Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

Why You Should Always Label Your Freezer Foods (er, The Case of the Pancake Batter Rolls!)

I know this isn’t going to help my reputation for messing up recipes at all, but I still had to share… 🙂

We were having guests over for lunch on Sunday after church. Saturday was a rather busy day with a wedding we attended in another town and some other things that had to get taken care of.

So it was quite late before I finally got started making the Bread Machine Buttery Rolls. I dumped everything into the bread machine and got busy finishing cleaning up the house while the dough was mixing in the machine.

When the dough cycle was finished, I went to take it out and form it into rolls. I noticed immediately that it seemed a little stiffer than usual.

But I figured the dough just needed to rise and it would be fine. I formed the rolls, put them on a pan, and curled up with my book while I let them rise.

20 minutes later, I checked on the rolls and they hadn’t risen at all. Maybe they just need some more time, I thought.

So I went back to my book and read for another 20 minutes. By now it was well past midnight, and I should have been asleep.

20 minutes later and they still hadn’t risen at all. I finally gave up on them and decided to go ahead and bake them hoping that that would work some kind of miracle.

But baking them didn’t change anything, except cook the dough. They looked pathetic.

I decided to taste one and see if maybe they tasted well enough to be salvaged for our lunch the next day. What in the world? I thought to myself as I took a bite. They were really salty and funny tasting.

And then it dawned on me. Remember that big bag of Homemade Pancake Mix I made not too long ago? Well, apparently I had mistaken it for whole-wheat flour. No wonder they tasted gross and wouldn’t rise.

Needless to say, I gave up on roll-making and went to bed. In the morning, I somehow hurriedly pulled off making a quick batch of rolls and getting them baked before heading out the door for church. They weren’t the most beautiful batch of rolls I’d ever made, but at least they were better than the Pancake Batter Rolls. 😉

Lesson learned: Don’t put unlabeled bags of baking mixes in the freezer and assume you’ll remember what they are the next time you’re baking!

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!


  • We must be sisters. Once I pulled some un-labeled peeled bananas out of the fridge – a bag of 2 – so I could make banana bread. It was odd…they seemed really firm after they had thawed, and the color was a bit off. They turned out to be Italian Sausage links. oops!

    We won’t talk about the time I accidentally put taco seasoning in an apple pie instead of cinnamon. Actually…no one noticed!

    • Amber says:

      Bahaha! Oh my. 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you for the laugh — and for making me feel a little better about myself. 😉

      • Jaci says:

        I used a cup of cinnamon in chocolate crinkle cookies instead of cocoa. Luckily there was more cocoa in the recipe, but I grabbed the unmarked bag from the bulk store after my tin of cocoa ran out to finish it off. They were spicy. I made them for the cookie exchange the first year we were in our neighbourhood. Needless to say there hasn’t been a cookie exchange since 😮

    • My little brother and sister made breakfast in bed for my mom one day. They were young, so all they knew how to make was toast, but they did their best! When my mom took a bite of her “cinnamon sugar” toast, she got a lovely bite of paprika instead!!

      I tell this story because mine are waaaay more embarrassing!! (Like the time I insisted “I’m an adult, I know how to make a cake,” then forgot the water in the batter :-P)

    • Heather says:

      My mother put chili powder in a pumpkin pie once. We couldn’t taste the difference.

    • Christine says:

      Laura, I am happy to know that I’m not the only one! I did the EXACT same thing last week!!

    • Carol says:

      Oh, my. I put taco seasoning in baked apples in place of cinnamon–they noticed! It was pretty bad. I rinsed them and added cinnamon but only my husband ate it because he refuses to waste food! And of course my son had brought a girlfriend home to meet us that weekend!

  • Amy says:

    This is why we all love you Crystal! All of us have done something like this and it’s nice to know even the Money Saving Mom makes mistakes too.

  • Meredith says:

    This isn’t a freezer thing, but one time I was making potato salad. I cut up the potatoes and started boiling the water. Something grabbed my attention and I left the kitchen. My husband got home, turned off the water, dumped it, and moved my potatoes (we were in our tiny rental at the time and he needed space). About an hour later, I came back, totally brainwashed (don’t remember what I was doing), put the potatoes in a mixing bowl, added mayo, eggs, celery, seasonings, etc. Good thing I tasted for salt before I put on the dinner table, yup….raw potatoes!

  • Amy Johnson says:

    I would let them dry out and use them for breadcrumbs, where the salt wouldn’t be a liability. 🙂 And I’m glad you figured this out at midnight, and not at the dinner table with your guests tasting them!

  • Erin Reitsma says:

    Wow! So I’m not the only work at home mom who has kitchen bloopers!

