The freezer is an amazing appliance, and it's not just made for housing store-bought freezer meals and pizzas either. When used to it's full potential, the freezer can mean the difference between eating homemade, healthy, affordable meals from ordering take out, again. It's basically the best tool available to you in your kitchen -- there's a lot you can freeze -- and we're going to show you how to use it.
If you stock your freezer with the right foods, you'll not only eat better, you'll stress less too (because there will always something to put on the table in a pinch). Here are 13 awesome foods that you should keep stocked in your freezer at all times to live a healthier you.
1. Rice and other cooked grains. Sometimes grains take twice as long to cook than your entire meal. But if you make a batch or two beforehand, when you have extra time, and freeze it you can easily grab it for filling, healthy side dish on the fly.
2. Really ripe bananas. You could make banana bread with these (and freeze it!) OR you could peel them, cut them in three and freeze for blending into delicious smoothies at a later date.
3. Nuts. Nuts are expensive, but cheaper when bought in bulk. The only problem is they don't last forever. Unless of course, you're smart enough to freeze them.
4. Veggie scraps. You really should keep a bag in the freezer for storing veggie scraps at all times. Any time you chop an onion, peel a carrot, or have any leftover bits and pieces from aromatic veggies add them to the bag. Once it's full, use it to make homemade veggie stock. It's so much better than the store-bought kind is a great ingredient to have on hand for cooking risottos, sautéing greens and of course, for making soup.
5. Cookie dough. Next time you make cookies from scratch, don't bake them all. We know this sounds like a crazy idea, but trust us. If you freeze half the batch -- or at least a few pre-scooped cookies -- you can bake up a cookie or two next time the urge for something sweet should strike. It's worth it.
6. Ready-to-cook meals. Some days we have more time than others. On those days, take a few extra minutes to prep and bag a couple of slow cooker recipes. That way, on those days where you're crunched for time you can just empty the contents of a bag into your slow cooker and come home to a from-scratch meal without any effort on your part.
7. Butter. Frozen butter is a baker's best friend. It means the difference between a good pie crust and a great one. And it helps scones and biscuits rise just right. Some baking recipes just need really cold butter. Keep a couple of sticks in the freezer and you'll always be ready. (Or, if you just happen to run out of butter you'll have an extra stash which is nice, too.)
8. Extra fresh herbs. Let's be honest. Most of us buy fresh herbs and never get to use them all because most recipes call for just a few sprigs. Instead of forgetting about them in the back of your fridge, freeze them for a later use.
9. Double your efforts when making dinner. If you're going through the trouble of making a lasagna, it just makes sense to double down your efforts and make another for the freezer. Same goes for beef stew, enchiladas and meatloaf too.
10. Or double down with breakfast. Cooking up a breakfast sandwich? Make a couple extra and freeze them. Getting fancy with breakfast burritos? Roll up a few more and stash them in the freezer. This is gold on those busy mornings. Same goes for pancakes and waffles.
11. Bread. A loaf of bread in the freezer can mean the difference between a quick breakfast option when you have nothing else, or skipping the most important meal of the day all together. Don’t let that happen to you. Stock one or two loaves of whole grain, pre-sliced bread in the freezer for those kinds of mornings.
12. Pre-prepped smoothie ingredients. Having freezer bags with prepped, individually-packaged bags of smoothie ingredients makes it that much easier to make a healthy choice for breakfast or a snack. Make a bunch of these and enjoy them all month long.
13. And last but not least, freezer taco kits. Because taco night should be easy.