It's time to think outside the freezer box.
One of the most underutilized items in your kitchen: the humble ice cube tray. You can use it to freeze much more than H20—from coffee to pesto to wine. Here, eight creative ideas that will help you prevent food waste while saving time and money.
Wine ice cubes
We know, we know. What's "leftover wine"? But in the unlikely event that you have a half-empty bottle sitting on your kitchen counter, freeze the remaining vino into wine ice cubes. Pop one out next time you're making a recipe that calls for cooking wine or need to de-glaze a pan without having to open a fresh bottle. Another idea: Throw a couple cubes into a pitcher of sangria to chill the drink without watering it down.
Coffee ice cubes
There’s nothing worse than taking a sip of iced coffee only to realize the ice has melted and turned it into a watered-down cup of joe. To avoid this problem, pour leftover coffee from your morning brew into an ice cube tray and substitute the frozen coffee cubes for regular ice cubes in tomorrow's glass. Bonus: This also works for iced tea!
Herb-infused ice cubes
Herbs are a great way to give a dish flavor without adding lots of calories, but a fresh bundle can spoil quickly in the fridge. By finely chopping leftover sprigs (think parsley, basil, rosemary, and cilantro) and freezing them with a little olive oil, you'll always have a selection of flavorful herbs at your fingertips to add to a soup or stew, or sautéed veggies.
Chocolate-strawberry ice cubes
"[Ice cube trays] are perfect for making portion-controlled treats," says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor. One of her go-tos? Chocolate-dipped frozen fruit. To make, melt dark chocolate squares and stir in a little extra virgin coconut oil, fresh grated ginger, and chopped mint leaves. Pour the mixture into a tray and place a whole strawberry in each cube; freeze for a bite-sized sweet.
Broth ice cubes
Have leftover vegetable or chicken broth you don't want to waste? Sass suggests freezing it so you can quickly throw a cube into the pan or pot next time you want to give a dish an instant flavor boost. "This is a great kitchen time saver," she says.
Pesto ice cubes
For a taste of summer during the cold winter months, Lipton suggests freezing cubes of homemade pesto with a little olive oil drizzled on top. You can easily throw a pesto ice cube in the pan along with chicken, fish, or veggies to give any dish a punch of flavor.
Flavor-infused ice cubes
We all know how important it is to stay hydrated, but sometimes plain water doesn't cut it. Instead of reaching for a sugar-laden drink like soda to quench your thirst, Nashville-based nutritionist McKel Hill, RD, suggests "dressing up your plain water" with fruit-infused ice cubes. Simply freeze small pieces of fruit (like strawberries or blueberries) in regular ice cubes. Or if you prefer the taste of lemon water, make lemon juice ice cubes. When you drop one in your glass, you'll get a subtle fruity flavor in every sip.
RELATED: 15 Foods That Help You Stay Hydrated
Smoothie ice cubes
If you have a bag of spinach or kale in your fridge that’s starting to wilt, throw it in the blender instead of the trash. Puree the leaves until they're smooth and freeze into cubes. Next time you're making a smoothie, you can pop one of these frozen green cubes into the blender again for an extra nutrient kick in your drink.