Once upon a time, I had a hard time using up a loaf of bread before it went bad. Nowadays, with a crew of hungry kids, I'm lucking if a loaf of bread lasts one sitting. Either way, freezing baked goods come to the rescue.
If yours is a small household that might not use baked goods quickly, the freezer can help you extend the shelf life of your favorite goodies so that you have time to enjoy them. For the larger family, the freezer can enable you to do some "bulk baking" and get ahead of the game, even if just a little.
When my first born was just a little guy, he and I would spend Monday mornings baking. Together, we'd make muffins, banana bread, and chocolate cake. Once everything had cooled — and we'd taste-tested everything — I'd slice the breads and cakes and package them in individual servings for the freezer. In this way, we had quick snacks for home while my husband could pack his lunch for work fairly easily.
Baking to freeze has not only saved us money, but it's also enabled us to have sweet treats at the ready whenever we want them. While pretty much anybody knows that you can throw a bag of cookies in the freezer, you may be pleasantly surprised at the range of baked goods you can freeze, as well as how you can freeze them.
10 Baked Goods I Love to Freeze
1. Cinnamon Rolls
I know that it seems hard to believe that a full sheet pan of cinnamon rolls could ever be too many, but sometimes, you just need a few. By all means, freeze a few pans full, but then freeze a few bags full.
Bags? Yes! My friend Amy showed me the trick to freezing cinnamon rolls conveniently. Open freeze the individual rolls and then once firm, store them in a freezer bag. Pull as many as you want to bake tomorrow and let them thaw overnight in the fridge.
→ Get a full tutorial: How To Freeze Cinnamon Rolls and Bake Them Later
2. Quick Breads
Quick breads, like banana, pumpkin, or carrot, are great for freezing. Bake several loaves. Eat one and freeze the others, tightly wrapped with plastic and then slipped inside a freezer bag.
3. Hamburger Buns
→ Make homemade burger buns: How to Make Your Own Hamburger Buns
4. Muffins (and Muffin Mix)
While you can certainly freeze your baked muffins for a later date, consider freezing the muffin mix instead. Storing a homemade baking mix in the freezer extends its shelf life, allowing you to use whole grain flours without fear of them going rancid. Opting for a mix over a baked muffin allows you all kinds of versatility on the day of baking.
Leggo the Eggo, folks. You can make your own waffles, bigger and badder than the frozen variety. Cook up a favorite batch of waffles, cool them on a rack, and store them in ziptop freezer bags. Cook them lightly so that you can thaw/reheat in the toaster on the day of serving.
Scones are one of my favorite treats in the whole world. I love them for their versatility. You can freeze them as a mix, baked, or unbaked. The first two methods are pretty self-explanatory.
If you want to freeze unbaked scones, lay them on a lined tray that will fit your freezer. Freeze until firm, them place them in a freezer bag or sealed container in the freezer. I love to pop the frozen scones in the oven first thing in the morning and have them done by the time my shower is.
If breakfast is a hurried — or nonexistent — affair for you, then baking to freeze is a great strategy to take advantage. Just like with waffles, pancakes can be easily frozen. Bake up a big batch, cool them on a rack, and wrap short stacks with plastic wrap. Place all the wrapped stacks in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer. Reheating can be as simple as popping them in the microwave or toaster oven.
Focaccia is one of my favorite breads to make from scratch. It is cheap to make, yet it tastes like a million bucks. Garlic Focaccia is a huge hit at our house, perfect for sandwiches, pizzas, and the bread basket. Form the dough into 8-inch pans and it will fit perfectly in a gallon-size freezer bag. Be sure to cool completely before freezing, but rest assured that it will thaw quickly when it's time to eat.
9. Energy Bars
In the old days, "energy bars" were baked goods full of whole grains, nuts, and a little fruit, a little different from the fruit-and-nut-based bars of today. Either way, they both freeze well.
Like I said, everyone knows you can throw a batch of cookies in the freezer. But, consider freezing the dough in a sealed container (like that band fundraiser you just contributed to) or in individual, unbaked cookie balls (like the yellow package in the freezer section). There is more than one way to freeze a cookie — and all of them are tasty.
→ Freeze your cookie dough: How To Freeze Cookie Dough
Baking to freeze is a great way to make homemade more of a habit. It allows you to customize your convenience foods to suit you and your tastes — as well as your pocket book.