  • Theresa says:

    Yep. I’m guilty of not tagging things in my freezer. I once made the most pungent, sinus-clearing banana smoothie on earth. I mistook frozen ginger for frozen bananas! GOOD MORNING!

  • Karen says:

    One day a few years ago I had my then 10-year-old daughter help me as I feverishly baked on a Saturday afternoon since we were hosting coffee hour at church the next day. I had her make the crumbs for the crumb cake. When she was done, she said it looked “different”. I looked, and I told her it looked an awful lot like frosting and nothing like crumbs. I told her to try again. She did, and it turned out the same. Turns out she used confectioners sugar and butter (which IS frosting!!!) instead of flour and butter 🙂

  • Casey says:

    We have a bad habit of not labeling before freezing, and it has bitten us more than once. The most recent time, my husband took what he thought was a bowl of chili to work for lunch and it turned out to be spaghetti sauce. Yum!

  • I’m glad I’m not the only one that does this! There has been more than one time I’ve found unidentifiable sauces and broths in my freezer 🙂

  • Jamie says:

    After DH thawed out a big ol jar of tomato sauce instead of strawberry jelly for my boys’ breakfasts, I started labeling everthing! lol.

  • Oh my. I could so see myself doing that. I pull out mysteries from the freezer way too often. We had to go gluten free for a while so I had brown rice, teff, amaranth, and sorghum flours in little baggies in my freezer. Now that we can have wheat again I am playing guessing games with them trying to finish them off.

  • Joy in Alabama says:

    One time my daughter made cornbread out of home-ground wheat flour instead of cornmeal. Uew! We still talk about it. lol

  • Nanette says:

    Oh that’s funny. I’m glad I’m not the only one that doesn’t take a good look 🙂 I once was making fried chicken. Pulled the flour out and did my thing. I thought it was frying funny but went about my business cooking. Served my family and my husband asked why the fried chicken was so sweet…..I don’t know? Oh my gosh I used powdered sugar instead of flour. I now label my containers

  • Cari Coleman says:

    This is not a labeling mistake but I was making chocolate chip cookies and I had combined all the batter and I tasted it. I was like ugh what is that horrible salty taste. Well I guess I put too much salt in it. Well I thought maybe if i added more of the remaining ingredients it would get better. It got worse. Ugh it was so disgusting.

  • Chelsea says:

    Lol that’s great! 🙂
    If it makes you feel any better, last week I pulled out some of your “homemade bread for beginners” dough to thaw, which I thought was pizza dough. I didn’t figure it out until I went to roll it- which wasn’t happening- then I tasted it and realized my mistake. At least pizza dough is really easy to whip up last minute 🙂

  • Yep, I’ve been there! I made some really weird flat cookies once and didn’t know what went wrong until much later when we realized that container of “extra flour” we had was pancake mix.

  • Teri says:

    I’m sure they tasted better than the rolls I made with mustard seed rather than poppy seed!

  • Shelly says:

    I am glad I am not the only one to mess up things in the kitchen. Once I put chili powder in the brown sugar instead of cinnamon. I did notice before I mixed it in and scooped out as much as I could they turned out fine. Once I forgot to add yeast to my bread machine and I set it to bake. It was a pretty bad loaf of bread, I chunked it up for the birds. Those are just the two that come to mind right now.

  • Heather T. says:

    I currently have some kind of dough in the freezer and for the life of me I can’t figure out what it is for, ugh.

  • Emily says:

    I recently pulled out some (unlabeled!) pre-cooked hamburger to add to my pasta sauce… didn’t realize till after I dumped it in, that it was actually homemade breakfast sausage… I thought it tasted awful, but my wonderful hubby ate it anyway- for a few days in row! 🙂

  • Sheila says:

    It’s a good idea to also put a date on it!

  • Carrie says:

    How funny! I just did this same thing yesterday! 🙂

    This summer we bought a bunch of different meat at the butcher and since it was a busy weekend my husband was kind enough to take care of it all for me. He bagged everything up and stuck it in the freezer — without labeling! Oops! I guess he was in a hurry, too.

    Yesterday I went to get out some chicken to cook up for chicken noodle soup, and since nothing was labeled, I grabbed the smallest bag that LOOKED like chicken. Turns out it was turkey lunch meat!

    After defrosting it in the microwave, for the time I thought it would take for frozen raw chicken – I ended up with no chicken and a bagged of very dry, burnt-edged turkey lunch meat.

    Oh, well. Lesson learned for next time! 🙂

  • Stephanie says:

    Oh my! I thought I was the only one to ever do something like that, and I used to bake for a living! Congratulations on getting the proper rolls made in the morning before church. I probably would have given up and hit the bakery after service instead.

