Chill Out With These 6 Simple DIY Freezer Treats
It's getting to be unbearably hot in many areas of the country, and frozen treats are a healthy way to cool off. With ice cream bars running $5 a small box locally, I went on a search to find inexpensive, alternative recipes to feed our family. What I found were six surprisingly easy ways to stock my freezer on the cheap! (See also: 5 Cheap Summer Foods to Jazz Up Your Menus)
Frozen Fruit Bars
These are my favorite, and unfortunately, they are the most costly of all my freezer-case passions. Choosing bars that are organically-grown or with no sugar will cost you more, so why not make them yourself? Here is a super recipe from SparkPeople to get you started (you can omit the sugar, add 100% fruit juice to help in the blending process, or substitute organic fruit.) Sticking to one or two kinds of fruit keep them simple and yummy!
- Blend 2 cups cut-up summer fruit (strawberries, peaches, watermelon, etc.) in a blender until smooth.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons water (or juice), if necessary. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Cover and blend until well mixed.
- Pour into molds and freeze until solid.
Bill Cosby earned my respect, not for his TV sitcom (which was good), but for his delicious endorsement of what I consider the most amazing treats on the planet — the Jello Pudding Pop. If you can't find the new version (made by Popsicle) in a store near you, here's the next, best homemade thing:
Grab a pack of those individual puddings that you can stick in a kid's lunchbox. Carefully slice an opening in the foil lid of the pudding, and insert a wooden popsicle stick (sold at grocers and craft stores.) Freeze and eat! For under a buck for a pack of 4, that's a cheap knock-off! (And, yes, I've heard that the original pudding pops never really had pudding in them…my kids won't know the difference.)
Frozen Yogurt Bars
These really are as simple as they sound. Simply scoop your favorite yogurt into your mold, and allow to freeze. I prefer the kind that is all-natural and without artificial sweeteners (they freeze better and don't taste bitter). A good organic like Yo Baby could be served in the original single-serve container, much like the pudding pops idea (just pop a stick in and freeze.)
This is a little repetitive, but allowing a container of your favorite ice cream to soften will make it easy to scoop into a frozen mold. After it freezes, you can dip it into melted chocolate or roll into nuts to refreeze before eating. It may not be a true money-saver, but for those of us with portion-control issues (especially concerning ice-cream), this could be a life-saver.
Freezing your kid's favorite juice into a mold is the easiest way yet to cool off with a treat. I love to sneak in a veggie serving or two by using a juice that contains carrots (we like Juicy Juice's Harvest Surprise Juice). Try to avoid juices that contain more sugar than juice, and it'll count as a fruit serving, too!
These are killer! Dip a whole, peeled banana (or half them for smaller kids) into a melted chocolate dip. Roll in crushed or chopped nuts and insert a stick. Place on waxed paper. Freeze and eat! (These are best if eaten soon after frozen, but if you won't be using them up right away, take the already frozen bananas and place them in a freezer bag. They're good for up to a week.)
I'm sure there are other ways to make frozen treats that involve more work or more expensive ingredients, but I like to keep things cheap and simple. We use small paper cups for our molds, but if you don't want any additional waste, you can use reusable plastic molds (we tried it, but the sticks never made it back from the play yard.)