A couple of months ago, I asked for a small box freezer for the garage. It was mostly to house pre-made home-made items that during the holidays and winter months tend to take up too much room in the kitchen freezer section of our refrigerator. Since the holidays are over, all the cookie doughs and most of the hors d'oeuvres have been used up. Its time to restock some necessary freezer items. Here is my list for what I keep on hand in the freezer.
1. Meats - we always have chicken thighs - boneless and skinless, chicken breasts - boneless and skinless, ground turkey, beef or chicken, hotdogs, sausage- italian hot and sweet and turkey sausage and turkey breakfast sausage as well, depending on sales at our local markets we may have flank or skirt steaks, ham steaks or kielbasa....this is really up to you and what your families taste is.
2. Frozen Veggies- I cant get enough frozen veggies. Sometimes frozen veggies have more nutrients because they are frozen right after harvesting. I always have mixed veggies to throw in soups, broccoli to add to pasta and stir fry mix for asian meals, I freeze alot of my own cooked veggies as well. Roasted corn from summer and beginning of fall, onions chopped, squashes that have been roasted and mashed or pureed. Most fresh veggies can be frozen, you may have to blanch them before freezing but well worth it.
3. Stocks- I make most of my own stocks. Shrimp stock from the shrimp shells is perfect for a chowder soup, an oven stuffer roaster chicken will be turned into a great stock, and even veggie stocks.
4. Leftovers - leftover Rice, mashed potatoes, sauces, pasta....anything. Most foods can be frozen and I waste nothing. Leftover pasta or rice can be added to soup, leftover mashed potatoes can be turned into curry puff appetizers or used to thicken a sauce. I had leftover roasted squash recently and turned it into a cheesey stuffed shell mixture. I also use leftovers for lunches. I label everything and a small 1/2 cup of leftover rice is a nice addition to a lunch for one of the seniors.
5. Breads and Rolls - I always have package of hamburger or hotdog rolls in the freezer. Ya never know! A freezer bag with some small ciabatta rolls makes it easy to pull out what you need last minute. Even some flatbread - can be used to make pizza or just serve with hummus or spread for that unannounced company. I even try to keep a loaf of challah bread in the freezer for that delicious Breakfast french toast bake you just might decide to make last minute!
6. Fish - we buy and eat alot of fish. We buy fresh frozen portioned individually wrapped fish from BJ's. As long as its WILD caught! Shrimp too! I never buy precooked shrimp either, I like making my own stock from the shrimp shells.
7. Cheese - I love having different bags of shredded cheeses. They freeze well and thaw quickly. I always have Part Skim Mozzarella and Shredded Cheddar!
8. Homemade meals - I premake alot of meals and label for later use. Soups, pasta dishes, casseroles....you name it. If I can prep it ahead I do! Currently I have Delicata squash stuffed shells with a brown butter bechamel sauce, Stuffed Shells with Marinara sauce, Minestrone soup for dinner for 2, 2 servings of Minestrone soup for 1, Roasted Butternut squash side dish for 3, veggie stock, Shrimp stock, turkey stock, Mushroom gravy, and still a bunch of hors d'oeuvres from the holidays.
Each kitchen will find what works for them. This is MY kitchen and I love being prepared. I love going into the freezer to choose my protein and work out my menu from there. Sometimes our plans dont work out as we have planned and its nice to open the freezer or go into the pantry and find something yummy to whip up for a meal! Final pantry part 3 coming soon!