Move over ice, there’s a new cube in town! Busy moms know that the secret to success in the kitchen is making the most of the time, money and supplies you have – and who doesn’t have a few ice cubes trays in the freezer? With a little ingenuity, these simple kitchen tools can do a whole lot more than just cool down your favorite cola.

  1. Store your leftovers. You may already do this in big batches, but it’s also a great way to use up the vegetable odds and ends in the kitchen so they don’t go to waste. Save leftover veggies a few nights in a row, then combine them all to make one multi-veggie puree (add an apple if needed to bulk up the batch or round out flavor.) Freeze into cubes, then pop and thaw as needed.
  2. Pour a “backwards” glass of juice. Freeze brightly colored cubes of 100% fruit juice or pureed fruit (watermelon works especially well) and use them to add pizzazz to a glass of water with a fraction of the sugar of most kids’ drinks.
  3. Dry your herbs. Drying herbs takes time many of us just don’t have. If you have an abundance of fresh herbs during the growing season (or if you just find a great price at the supermarket) chop them finely and freeze into cubes with a little bit of water. Then, you can toss them into soups, stews, or other recipes and have fresh flavor all year long.  (Added tip: try freezing some mint cubes for your iced tea.)
  4. Save your broth. How many times have you opened a whole container of broth only to use a cup or less? Instead of storing the rest in the refrigerator (and possibly forgetting about it), freeze it into cubes and use to flavor rice, steam veggies, or make small servings of soup later. Try with drippings, too, for an easy start to homemade gravy.
  5. Get your caffeine on. Nothing ruins a great cup of iced coffee like too much watery ice. By the time you get halfway through your drink, it doesn’t even taste like coffee anymore. Remedy the situation with cubes made of your favorite full-strength brew. Your java will be good the very last drop.

When choosing ice cube trays, be sure to look for stainless steel, non-toxic silicone or plastic options that specify “BPA-free”, and follow manufacturer’s washing instructions.  And if you’re worried about filling your freezer with trays, simply pop out the cubes and store in freezer bags. Just make sure you label each bag with the contents and date.

Happy freezing!