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.

Pudding Pops

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.)

Ice-Cream Bars

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!

Frozen Bananas

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.)

Stay cool!

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Myscha Theriault's picture

I put them in with milk and peanut butter and whirl them around in the blender.

Your way sounds awesome, too. If you want to cut calories, slice them into little rounds and freeze them into "chips". They taste just like ice cream, as you're probably already aware.

LOVE the pudding pop hack!

Linsey Knerl's picture

Now THAT is a good idea  :)  Thanks, Myscha!

Myscha Theriault's picture

They don't have to be super thin, but you don't want them uber thick either. Disks . . . sort of .  . . not quite a full quarter inch think. Perhaps a tad thinner than that. Good luck. And I'm telling my mother about the pudding pop thing. She uses those individual servings quite a bit at her job. She and my father are a therapeutic foster couple for a special needs agency. So they are always packing lunches for the clients. The pudding pop idea would be a great little after day program treat.

Guest's picture

Any suggestions on good popsicle molds? I bought some of the Target dollar spot ones, and they're pretty bad.

Guest's picture

When i was a kid we would just pour juice into an empty ice cube tray and eat the frozen juice cubes. You can blend them to make a good slush-like treat as well. Plus, you don't have to buy special molds, and you can probably get a few trays at your local dollar store on the cheap.

Guest's picture

We used the same molds you recommend for the frozen fruit bars and poured in a batch of instant pudding for our pudding pops. It's cheaper than using the pre-made stuff (which tastes kinda funny to me for some reason) and it lets you choose how much goes on each popsicle.

Guest's picture

Never heard of that, but it sounds incredible. I will be slicing in minutes....

Guest's picture

I second the idea of using ice cube trays (with sticks, even) for the mold, but I got my mold at Ikea for less than $2 and I love it. Be sure to run the mold under hot water before you try to remove the popsicle - otherwise everything tends to stay frozen together.

Guest's picture

When I was growing up, all of our popsicles and fudgesicles were made in special Tupperware keepers. Fruit popsicles were made from Jell-O and Kool-Aid, and fudgesicles made with pudding mix and milk. I recommend picking up the popsicle holders if you find them at a garage sale, etc., as they are easy to hold. They look like this:

Linsey Knerl's picture

We had those growing up too!  I don't know how us kids didn't lose the sticks... mine would have them in the trash in no time.  Thanks for bringing back those good memories, Michelle!

Guest's picture

Real pudding is very very simple to make in a microwave, and you don't have to buy packaged anything. You control what goes into it--none of those extra chemicals--just cornstarch, sugar, milk, flavoring (vanilla, chocolate, etc) and eggs if you want them as they're not really necessary. It won't scorch in a microwave and you can make as much as you want. Try it--it cooks 12 minutes in mine and I have a low-wattage one. You can mix up the dry ingredients ahead of time if you want, keep them in a jar, and have your own pudding mix.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Yum!  I love homemade pudding!  (Especially the pudding skin.)  I agree that if you want something natural, homemade is the way to go.  I would love to do this sometime!

Linsey Knerl's picture

This takes a bit more work, and I don't know how any of you feel about plastic bags, but it seems like a simple solution for when the ice cream maker is broken.  (And the kids can help!) 

Guest's picture

I love the suggestions, both in the article and the comments! I'm going to try the pudding pops and yogurt pops too :)

My mom used to freeze juice boxes and we'd eat them like popsicles. We'd also take them along on picnics and use them like icepacks. The juice would thaw a bit, but it was cool and slushy and could be eaten with a spoon for dessert.

(Although, I only recommend this idea if tetra packs can be recycled in your area.)

Guest's picture

Our teenage son often makes smoothies,in the morning to "fill in the gaps" at breakfast. I encourage him to pour the extra (because there is always extra) into the popsicle molds we used when he was little...and he does it! I think it brings back fond memories. They don't always look great, but they get eaten!! And he knows exactly what is in them.

Guest's picture

Your banana idea sounds amazing!!!!

I just throw bananas straight in the freezer and then take them out , peel them and eat them as they are.

Guest's picture

I have so much fruit on hand at the moment and I was searching for a magazine recipe I'd seen for fruit ices. But they involved cooking. I was glad to see such a simple suggestion. I have some animal shaped molds from a rummage sale but i could find only the sticks. so i poured the pureed watermelon and blueberries into baby food cubes and right now my daughter is eating one as slush. she says it's good.

Guest's picture

when i was a kid, my mom would freeze capri sun's. then she would take the out and cut the top off and we'd have a "push pop". they were the best!!

Guest's picture

Thanks Ginny! I love homemade pudding but I never have enough time to sit and watch it over the stove. Also, no matter how low I keep my stove's heat my puddings always seem to socrch a bit. (I have really cheap cookware). I will have to try your microwave suggestion!

Guest's picture

Probably not great for kids, but you can save about $3.50 of the $4.00 a Frappuccino costs at the Coffee House by making it at home if you have a cheap espresso maker ($25-$50 at chain stores).

1/2 cup espresso
1 cup ice (I like a little more than a cup, like a cup plus 3 extra cubes)
1/2 cup milk (skim is fine)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup

Blend all in a blender at the fastest speed for about 40 seconds. Serve immediately. Makes about 20 oz. If you like them sweeter, you can use 1/3 c milk and add a bit more sugar. I top mine with about a tablespoon of cool whip and it tastes exactly like the mocha frappuccino I get at Starbucks.

Guest's picture

Like your bannanas, but no work required! Simply rinse grapes, dry and pop the whole bunch in the freezer. They're like little drops of delicious sweetness when they're frozen. Also, no mess and no special equipment required. I was even able to do this with my TINY freezer when in college. They also make neat ice cubes to put into watter for a little bit of added flavor.


Guest's picture

You can actually do the frozen banana thing with any fruit. Pineapple and papaya slices are particularly good, or thread three or four strawberries, grapes, chunks of kiwi, etc. on a wooden skewer, dip in chocolate and freeze.

Another thing my son just loves is fruit pops. Just chop up whatever fruit you have and dump it in a bowl, oranges, bananas, apples, grapes, etc. Make all the pieces fairly small (non-choking size!) and then add a little orange juice if needed. You could also mix this with plain yogurt. Scoop into paper cups, add a stick and freeze. Super yummy and 100% healthy.

Make cream cheese strawberry pops by putting a spoonful of strawberry jam in the bottom of each mold, then blending 1 part cream cheese with 1 part plain yogurt . . . add some honey or sugar if you think it needs sweetening. Pour this into the molds and presto! you have a really, really yummy treat.

Guest's picture

Here in So-Cal local strawberries will go on sale for $1 a carton in the right time of the season... I love strawberries so last time I bought four containers, but couldn't eat them quite quick enough so I rinsed them and froze them...

Best Popsicles I have EVER had! Leaving the green leafy caps on makes them easy to hold, theyre naturally really sweet, and perfect to eat on a hot day instead of icecream!!

Think i'll dip the tips in chocolate next time.

Guest's picture

More popsicle recipes from Recipe Zaar:

Guest's picture

plain yogurt and frozen berries in the blender. it's already halfway frozen by the time you blend it and you can serve it like ice cream or pour it into popsicle molds to freeze the rest of the way.
i also use heavy cream and frozen strawberries to make a sugar free ice cream [i'm diabetic]

if you have a bunch of strawberries on hand, wash them, dry them [drying is important] pull the crowns back away from the berries and stick a toothpick in at the crown end. freeze them individually on cookie sheets and you have individual whole strawberry pops. that was my grandmother's summer thing for my mom and uncle.

Guest's picture

Add frozen strawberries to the list. I love those things!!!