Whether you find cooking therapeutic or a chore, we all have those moments in the kitchen when there simply isn’t enough time to do everything. The water is boiling, the sauce needs stirring and the chicken is starting to burn, all while the timer chirps away (oh yeah, we’ve all been there).

Instead of reaching for the takeout drawer, simply dig out your ice cube trays, because we have a little trick that will save you time (and sanity) during meal prep. We’re not talking about cutting corners-no instant mixes, microwave dinners or meals in a box. Instead, by simply freezing these nine items beforehand, you can still use your favorite fresh, all-natural ingredients, only with a little extra time to enjoy a glass of merlot.

Pasta Sauce

Spa Week Frozen pasta sauce

Photo via the Comfort Cooking

For anyone who’s ever reached for a jar of moldy sauce while the spaghetti noodles are already boiling, this one is for you. Freezing sauce is ideal for pasta dishes, pizza and even dipping sauces. And if you’re one of those brave souls who opts to make your sauce from scratch, this is a great trick when you need to whip up dinner in a pinch.

Roasted Garlic

Spa Week freezer hacks

Photo via Live Well For Less

Whole roasted garlic cloves give soups, sauces, potatoes and a surfeit of other dishes a burst of savory flavor, but you better plan ahead, because you’ll need at least an hour to roast. Luckily, the cloves only take a few minutes to thaw, and can be stored for weeks in the freezer.

Lemon Juice

Spa week freezer hacks

Photo via Food Network

Many recipes call for a splash of freshly squeezed lemon, but as with any perishable fruit, lemons can go from fresh to mush in a flash. It can be tough to keep a constant stash of lemon on hand unless it’s in the freezer. Bonus, use your lemon cubes in lieu of ice cubes in your water, tea, and cocktails!

Pesto

spa week freezer hack

Image via DIY Network

Whipping up a batch of pesto sauce can be quite a time-consuming task, but it freezes beautifully. You’ll only need one or two cubes for a pesto pasta sauce, panini or stuffed chicken, without cleaning the food processor every time.

Chopped Onions

Spa week freezer hacks

Photo via Food Network

We all know chopping onions is a rather daunting duty, especially when you have a million other things going on in the kitchen. Hold the tears, and keep a portion of frozen chopped onion in Ziplock bags for easy use. The freezing technique works beautifully for caramelized onions, too.

Herbs

spa week freezer hack

Photo via The Glamorous Housewife

There’s simply nothing like fresh basil on homemade bruschetta or rosemary sprigs atop baked brie, but the frigid winter months can be harsh on fresh herbs. Get that garden fresh taste well into the year’s colder months by freezing your herbs in olive oil.

Stock & Broth

spa week freezer hacks

Photo via American Heritage Cooking

Don’t throw out your excess broth or stock; save it for later use in soups, stews or pot pies. One cube equates to about an ⅛ of a cup, so you can pop one out for a little texture, or five to six for a full bowl of soup.

Pureed Greens

spa week freezer hack

Photo via Thinkstock

Greens spoil relatively quickly, and while we can’t do very much about preserving salad greens, we can puree spinach, kale or any other vitamin-packed favorite for future use in a smoothie, sauce or another dish.

Pureed Fruit

spa week freezer hacks

Photo via Fotosearch

If your fruit is about to turn, don’t reach for the trash can! Frozen fruit puree can be used later for a homemade jam, smoothie or pie. You can even let it thaw, then serve over ice cream for a quick shot of antioxidants in your dessert.

Written by Amanda McCoy

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