There are certain things that I always make sure to have on hand to make feeding my family a cinch.
What’s in your freezer? Mine is filled with foods designed to help me make a fast, fresh and delicious dinner (or breakfast!) with minimal fuss. What are my must-haves?
- Frozen shrimp – Did you know that most often when you buy shrimp at the fish counter at your favorite grocery store or fish market, it’s previously frozen? It’s true. So when uncooked EZ-peel shrimp go on sale, I always buy a bag or two to keep on hand. Then I can just defrost and use them as needed. Hint: To easily defrost shrimp, place them in a colander and run cool water over them for 10 minutes.
- Thin-cut boneless chicken breasts – This is, hands down, my favorite cut of chicken. Why? Because it’s so easy. The thin-cut breasts cook evenly and quickly for a fast dinner. Plus, they are great in everything from Chicken Parmigiana to Chicken Cordon Bleu to grilled chicken.
- Lemon rinds – It’s not often that I will squeeze a lemon and also have a use for the zest (the yellow outside) at the same time. So I just toss the lemon rinds in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer. Then, when I need some zest, I can just pull one or two out, zest and be all set – all without wasting a lemon.
- Chicken sausage – Depending on the variety of chicken sausage, these can make a breakfast for dinner night substantial, spice up a pasta or fill a roll along with peppers, onions, sauce and cheese. Chicken sausage is so easy too because it often comes precooked, it takes minutes to heat up and use.
- Ground beef – Want versatile? Ground beef is it. Here’s the short list of what I use it in: chili, meatballs, bolognese sauce, lasagna, tacos, sloppy joes, burgers and sliders. Defrosting a pound of ground beef opens the doors for so many possibilities.
- Homemade pesto – Every summer, I make lots of pesto with whatever greens we have laying around. Then I freeze it in small containers. Taking one out to mix with pasta or spread on sandwiches is like having a taste of summer all winter long.
- Chopped walnuts – I know what you are thinking: walnuts? Really? But yes, really. Walnuts are one of those nuts that can turn fast if you don’t use them up, so I keep mine in the freezer and it guarantees that I always have some for cookies, brownies, pesto and more.
- Bacon – When I buy bacon, I always freeze it whole. Then, when I want a little for a recipe, I cut off about a 1/4-inch slice (I cut it perpendicular to the strips) per slice I want to use. That way I get my bacon without feeling pressured to use a whole pound at once.
- Edamame – My kids adore edamame (me too!) so I keep a bag of in-shell in the freezer so when we want some, we can just defrost it. I’ve also started keeping a bag of shelled edamame in there as well so I can heat it up and add to salads and stir-fries.
- Wild blueberries – The tartness of wild blueberries is a great contrast to sweet muffins, pancakes and breads, so I always have them in the freezer to toss in when we need them.