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Here is a list of over 20 freezer essentials to have in the freezer to keep it well stocked with ingredients and food you can use for healthy family meals. Use this list to create your own shopping list to stock your freezer.
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 are often cheaper to buy than fresh fruit and vegetables.
Plus, you don’t need to worry about racing to use frozen fruit and vegetables before their use-by date, as their shelf life is much longer. So you actually save money in more than one way.
In fact, having a well-stocked freezer will also stop you from 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 pull a few reliables out of the freezer.
If you are really organised, you can meal plan ahead of each week, 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 evenings when you run out of steam and don’t have the energy to make food from scratch.
Before sharing my list of top freezer essentials, I thought sharing some tips for keeping your freezer organised would be useful.
After all, 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 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 and well-stocked.
- Keep your freezer as full as possible because it 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, 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 finding stuff and keeping track of your inventory much easier.
- Label and date all homemade food
- Freeze into usable portions – especially relevant for meat and fish. You don’t want to use a whole large bag of chicken portions when you only need four of them because they are 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 frozen, you can store them vertically, making them much easier to pull out.
- Layer frozen berries and fruit in freezer bags to avoid clumping. It will save space and make grabbing what you need easier.
- Always remove excess air from freezer bags before freezing to both maximise space saving and avoid freezer burn.
- Decant boxed food items to freezer bags where possible to save room. Cut out cooking instructions and pop them inside the freezer bag.
- Make sure glass or plastic containers are 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 I prefer reusable freezer bags. The two main types of reusable bags are made from PEVA, which is biodegradable and silicone which isn’t.
The benefit of silicone bags is that they are more durable and can be used in the microwave and oven, making them 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 foodstuff that I won’t want to whip out of the freezer and cook in the bag.
I have a set of MoonMoon silicone bags 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 similar to the super popular Stasher silicone bags but come 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 based on what I find most useful in our family freezer.
I’ve included absolute freezer must-haves and things that I think are super useful to have in the freezer if you have a hungry family that needs feeding daily!
1. ESSENTIAL FROZEN VEGETABLES
Having a good selection of vegetables in your freezer is really useful. As vegetables are flash frozen as soon as they are picked, they can have a greater nutritional value than fresh vegetables 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, frozen vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts don’t taste as good as fresh.
But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep a stock of them in the freezer. You need to remember that they will work better in stews, soups or other recipes rather than cooked as they are.
I must also mention frozen vegetable mixes, which are invaluable for throwing together quick but healthy meals.
My go-to’s are frozen Mediterranean vegetables (usually a mix of courgette/zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, and onions) and soffrito.
We use frozen Mediterranean vegetables in tray-bakes, stir-fries, fried as a vegetable accompaniment or in soups.
Whilst soffrito (diced carrots, onion and celery) is the basis for 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 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 or buy frozen herbs until recently. But it turns out that you can, and freezing leftover fresh herbs is a great way to ensure 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; failing that, we always ensure 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 to make breakfast toast. 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 the law that every family should always have a pizza in the freezer. 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, having some frozen pastry in the freezer is always useful. If you’re big on home baking, 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 afterthought (no pun intended), especially when you’re racing to get weeknight 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 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 pour them into ice cube trays. Once frozen, you can decant them into a freezer bag.
Frozen eggs are great for baking, scrambled eggs and omelettes.
SUGGESTIONS FOR DAIRY YOU CAN FREEZE
- Milk – make sure there is room in the top of the container 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
- Meatballs in sauce
- Bolognese sauce
- Shepherds pie/Cottage pie
- Fish pie
- Meat/Vegetable/Fish curry
- Root vegetable soup
- Chicken soup
LIST OF FREEZER ESSENTIALS
As mentioned above, 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. Here's a very simple version of the list
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
And just a little tip before you go... here's a quick guide to the correct way to defrost a freezer
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Luci is the founder of Mums Make Lists (Est. 2011). Over the last decade or so, she has used her experience as a mum to create useful guides to organising family life. During that time, she has found the most joy in creating lists of ideas and inspiration to make it easier for busy parents to plan and host kids’ parties and find great gifts. Read more.
Friday 31st of January 2014
Kale. There are many tasty ways to use super-nutritious kale, most of which work with frozen kale even if you don't thaw it in advance. I don't know about other parts of the world, but in the U.S. fresh kale is affordable all year long and always sold in a big bunch, so whatever I don't use fresh I shred and freeze in convenient portions.---'Becca