Now that we’ve posted about foods to stock in your pantry and refrigerator, it’s time to “chill” and talk about foods to keep in your freezer. Here are some reasons why your freezer can be your best friend:
- It’s a wonderful time-saving device when you don’t have time to cook from scratch
- Once defrosted, frozen foods are just as tasty as they were when fresh
- Perishable foods last longer when frozen
Freezing is a smart way to avoid wasting food (and money). Foods (like meat) that are approaching their expiration date can be safely stored in the freezer, and thawed once you’re ready to use them. Although perishable foods do last longer when frozen than when kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator, don’t forget that they won’t last forever. This chart is very helpful for knowing how long your frozen foods are good for. Smart tip: write a date on every item you stick in your freezer. That way, you’ll know whether or not it’s still safe to eat.
Also keep in mind that there are right and wrong ways to thaw frozen food items. Read up on the right way to thaw frozen food to make sure you’re not putting yourself at risk for getting sick from your food.
Better Pantry Freezer Foods
- Loaves of whole grain bread
- Muffins: make a large batch and store in the freezer for a quick breakfast on busy mornings.
- Pizza dough: having frozen portions ready to go in the freezer makes homemade pizza nights quick, easy, and kid-friendly.
[Loaves of bread can be kept in the freezer to extend shelf life. Make sure loaves are wrapped tightly with plastic and foil to keep any air from seeping in. Muffins and unrisen dough should also be sealed tightly in plastic bags.]
- Berries: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries
- Tropical fruit mix
[Buying frozen fruit is a great way to keep from wasting money on fresh fruit that spoils before you can eat it. Fruits that are out of season, especially berries, are actually cheaper when bought frozen instead of fresh. Fruit is frozen at its peak in freshness, so you know you’ll always be getting the sweetest, ripest fruit. Be sure to buy frozen fruit unsweetened so that it doesn’t have extra sugar added to it.]
- Green beans
- Blends of several different veggies
[Frozen vegetables are really convenient – they are already prepped and ready to cook so that you don’t have to worry about any rinsing or chopping. Just like fruit, out of season fresh veggies can be expensive. Buying the frozen option can save on cost without losing flavor.]
- Fish (tilapia, flounder, shrimp, salmon)
- Ground meat (beef, chicken, turkey)
[If you find a good sale on meat, stock up and freeze the extras to use later on.]
- Hard or semi-hard cheese
- Cottage, ricotta, and cream cheese
- Sour cream
[Freezing dairy products can cause changes in their texture. For that reason, these items work best when added into recipes instead of being eaten alone. For more basics on freezing dairy products and how freezing may change their quality, click here.]
- Jams and jellies: check out these tips and recipes to make your own “freezer jelly” at home.
Not only can you freeze the individual “ingredients” listed above, but prepared meals like stews, soups, and casseroles can be frozen and reheated later on. Check out this helpful fact sheet, paying special attention to page 2 for tips on freezing and serving prepared meals. See, your freezer really is a wonderful thing!
What’s in your freezer? How long has it been since you cleaned it out? Now might be the time to sort the fresh items from the freezer-burned!