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12 Brilliant Uses For Ice Cube Trays

Or: how to save money, leftovers, and fridge space.

Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

Ice cube trays = the MVP of the freezer.

Use them to preserve leftovers that you might otherwise throw away — like extra tomato paste, broth, or buttermilk — in perfect grab-and-go quantities: one standard-size cube equals about two tablespoons; and two cubes are 1/4 cup. You can also extend the life of soon-to-wilt veggies and herbs, or make bite-sized desserts.

Once whatever you're freezing has set, bendable silicone ice cube trays make removal super easy. If you're short on fridge space, opt for a lidded tray that lets you freeze and store things vertically. Once frozen, just pop the cubes into a dated ziplock bag for longer-term storage.

Here are 12 ideas for how to use them.

1. Freeze leftover herbs in olive oil for ready-to-use recipe starters.

This works best with firmer herbs like rosemary or sage. (You could also puree everything together — herbs + oil + salt & pepper — and freeze pesto.) Find step-by-step instructions at The Kitchn.

2. For a quick way to finish off sauces and stews, freeze extra chicken, beef, or vegetable stock into grab-and-go cubes.

Instead of throwing away half-used boxes of stock, portion them out to use in recipes that call for a bit of liquid to add flavor at the end. More here.

3. Puree and freeze slightly overripe avocados, then pop them into smoothies for a boost of healthy fats.

This is also a great way to use up any avocados that you know you won't be able to eat before they cross over to ~the dark side~. Instructions here.

4. Or freeze soon-to-expire Greek yogurt and toss it into smoothies for extra protein.

You could also make little snack bites. The ones above mix in pomegranate seeds and bit of sugar. Recipe here.

5. Another smoothie booster? Your favorite frozen greens — like spinach or kale.

And it's totally fine if they're a little wilted too — you won't be able to tell once they get pureed. More info on freezing greens here.

6. Swap regular ice cubes for cold-brew coffee cubes and amp up your favorite DIY drinks.

Extra caffeine FTW. This version makes almond milk lattes with them.

7. Finally reach the bottom of the tomato paste can by scooping and storing the leftovers.

When was the last time you used an entire can in one recipe? These instructions have you freeze them in dollops, but ice cube trays work too.

Also, pro tip from a reader: "Open both ends with a can opener. Do the top, take it off, flip it over and open the bottom. Then push the paste out from the bottom — that way, nothing goes to waste."

8. Freeze leftover pumpkin puree then stir it into oatmeal or homemade lattes for a bit of ~festive~ sweetness.

Pumpkin puree is also loaded with vitamin A and fiber — so these are great to sneak into kids' meals. (More ideas on how to use frozen pumpkin here.)

9. Freeze the rest of that carton of buttermilk for year-round baking.

This version uses muffin tins but ice cube trays work too — with two cubes equal to about 1/4 cup. Instructions here.

10. Freeze apples with a bit of yogurt + water for easy DIY dog treats.

Perfect for the warmer months. More here.

11. Or puree a batch of your favorite fruits and veggies for easy bite-sized (and baby-sized!) portions:

These can stay good for several months in the freezer. Find more info on safely pureeing and storing baby food here.

12. And of course, dessert: Freeze melted chocolate chips and bottom-of-the-jar peanut butter for grab-and-go sweet treats.

Cravings? Solved. Find the instructions here.