Meal planning and food prep rely on having a well-stocked kitchen. Focusing on the freezer items that you should always have on hand, and keep an eye out for in the sales flyers to restock/stock-up for upcoming weeks. Take a look, and comment on any of your favorite must-have freezer items for meal prep below!
Item #1 – Vegetables
Corn, Peas, Green Beans (I prefer the thin/french cut option), french fries, tater tots, chopped spinach, hash browns (shredded and cubed). And, any others that might be part of your weekly cooking routine.
My freezer staples shift seasonally, especially in the spring and summer when fresh vegetables are on a consistent rotation on my grill or in salads. you purchase 20 ears of summer corn for a BBQ, and 4lbs of tomatoes for a huge salad, but everything gets rescheduled?
My summer produce overflow recommendations –
- Spinach – freeze raw to include in smoothies or sauté with some olive oil, salt and pepper to
- Bell Peppers – Grill or roast them, perfect prep for winter tacos and fajitas or to add to soups and casseroles
- Potatoes – roast and grill them, freeze to use as a side dish, defost and mash them for fresher mashed potatoes. Bake and scoop out centers; freeze skins to use as baked potato skins for the Sunday sports viewing parties!
- Carrots / Root Vegetables – grill or roast them, and puree for soups, stews, casseroles or a quick side
- Tomatoes – Roast with some of the carrots/root vegetables and onions, then blend until smooth for a quick tomato/pizza/pasta sauce throughout the winter
Item #2 – Fruit
- Fresh berries – cut (if larger) and freeze in freezer bags or containers to use in smoothies or as a topping for ice cream, all-fruit popsicles, oatmeal and add to water for some different flavors
- Bananas – Cut into quarters and freeze. You can make banana bread, add to smoothies, mash into overnight oats or rice pudding
- Blend any fruit combination with a small amount (up to 1T) of agave nectar or honey and freeze in a popsicle mold for fresh fruit smoothies anytime! I recommend this popsicle mold
- Citrus Fruits – squeeze juice into a measuring cup and divide among silicone ice cub trays to freeze and use in recipes that need citrus juice in the winter months, in water, lemonade, mixed drinks and colorful/flavorful ice cubes
Item #3 – Protein Pieces
- Chicken and pork – bone-in and boneless, and buy in bulk when on sale, just separate into 1lb packages once you’re home! Consider preparing a few multi-purpose marinades, like this one from What’s Gaby Cooking or this one from Giada DeLaurentiis; that you can add to a couple of the freezer containers before freezing so that as the chicken defrosts on the day it will be cooked, it marinates, saving time and extra steps during the busy weekdays.
- Fish, such as Salmon, Cod, Red Snapper, Tilapia – Freeze in individual filets. These make great pieces to grill with a simple spice rub or quick marinade, and fish such as cod is fantastic for fish tacos.
- Seafood, such as shrimp, scallops and calamari – generally seafood comes frozen, so you can pop them right in the freezer and season/marinate it as it defrosts the day you’re cooking it.
- Ground meats – if you’ll be making burgers or meatballs, these can be prepared during your longer prep day, and frozen, still raw, so that you can cook them on the specific day. This helps for planning for larger parties or gatherings as well, frozen meatballs just need a quick bake/saute, and tossed with pasta and tomato sauce.
Item #4 – Larger Proteins, such as pork shoulder, chuck roast, beef tenderloin and whole chickens
- Crockpot chicken broth that will yield the broth as well as rotisserie-style / cooked chicken to freeze and use for future recipes
- Crockpot BBQ Pork for a Sunday Night dinner and a few dinners during future weeks. Add buns and coleslaw and you’re set!
- Crockpot or Dutch Oven Beef Chili, beans or not, for a weekend project and lunches throughout the week
Item #5 – Grated/Shredded Cheese
Cheese can be expensive! Buy frequently used hard cheeses and grate/shred them (it’s cheaper and tastes/melts better this way too!) on your larger prep day and freeze to use in the future. Don’t worry about leaving in the refrigerator where it can become soggy or moldy, and, you’ll always have the cheese you need available without having to stop at the store on the way home or start a recipe only to find the refrigerated cheese didn’t hold up over the previous week or two.
Some meal ideas for all the shredded/grated cheese:
- Topping for spaghetti dinners
- Lasagna filling and toppings
- Stuffed meatballs or hamburgers
- Grilled cheese – and it melts more evenly than slices from the deli
- Enchiladas and tacos
- Cheese Sauce for french fries, nachos, baked potatoes, etc.
Questions about how to stock your freezer or use what you already have to make room for new items? Reach out to me leave a comment below or email me. I look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve your meal prep goals!