6 Things To Keep In Your Freezer At All Times

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For Bon Appetit, by Elyssa Goldberg.

The freezer is the underwear drawer of your kitchen. It's where you stash unseemly leftovers from six months ago and half-eaten pints of freezer-burned ice cream you picked up late one night and forgot about. But it can also be your saving grace on those nights when you have nothing more than a few cans of beans in the cupboard, or those mornings when you don't want to spend $5 on a mediocre muffin. So we asked the Bon Appétit test kitchen for their freezer staples, and here's what they said.

1. Spinach

Frozen spinach is packaged at peak ripeness, so you can have the leafy greens available even in the off-season. (I usually throw a ton of chopped kale in my freezer as well, just for variety's sake.) They may not be appropriate as a base for a salad but thawed spinach works well when you cook it. Use it to put together a lightning-fast Indian-style spinach and chickpea dish, packed with fragrant cumin, curry, and turmeric, or to make-ahead a big batch of turkey meatballs. Coming home at 9 p.m. on Tuesday never seemed so easy.

Get this recipe: Turkey Spinach Sliders

2. Bananas

Frozen fruits are a smoothie's best friend, and that magic begins with freezing bananas. When frozen, bananas take on a creamier texture, and can be blended into a makeshift ice cream substitute. They can also become the creamy foundation to your morning smoothie. And never underestimate the power of frozen bananas dipped in almond butter and bedazzled with a few chocolate chips.

3. Nuts and Seeds

We know how irritating it can be to buy a large bag of wheat germ, flaxseed, sesame seeds, pistachios, or pecans only to use a cup of them for a recipe and then watch them go rancid by the next time you want them. Try freezing them in Ziploc bags instead, so you can measure out the amount you want as you need them.

Get this recipe: Pistachio-Yogurt Sauce

4. Stock

On the coldest winter days, there's really only one thing to do: Get a big pot of stock going on your stove. Make way more than you think you need and divvy it up into Tupperware that you can store in your freezer for the next snowy day. You'll thank yourself later.

Get this recipe: Back-Burner Stock

5. Chiles

Whenever you get your hands on a special ingredient like Thai chiles, habaneros, or dried chiles, use what you need and immediately store the rest in your freezer. As diligent as you may be at using ingredients soon after you buy them, throwing out hard-to-find chiles makes us feel a special kind of self-loathing, and we'd rather avoid it. (See also: lemongrass, bonito flakes, and kaffir lime.)

6. Grains and Flours

Say you ordered some organic, heirloom farro from Anson Mills. That's not the kind of thing you want to spoil before you get around to finishing. When it comes to nice flours or specialty grains, the freezer's the way to go.

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