22 great hacks for your ice cube tray
If you’re only using your ice-cube trays to make ice, you’re missing out on all sorts of golden opportunities! Try some of these …
1. Homemade stock ‘cubes’
Ever thought it might be a nice idea to make a lovely stock out of your roast dinner bones or veggies? Then thought, “But I’m not going to use it anytime soon, so what’s the point?” Ah ha! All you have to do is place your newly-made broth or stock into some ice-cube trays, freeze, then voila! Just chuck a couple of cubes into your next soup recipe!
2. Leftover gravy and dripping
While you’re being all thrifty and resourceful with your roast dinner leftovers, chuck all your excess meat dripping and gravy into the ice-cube tray, too. Simply freeze those leftovers in an ice-cube tray and toss them in with your next batch of soup or stew. (Just be sure to label it so nobody thinks it’s chocolate milk.)
3. Baby food purees
Starting your baby on solids? Trust us, when it comes to pureeing food you want to be making a large enough batch to use many times over. Unless you’re that non-existent kind of mum with a bub with lots of spare time on her hands! Ice-cube trays are the perfect size for puree storage – just freeze ‘em, pop ‘em out, then put them in a dated Ziploc bag. Once your baby moves on to more solid foods, vegetable purees are still handy to have on hand to sneak into your toddler’s dinners without them noticing.
- See here for Baby’s first vegetable purees recipe.
4. Paint palette
Let your little budding Picassos loose in the backyard with a smock and an easel – and the paint perfectly proportioned in an ice-cube tray. The perfect size to avoid paint wastage, it also stops the colours running together, minimises spills and allows your kids to experiment with colour blending.
5. Herbs in water or oil
Sick of spending $3 on a bunch of herbs and only using two sprigs before finding the rest in a shrivelled heap at the bottom of the veggie crisper two weeks later? A fantastic way to preserve herbs is to freeze them in olive oil, which prevents freezer burn. Other herbs like mint are delicious frozen in water – just stick your minty ice cube into your next drink for a refreshing lift!
6. Homemade salad dressing and condiments
We all know that homemade salad dressing tastes better. But we also know that unscrewing a jar is a lot easier than whipping up a salad dressing each time (and then throwing most of it away). Solution? Make a big batch of dressing or other condiments and freeze them in ice-cube trays, then pull out a couple of cubes whenever needed.
- See here for a great Lemon vinaigrette recipe.
Leftover wine. It does happen, apparently. Before yours goes off, freeze the remains in an ice-cube tray where it can be on hand for use in cooking or to add punch to your next, um, punch.
8. Pizza sauce
If you’re a fan of homemade pizzas, they can only be improved upon with a homemade pizza sauce – but it seems like a lot of effort for the amount you end up using. Unless, that is, you freeze it in perfectly proportioned ice cube trays so you can take one out whenever you need it! Clever clogs.
- See here for a brilliant Pizza tomato sauce recipe.
9. Jewellery box
Sick of doing the jewellery box rummage for that matching earring or favourite super-fine chain? Now every pair of earrings, ring and bracelet can have its very own home in a sectioned off ice-cube tray. Just pop it into your dresser drawer and scratch your head as to why you never thought of it earlier.
10. Coffee or chai
Don’t tip that leftover coffee down the sink! Pour it into ice-cube trays and freeze for the best iced coffee or chai you can imagine.
11. Seed starter
Calling all green thumbs! Did you know you had the perfect seed starter kit stashed away in that cupboard where all your plastic stuff is? An ice-cube tray couldn’t be more brilliantly designed to help you get some seeds a-growin’.
12. Leftover egg whites
Ever looked at a recipe that requires only egg yolks and thought, “Not another egg white omelette!” Or made some meringues and thought, “Now I’m going to have to make Bearnaise sauce again, sheesh!” Well, bet you didn’t know you can actually freeze those leftover eggy bits for whenever you need them.
13. Mini popsicles
It’s the guilt-free icy treat – how could anything so small be naughty? From leftover smoothies to yoghurt, fruit juice or cordial, anything can be frozen and – with the addition of a strategically placed mini popstick – be transformed into a popsicle!
- See here for a Yoghurt popsicles recipe.
There’s a plethora of desserts that require freezing, so instead of opting for a big serving size, separate them into little bite-sized treasures with an ice-cube tray. It’s portion control at its finest! Here’s a peanut butter cups recipe to get you started …
- See here for the Peanut Butter cups recipe.
15. Pimped-up punch bowl
Sure you could just chuck common old ice cubes into your next party punch. Or you could really impress with some super-stylin’ice cubes. Simply insert each ice cube with anything from a piece of fruit, a slice of lemon, orange or even some edible flowers.
16. Pesto perfection
Pesto is another one of those recipes that tastes so much better when it’s homemade but you always end up with far too much. So make an ice cube batch and remove when needed for a variety of meal bases, an easy pizza sauce or a simple pasta sauce all on its own.
- See here for a fantastic Pesto recipe.
17. Chocolate-dipped strawberries
Make the ultimate romantic indulgence by creating chocolate-dipped strawberries in an ice-cube tray. The object of your affections need never know how little effort you really went to – simply melt some choc chips and stir until smooth, pour into ice-cube trays then pop in a strawberry and chill until set.
18. Sneaky sushi
Love the idea of making your own sushi except for the fiddliness of trying to roll your own? Try stuffing it into an ice-cube tray! Sure, some sushi purists might faint at the thought, but we won’t tell them, will we?
- See here for the Ice-Cube tray sushi recipe.
19. Sensational smoothies
You can freeze both Greek yoghurt and bananas in ice-cube trays, then simply throw them into your next smoothie when required for a super creamy and healthy taste sensation.
Buttermilk is another one of those ingredients we only ever use occasionally, which invariably means chucking out half a container every time. Never again … buttermilk freezes beautifully for up to three months, so just measure out how many tablespoons of buttermilk there are in each ice cube, then just thaw when required!
21. Cookie dough
If you like baking cookies but find that cookie binges are all too common, next time only cook half your dough, then freeze the rest in ice-cube trays. When you next fancy a cookie, you can just take out one and bake it – portion control like no other.
- See here for a Microwave chocolate chip cookies recipe.
22. Frozen greens
You’re on a health kick, you want to add some healthy greens to your morning smoothie but hate that ‘bitty’ sensation. Try cooking your greens first, then pureeing them in your food processor before freezing in ice-cube trays. Then just simply bung in a couple of green ice cubes at smoothie time for barely detectable health-giving goodness.