchup - this is a big waster in our house. I can my own, and we never use it all. We tend to use very small amounts when we do need it. The ice cube trays to the rescue! Individual cubes provide just enough ketchup for our needs and I don't waste any! 
BTW - homemade ketchup tastes better than anything you could buy at the store and it doesn't have any preservatives either! Since it doesn't have preservatives, the amount left in the jar won't last in the refrigerator like store bought does. The ice cube tray is the perfect answer!
  • Cookie Dough - I made a batch of whole wheat chocolate chip cookies (made with M&M's) for my husband. He only wanted a few and I knew the rest would not be eaten (or even worse - eaten simply because they were there). Instead, I put the dough in the ice cube trays! Once frozen, I moved them to a freezer bag. Next time someone wants a cookie, I can pop out some of the frozen cubes and bake them up without a fuss! If you are interested, you can see how to make the best ever whole wheat chocolate chip cookies here.
  • Preserves - I don't buy preserves. I don't like the store bought kind. I make my own. However, my problem with the preserves is the same one I have with ketchup. I use it for a few days, then I don't want to eat it again for a while. Without preservatives, the jar doesn't last long and usually ends up getting tossed. Then when I am ready to eat it again, I open a new jar and the process starts all over. So, last week I took the rest of the jar that was in the refrigerator and spooned it into the ice cube trays. Once frozen, I moved it to a freezer bag.  I haven't thawed any yet so I am not sure if the texture will come back. I will let you know what happens when I do. However, since I waste so much of this, I thought it was a good idea to give it a try.
  • Beef Broth Treats - This one isn't a new idea for me but I thought I would mention it. I usually make these every summer for Molly. She loves them when it is hot outside! I make the broth and separate out a cup (or so) for Molly. I usually add an equal amount of water and then freeze the mix. Note of warning if you make these - give them as a treat outside. Molly will roll the ice cube around in her mouth and make a big mess! No cleanup needed when she enjoys them outside!
I am going to be on the lookout for more things I can freeze in ice cube trays. If I can get more uses out of what is in the jar instead of pouring it down the sink, perhaps over time I will need less jars. Not only will this save money, but it will save me time if I don't have to can as many jars in a year.

How frugal is that!

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