  • Tamera Jones says:

    I thought I gave my hubby a container of clam chowder for lunch one day from the freezer. He told me that about halfway through his lunch he realized he was eating a bowl of mashed potatoes!! By all means, LABEL!!

  • Erica says:

    I had planned for my husband to make pancakes and eggs while I was working one night a few weeks ago. When I got home later he told me that the pancakes totally didn’t turn out. He asked why I had dumped the Bisquik into a container without keeping the directions with it. He had to look them up online and then it tasted awful when he made them. I asked him to show me the container and we soon discovered he had grabbed the whole wheat flour and treated it like Bisquik. Yuck 🙂

  • Kathy Gervasio says:

    I recently sent a container labeled chicken soup with my husband. as he heated it he could not understand why it smelled Fishy. Turns out the label was for a previous occupant of the container. it was plain raw clams. he was not amused.

  • Bonnie says:

    My brother and his family were visiting one summer and one day I had a pork roast in the crockpot. I asked my hubby to make cornbread (yep, we’re Southern all the way) while I took all the kids to the pool. He knows how to make cornbread…no problem. We got back, got everyone changed and ready for dinner. There was a pan of…something…on the stove. I asked my husband what it was. “Cornbread”, he says. Oook. I looked at it…poked it with a fork–it was hard as a brick. I asked him what he made it out of. He told me…duh…out of the cornmeal mix in the canister. Umm…which canister? He showed me the canister. It was cream of wheat. He had mixed cream of wheat, oil, and milk together and baked it. Yeah.

  • Jenele says:

    I learned labelling is important the hard way, too! When late in pregnancy with my first I got a huge “nesting instinct” push at 34 weeks. I did a ton of shopping to fill the freezer and pantry. I bought LOTS of meat in big family packs and efficiently wrapped it in foil and froze. No labels! My son arrived just a few days later at 35 weeks and I was so happy to be stocked up. I quickly realized that I had no idea what was in each lumpy foil package. For at least a month I would tell my husband we were having either chicken, pork or beef for dinner… it made menu planning an adventure! 🙂

    • Dineen says:

      This reminds me of our family Thanksgiving story of the unlabeled blueberry muffin mix that got used to make gravy (no tell-tale blueberries — it was just the mix with cans that had been used up for pancakes). My dad was so embarrassed that he didn’t label it and just pointed to a canister for my sister to grab as she started to make gravy. Luckily it was easy to make gravy again with unsweetened flour.

  • Linda H says:

    You are definitely not alone in this! I’ve done the same thing! My husband pulled a freezer bag out of the freezer with some unidentifiable item in it. There was no date, no label of any kind and it was badly freezer burned (so it’s been in there for quite some time)! Holding it up, he looked at me and asked, “What’s this?” I shrugged and I told him to donate it to the trash bin. I caught myself the other day about to toss something in the freezer without labeling it and remembered that incident and quickly grabbed my marker and labeled it.

  • Becky says:

    Mine wasn’t a labeling mistake but a reading a label mistake. I was making pancakes for breakfast for dinner and I was certain that I remember the recipe from scratch – I glanced at it and told myself yeah I’ve got this I pulled all the ingredients out, mixed them up, cooked them and proudly served them. My husband took one bite, looked up and said ‘What did you make?’ Feeling frustrated with him I got snippy – I just made him homemade pancakes from scratch from memory. So I took a HUGE bite. Wow, something was way off… The pancakes tasted like… pretzels. I went over the recipe again, I used baking soda instead of baking powder. Oops pretty sure we ate pizza that night.

  • kate says:

    I have a lovely tea set from my mother, and love to it out for the moms when i have playdates…We might be in yoga pants, unbrushed hair pulled into hasty ponytails, but something about drinking fancy tea just makes you feel good, no matter how crazy the kids are being! Well, at least until you realize on your first sip you’ve put kosher salt in the fancy sugar bowl, lol!!

  • PNW Jenn says:

    Spaghetti sauce made with frozen ice cubes of cilantro is not nearly as good as sauce made with frozen cubes of basil. (Gag)

  • Donna says:

    Did you know shredded coconut looks just like shredded parmesan? We couldn’t figure out why the cheese wasn’t melting on our spaghetti…..Couldn’t rescue those plates of food! Label, label, label!!!

  • Pamela Jones says:

    I forgot the Oats in OATMEAL cookies. The worst part was they were sitting right next to the mixer all measured out.

Money Saving Mom® Comment Policy

We love comments from readers, so chime in with your thoughts below! We do our best to keep this blog upbeat and encouraging, so please keep your comments cordial and kind. Read more information on our comment policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *