Stocking Your Kitchen: 11 Freezer Basics

How does the inside of your freezer look? Is it bare, or stuffed to the brim? If it’s the latter, or you are looking to overhaul your freezer to be more allergy friendly, this is a fantastic place to begin. We have identified 11 of our freezer basics to keep stocked in your freezer at all times.

Why might you change out what is in your freezer? Good question. After all, there are dozens, probably even hundreds, of allergy-friendly frozen meals and treats available in the grocery store. The freezer section might be the easiest place to shop in the entire market! But, keeping a freezer stocked with pre-prepared foods doesn’t normally help when you are trying to make other things. Even if you do choose to eat pre-made freezer meals for dinner, it probably isn’t going to create the kind of table atmosphere you want. Don’t get us wrong, freezer meals serve a great purpose. I eat them for lunch occasionally and they can be delicious.

Instead, keeping a stocked freezer of staples is a great way to get ahead on all of your other cooking. With a few simple things, you can save time on recipes. You can also regain control of the food going into your body, saving you or the one you love from potential sickness. Also, if there is a recipe that you love, odds are you can freeze some for later use.

So clear out all of the food you don’t need any more. Throw out all the freezer-burned items. Get rid of the ready-made meals you really won’t want to eat anyway, and make room for these great things.

 

SINGLE INGREDIENTS + BASICS

  • Frozen meats so you can keep those basics stocked up and free yourself for more of those farmer’s market trips on the weekend (instead of running back and forth to a market). We recommend some ground meat, some whole meat or fish, and perhaps a whole frozen chicken. If you have a less-fancy crockpot, placing frozen meat in at the beginning of the day also means you won’t have overcooked food at the end.
  • Frozen veggies from your garden, a community supported agriculture (CSA) box, or farmer’s market are the best. To freeze your own, take washed and prepared veggies and blanch (dip the veggies into salted, boiling water for between 2 and 5 minutes, depending on how done you want them, and then shock by cooling immediately in ice water), then pat dry with a towel. Freeze on parchment paper or a silicone pad before storing in a container for future use. I always find these are much more flavorful than store bought veggies, and I can create more interesting mixes.
  • Extras bag for future broth. What’s that you might ask? To save time when making broth, we recommend keeping a gallon-sized freezer bag for all the bits and ends of broth-worthy vegetables: carrot tops and greens, potato peelings, extra herbs, green leek tops, onion skins, etcetera. Try to use organic veggies only, as the outer bits of plants are more likely to have pesticides on them. But, when it is time to make broth, all you have to do is place your chicken bones in the pot with the veggie ends, top with filtered water, and let boil. It’s even easier in a crock pot where you don’t have to watch.

 

PREPARED OPTIONS

  • Broth, whatever kind you prefer. Make your broth in large batches then freeze approximately a quart at a time in a plastic container. Defrost as needed for an extra-delicious (and allergy friendly!) base for soups, stews, and risottos.
  • Pesto cubes make a great prepared option. Blend herbs together in a blender or food processor and mix with a little oil as you normally would.
  • Soups are the easiest cold weather food to customize for your dietary restrictions. You can make them using the broth you already have frozen, add whatever you want, any in-season veggies, a protein, and presto! Our recommendation is to make a batch that is one and a half times the recipe size. Then you can freeze the extra half of the recipe, and keep that for later when you don’t have time to cook and want a homemade meal. If you want smaller servings, try freezing it in single portion-sized containers.
  • Chili is another great back-up. Make your favorite recipe and freeze into freezer-safe single-serving containers.  
  • Marinara or pasta sauce is another basic to keep on hand. If you aren’t into canning (another great way to stock up on allergy-friendly food) then freezing is a great way to take the extras of a large batch and keep that just-off-the-vine ripe flavor going all year long. Because, let’s be real: winter tomatoes are just sad compared to their summer cousins. This works well with marinara or meat sauces, but we wouldn’t suggest you freeze a cream-based sauce.

 

TREATS

  • Frozen fruit from different seasons. To save yourself time breaking apart large chunks later, freeze pieces on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone pad, and then place into your container. Our favorites? Strawberries, peach slices, and grapes.
  • Cookie dough (link to Elizabeth’s recipe), because who doesn’t want to be able to make 3-6 cookies at a time? Even more, who doesn’t like on-demand cookies? No one? We thought so.
  • Lemon ice cubes might not sound like a treat right away. But believe me–when it is the middle of summer, and you want to cool down a glass of water or tea, this is a refreshing little treat. Mix half lemon juice and half water (or stronger on the juice if you want) and freeze as normal.

 

Are there any other essentials you have found? We are all ears! Send us an email, or comment below. We would love to hear all of the homemade, time saving, and delicious things you keep in your freezer!

About the Author:

At Mary Lee Kitchen, we believe that what we eat matters. Each of us has the right to know what is in our food. Over the years the food industry has negatively impacted our health and well being. This has caused the rise of food allergies, food sensitivities, rise in child obesity- which are just a few of the harmful side effects of the food manufactures created. It is time for us to implement change. I am a food artisan that creates allergy free products that are made in a sustainable way. Through my own experience with rare food allergies, I have learned how to cook in a way that is inclusive for all diets. Through food education, recipes, and products I support the gathering of all people around the kitchen table.

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