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Here is list of over 20 freezer essentials you should have in the freezer to keep it well stocked with ingredients and food you can use for healthy family meals.
FREEZER ESSENTIALS: THE BENEFITS OF HAVING A WELL STOCKED FREEZER
Keeping your freezer well stocked with a good selection of staples is a great way to guarantee that there is always something you can have to hand for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Having a well stocked freezer is also a great way to save money. Frozen fruit and vegetables is often cheaper to buy than fresh fruit and vegetables.
In fact, having a well stocked freezer will also stop you dialling for takeaway or panic buying from the supermarket on the way home from work, so there is also a saving to be made there!
And speaking of panic buying, having a freezer stocked with healthy ingredients and staple foods will help reduce your stress levels, as it is so much easier to throw together a healthy family meal when you know you can just pull a few reliables out of the freezer.
If you are really organised, you can meal plan ahead of each week and use frozen food or food you make in advance and then freeze to ensure that you have healthy meal options for every night of the week.
One of the biggest delights of having a cleverly stocked freezer is on those days or evening when you run out of steam and just don’t have the energy to make food from scratch.
Just ahead of sharing my list of top freezer essentials I thought it would be useful to share some tips for keeping your freezer organised.
Afterall it is much easier to keep on top of what is in your freezer if you can actually see what is in it and easier to use stuff from your freezer if it is easy to access and defrost.
USEFUL TIPS FOR ORGANISING YOUR FREEZER
It’s so easy to just stuff frozen food into the freezer as you pull it from supermarket bags. Here are some simple tips to help you keep your freezer well organised as well as well stocked.
- Keep your freezer as full as possible because the freezer will work most efficiently when it is stocked full with as little space for air as possible. This ensures that everything is kept as cold as possible when you open the freezer too, as there is less air warming up around the frozen food when you open the door
- Keep a freezer inventory to make sure you always know what you have and what you need to add to your grocery shopping list to keep your freezer well stocked
- Divide your freezer into zones if it’s a chest freezer or designate a different freezer drawer for a different food type if it’s an upright freezer. It will make it so much easier to find stuff and keep track for your inventory
- Label and date all homemade food
- Freeze into usable portions – especially relevant for meat and fish. You don’t want to have to use a whole large bag of chicken portions when you only need four of them, just because their frozen together
- Use reusable freezer bags* rather than containers to save space. Storing things like soups and meat sauces flat makes them easier to store. Once they are frozen you can store them vertically which makes them much easier to pull out
- Layer frozen berries and fruit in freezer bags to avoid clumping. It will save space and also make it easier to grab what you need
- Always remove excess air from freezer bags before freezing to both maximise space saving and to avoid freezer burn
- Decant boxed food items to freezer bags where possible to save room. Cut out cooking instructions and pop inside the freezer bag
- Make sure glass or plastic containers as close to the size of the food you are storing as possible, excess space can lead to freezer burn
*A QUICK NOTE ON REUSABLE FREEZER BAGS
I avoid using single-use plastic wherever possible, so my preference is to use reusable freezer bags. The two main types of reusable bag are made from PEVA, which is biodegradable or silicone which isn’t.
The benefit of silicone bags is that they are more durable and can be used in the microwave and oven, so tend to be more useful for longer.
I have both PEVA and silicone reusable freezer bags. I have a set of MHSEcoFriendly freezer bags made of PEVA for individual food stuff that I won’t want to whip out of the freezer and cook in the bag.
I have a set of MoonMoon silicone bags that I use for sauces and stews, where I want to grab them from the freezer and pop them in the microwave or boil them in a pan. The MoonMoon silicone bags are very similar to the super popular Stasher silicone bags, but come in at a cheaper price point.
LIST OF 20+ FREEZER ESSENTIALS
Every family will have different likes and dislikes so the list of freezer essentials I have put together is a guide based on what I find most useful to have in our family freezer.
I’ve included absolute freezer must-haves and also things that I think are super useful to have in the freezer if you have a hungry family that needs feeding on a daily basis!
1. ESSENTIAL FROZEN VEGETABLES
It’s really useful to have a good selection of vegetables in your freezer. As vegetables freeze are flash frozen as soon as they are picked they can have a greater nutritional value than fresh vegetables that have been transported across the country or around the globe.
The one thing I will say is that some vegetables freeze better than others as far as how they taste and their texture is concerned when use defrost them.
Possibly the queen of all frozen vegetables is the frozen pea, which is utterly delicious from frozen. Peppers, aubergine and courgette also fare well and taste good. However, I find that vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts don’t taste as good from frozen.
But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep a stock of them in the freezer, you just need to bear in mind that they will work better in stews, soups or other recipes rather than cooked as they are.
I must also give a special mention to frozen vegetable mixes, which are invaluable for throwing together quick but healthy meals.
My absolute go-tos are frozen mediterranean vegetables (usually a mix of courgette/zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, onions) and soffritto.
We use frozen mediterranean vegetables in tray-bakes, stir-fries, fried as a vegetable accompaniment or in soups.
Whilst soffritto (diced carrots, onion and celery) is the basis for pretty much most sauces, soups and stews in Italian cooking.
With all this in mind, here is my list of suggestions for the essential vegetables to have in your freezer
FROZEN VEGETABLE STAPLES
- Green beans
- Sweetcorn/corn on the cob
- Brussels Sprouts
- Mediterranean vegetable mix
- Frozen chips – Ok, so they aren’t highly nutritious, but they are an essential for any family freezer as an enticing accompaniment to any healthy food that you really do want your kids to eat!!
