Keeping a well-stocked freezer can prove invaluable when you’re looking to save time in the kitchen — without sacrificing deliciousness. Whether you’re looking to satisfy a personal craving or you’ve got last-minute guests to feed, having several essentials frozen and at the ready is the first step to a happy and stress-free kitchen. In addition to saving time and energy in food preparation, keeping foods frozen will also prevent any unnecessary spoilage. Storing these seven essential foods in your freezer will save you time and money.
1. Frozen fruit
Keeping frozen fruits around will have you on the fast track to a tasty snack. Tossing a couple frozen berries — or any vegetable of your choosing — into a dish can add an exciting element of flavor. If you’re looking for a simple way to satisfy your sweet tooth, purée some frozen fruit in a blender or food processor along with orange juice or milk to create a sorbet or sherbet. Alternatively, you can make a smoothie by putting frozen fruit together with yogurt in the blender. Check out the Food Network blog for more ideas on how to incorporate frozen food into your culinary repertoire.
2. Ground beef
Ground beef can be stored in the freezer raw or cooked, writes Southern Living. You can shape the raw meat into patties, loaves, or meatballs and stored uncooked if you so choose — or, you can cook the meat up with onions and garlic, then freeze this prepared meat to use as a base for future dishes. When it comes time to prepare the meal, simply reheat the cooked beef and create anything from sloppy Joes to beef tacos to goulash. If you’re looking for a leaner alternative, try using ground turkey in place of beef.
3. Chicken breasts
Wrapped properly, chicken breasts can last for about nine months in your freezer, according to What’s Cooking America, a resource providing a comprehensive set of food safety guidelines. Chicken breasts require minimal planning and effort to thaw out and use in a meal. Given that chicken is so versatile, you can use this lean meat for any variety of meal options — thaw it out for a twist on chicken pot pie, savory chicken Vesuvio, or a dish of chicken and sausage manicotti.
4. Frozen vegetables
Frozen vegetables are a convenient shortcut to delicious and healthful snacking. Best of all, they don’t require any peeling or chopping — simply cook them up along with your other ingredients and enjoy! Try preparing frozen peppers or spinach in a skillet with olive oil, then scrambling some eggs for a quick, protein-packed meal. According to EatingWell, vegetables are generally frozen at their peak stage of ripeness, which means they’re just as nutrient-filled as they are tasty. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to work those veggies into your next meal, check out EatingWell’s list of suggestions!
5. Bread or tortillas
According to Real Simple, bread (and bread products) will last in the freezer for about three months if sealed correctly. Given how crucial bread ingredients are to a wide variety of meals, it’s always helpful to have some extra bread or tortilla in store — just in case you find yourself running low and don’t have time to run out to the market. Martha Stewart recommends letting your bread thaw out for about 3 to 4 minutes in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven to restore its crisp texture.
6. Homemade stock or broth
Homemade stock is a wonderful staple to have tucked away in the freezer — you never know when the chance will pop up to use it! The Kitchn recommends saving any extra homemade stock to use for later by pouring it into an ice cube tray. This way, the stock will keep for several months, and will be readily accessible when you come across a recipe calling for it. Oftentimes, these recipes require just a small amount of stock — storing your homemade broth in an ice cube tray will allow you to pop it onto the stove with your other ingredients in a snap.
7. Simple snacks and appetizers
Having quick, convenient snacks and appetizers on hand can be useful to satisfy your own cravings and can also be handy if friends happen to stop by for coffee or cocktails. Keep a small stock of miniature quiches, dumplings, jalapeño poppers, or spanakopita in the freezer for occasions such as these. That way, you won’t be stuck running around the kitchen throwing dishes together from scratch. Simply pop the snacks in the oven and wait a few minutes while enjoying your company. Real Simple recommends 10 of the best store-bought snacks on their website.