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12 Brilliant Uses For Ice Cube Trays

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.