Other useful vegetables to have in the freezer are:
- Butternut Squash
- Tomatoes/Tomato sauce
- Garlic (crushed)
- Edamame (soya) beans
2. ESSENTIAL FROZEN HERBS
I didn’t realise you could freeze herbs or buy frozen herbs until quite recently. But it turns out that you can and that freezing leftover fresh herbs is a great way to make sure you aren’t wasting anything.
The best way to freeze herbs is to use an ice-cube tray. Just chop the herbs, pop them into the ice-cube spaces on the tray, add a little water and then stick the ice-cube tray in the freezer. Once frozen you can decant the frozen cubes of herbs into a freezer bag.
Here is a list of herbs that freeze well:
- Ginger – ok it’s a spice not a herb, but it’s worth a mention, as it’s almost guaranteed that if you buy ginger root as an ingredient you won’t use the whole lot in one go!
3. ESSENTIAL FROZEN FRUIT
Fruit is another winner to have in the freezer. There are just so many things you can use it for, from smoothies to breakfast toppings to healthy desserts.
FROZEN FRUITS STAPLES
- Frozen berries – strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrant, blueberries
- Apples – Cooked apple is handy for whipping up desserts
- Smoothie fruit bags – usually contain a berry mix or things like pineapple, banana and mango
4. ESSENTIAL MEAT AND FISH TO FREEZE
No two families will have the same meat preferences, so this list is based on what we eat as a family of carnivores who like to eat a mix of red meat, poultry, fish and seafood (prawns!)
We buy organic meat in the main and failing that always make sure all our meat is high-welfare and free-range. We also make sure that our fish is from sustainable sources.
Fillets of fish are brilliant for super quick meals, they can be microwaved or baked in foil with simple dressing in less than 15 minutes.
MEAT AND FISH STAPLES FOR THE FREEZER
- Beef burgers
- Beef mince (ground beef)
- Chicken breasts
- Chicken thighs
- Turkey mince
- Haddock fillets
- Sea bass fillets
- Salmon fillets
- Fish fingers – what kid doesn’t love a fish finger?!
- Fish cakes
5. BAKED FOOD FREEZER ESSENTIALS
Baked foods tend to freeze really well and are great for making quick meals.
Then of course there is bread, which freezes exceptionally well. We tend to slice and freeze bread on the day of purchase, then grab it by the slice for making toast for breakfast. It’s much better than racing to use a loaf kept in a cupboard or breadbin.
The other epic frozen baked food is pizza! It should be law that every family should have a pizza in the freezer at all times. It’s a total fail-safe for last minute snacks and meals.
FROZEN BAKED FOOD ESSENTIALS
- Pitta bread/soft tortilla wraps – great for quick lunches and snacks
- Garlic bread
- Croissants/Pain au chocolat
- Cinnamon rolls
- Meat pies
Speaking of baked goods, it is always useful to have some frozen pastry in the freezer. If you’re big on homebaking, then perhaps it would be good to have a selection of the following:
- Short-crust pastry
- Puff pastry
- Filo pastry
6. FROZEN DESSERT ESSENTIALS
Dessert can often be an after-thought (no pun intended) especially when you’re racing to get week night dinners on the table. So it’s good to have some dessert options in the freezer.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FROZEN DESSERTS
- Frozen yoghurt
- Custard – I didn’t even know you could do this until recently, but it’s totally possible to freeze custard!
7. DAIRY ESSENTIALS YOU CAN FREEZE
I find it is super useful to have some dairy staples in the freezer. Whilst cream doesn’t freeze well, milk and butter freeze extremely well.
You can also freeze eggs, just don’t try to freeze raw eggs in their shells. The best way to freeze them is to whisk up a batch of eggs and then pour them into ice cube trays. Once frozen you can decant them into a freezer bag.
Frozen eggs are great for baking, for scrambled eggs and omelettes.
SUGGESTIONS FOR DAIRY YOU CAN FREEZE
- Milk – make sure there is room in the top of the container for it to expand. NB. semi-skimmed and skimmed milk freezes better than full-fat
8. FROZEN PREMADE MEAL ESSENTIALS
How amazing is it to be safe in the knowledge that you can pull a premade meal from the freezer, defrost it and serve it?!
Here is a little list of things you can either buy to have stocked in the freezer or make in advance to have as ready-made meals:
- Meat pies
- Mac and cheese
- Meat-balls in sauce
- Bolognese sauce
- Shepherds pie/Cottage pie
- Fish pie
- Meat/Vegetable/Fish curry
- Root vegetable soup
- Chicken soup
LIST OF FREEZER ESSENTIALS
Sweetcorn/corn on the cob
Mediterranean vegetable mix
Other useful vegetables to have in the freezer are:
Edamame (soya) beans
Frozen chips2. ESSENTIAL FROZEN HERBS
Thyme3. ESSENTIAL FROZEN FRUIT
Frozen berries - strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrant, blueberries
Apples - Cooked apple is handy for whipping up desserts
Smoothie fruit bags - usually contain a berry mix or things like pineapple, banana and mango4. ESSENTIAL MEAT AND FISH TO FREEZE
Beef mince (ground beef)
Sea bass fillets
Fish fingers - what kid doesn’t love a fish finger?!
Fish cakes5. BAKED FOOD FREEZER ESSENTIALS
Pitta bread/soft tortilla wraps - great for quick lunches and snacks
Croissants/Pain au chocolat
Filo pastry6. FROZEN DESSERT ESSENTIALS
7. DAIRY ESSENTIALS YOU CAN FREEZE
Eggs8. FROZEN PREMADE MEAL ESSENTIALS
Mac and cheese
Meat-balls in sauce
Shepherds pie/Cottage pie
Root vegetable soup
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Luci is the founder of Mums Make Lists. She has written about all aspects of organising family life for ten years. Her main areas of expertise are family finance and budgeting, simplifying housekeeping and family admin and kids’ party planning. Read more.