By Chef Alli on April 10, 2019
20 Foods to Keep In Your Freezer at All Times....and Why
Stockpiling our freezer helps us save money, make dinner faster, and avoid extra trips to the grocer. Below are 20 ways that I’ve successfully utilized my freezer space to feed my family and stay organized.
1. Pork Sausage
My family loves pork sausage and I’ve got tons of easy-meal recipes that call for sausage, so I keep several rolls on hand. You can always quickly make biscuits and gravy, quiche, pasta fagioli, and cheese dip...to name a few.
2. Bulk Nuts and Coconut
Buying nuts and coconut in bulk saves $$. Toast these before freezing and you’ve got an even bigger win since toasting nuts and coconut magnifies their flavors allowing you to use less in your recipes, saving cash AND calories.
3. Over-Ripened Bananas
Those black bananas on the cupboard can be peeled and thrown into a freezer bag for making super moist banana muffins and banana bread when you get the urge. Keep frozen banana chunks on hand for making smoothies in the blender - the banana chunks work way better than ice and won’t dilute your smoothie.
4. Specialty Deli Meats and Sausages
Prosciutto, salami, kielbasa, cocktail sausages, stadium brats, and pepperoni – I like having precooked meats in my freezer since they thaw quickly and all I have to do before adding them to any dish is brown them in a bit of oil. Score!
5. Frozen Veggies
Because frozen veggies are par-boiled, they need very minimal cooking to finish when adding them to soups, pasta, and speedy skillet meals. I usually have the following on hand at all times in my freezer: riced cauliflower, cut green beans, broccoli, corn, edamame, baby peas, and cauliflower.
6. Cookie Dough and Meatballs
Yea, I know those sound odd together, but here’s the down-low: to be successful at freezing both of these items, you’ve got to freeze them individually. Once each mound of cookie dough and each meatball is frozen, THEN they can go right into a freezer bag and into the freezer, allowing you to pull out 1 or 100 as needed. So slick! (And so dangerous when you’re talking cookie dough.)
7. On Sale Stock-Up items
When I find butter on sale at $1.99 (usually around the holidays) you can bet I’m going to stock up! Here is a list of items I try to stockpile in my freezer when I spot a good deal: butter, chocolate chips, hummus, flour, bacon, specialty cheeses, hot dogs, lunch meat, shredded cheeses, pizza, pork tenderloin, tri-tip roast, salmon, chicken breasts, chicken tenders, and my personal favorite - boneless, skinless chicken thighs! (*Side Note: you don’t see much on my list in the way of beef because we butcher our own.)
8. Cooked-Ahead Pre-Measured Meats
Keeping cooked meats such as shredded rotisserie chicken, cooked ground beef, cooked sausage, cooked Italian sausage, chopped ham, chopped bacon is a no-brainer. I find that a lot of my recipes call for 2 cups of cooked ground or chopped meats so that’s how I package mine - 2 cups in each freezer bag.
9. Ingredients Specific to Your Recipe Repertoire
We all have recipe favorites that we know by heart for our family or to give when someone needs a lift. Here are my go-to freezer items and what I often make with them: a loaf of raisin bread for bread pudding, cooked sausage for spaghetti pie, premeasured lard for homemade pie crusts, egg noodles for chicken noodle soup, and frozen rolls for skillet rosemary rolls.
10. Emergency Helpers
You never know when you’re gonna get the call that someone is dropping by. It’s nice to have ingredients on hand in the freezer that can specifically help you create something in a flash: puff pastry, mini phyllo cups, pizza crusts. I can make apple tarts super fast with puff pastry, sweet desserts or savory appetizers with phyllo cups, and breadsticks, pizza or dessert pizza with the pizza crusts.
11. Leftovers for Later
I like to have a small tub right inside my freezer door where I hoard small ingredients and leftovers that are used repeatedly and often: tomato paste, broth cubes, pesto cubes, wine cubes, a bag of frozen fresh spinach.
12. Good Par-Baked Bread
If you’ve got some good par-baked bread loaves that you can throw in the oven on the fly, all you need is a bit of salted butter and a glass of wine and you’ve got dinner!
13. Frozen Fruits
Keeping frozen fruits in the freezer lets you make some super fast, down and dirty desserts: crumbles, crisps, and crostatas…..oh, and smoothies!
14. The Bone Box
Here’s where you throw all the bones and carcasses throughout the week so you’ve got them on hand when you want to make a pot of bone broth. And, yes, you can store and use all kinds of bones together in one bone box - beef, pork, chicken, etc.
15. Homemade Broth Items
Keep all your leftover scrap vegetables, herbs, rinds from hard cheeses in the freezer for when you want to make a stock pot of homemade broth. I have a big freezer bag that’s labeled BROTH that I add items to throughout the week.
16. Cooked Grains
Because grains can take a long time to cook (unless you’ve got a pressure cooker J) it’s a great idea to cook them ahead of time, let them cool, then portion them into 1-2 cup portions and freeze them in freezer bags. Not only do they made a nice side dish or an addition to a soup, they can also help STRETCH a recipe (say cooked rice added to a Mexican meat filling) when you’ve got lots of mouths to feed.
17. Leftover Coffee Grounds
Throughout the winter, I freeze all my leftover coffee grounds (yes, I’m weird like that). Then, when spring finally arrives, I thaw my coffee grounds and mix them in with my potting soil. This gives added nourishment and beautiful growth to my summer flowers.
If you’re gonna make a lasagna, why not double down on the recipe and just make two while you’re at it....one for now and one for later. Big payoff here. (Line your casserole dishes with heavy-duty foil before adding your ingredients. Then, when the casseroles are frozen solid, you can just lift it out of the dish and wrap it in the foil to store it in the freezer, freeing up your casserole dish to use again soon….instead of it wasting away in the freezer.)
Soups, stews, and chowders that are packaged individually in freezer bags for a quick morning grab-and-go when you need lunch at the office later in the day are a brilliant and money saving idea. (Freeze these flat so you can pile them up in a neat stack in the freezer.)
20. The Secret Stash
Okay. So there are certain things I NEVER want to run out of, so I keep at least one of each item in the secret stash area of my freezer....way at the back: butter, chocolate chips, bacon, Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies, Hudson Cream flour, lard for pie crusts, Twinkies, and phyllo cups.
The Please-Do-Not-Freeze-Me EVER List
Some things just CAN’T be frozen under any circumstances, lest they become nearly unrecognizable, not to mention a giant “textural nightmare” that no one wants to experience! This list includes:
Soft cheeses and cultured dairy, such as cream cheese, goat cheese, ricotta, or sour cream.
Uncooked batters - such as any cake, pancake, or waffle batter made with baking soda or powder used as the leavening agent.
Cooked pasta - it’s a mushy mess after it’s frozen. Don’t do it....to anybody….ever. Even Mikey won’t eat it.
- Eggs in their shells, whole hard-boiled eggs, or any egg-based sauces.