Fridge and Freezer Basics
Here are some standard frozen foods I try to keep on hand at all times so I can pull together a meal in a pinch. These aren’t the only things I have around, but I make regular use of them.
- The Big Three: Mustard, mayonnaise, soy sauce. I find I need these all the time in a wide range of recipes. For mustard, I have basic yellow and Dijon. For soy, I have a basic one for serving and tamari for adding more depth to soups and stews.
- BBQ sauce. Essential for BBQ season but it can also come in handy for quick chicken dishes, glazing frozen meatballs, and other situations.
- Garlic, minced. Awesome for times that you don’t feel like mincing fresh garlic.
- Guacamole. I realize not everyone likes guacamole, but if you do, try to keep some single serving containers in your fridge. The shelf life is relatively long and you can use it when you make tacos out of leftovers, in bean pizza, on a turkey sandwich, or for a light snack with nachos.
- Ketchup. A standard for serving and, occasionally, for cooking.
- Lemon and lime juices. I tend to use fresh lemons and limes but they don’t have the same shelf life as bottled juices. Both are good to have on hand for a variety of dishes.
- Olives. A lot of dishes call for olives because they add so much flavour. They’re also handy to have around for pizza night.
- Ranch dressing. Honestly, this is not my thing, but if you have kids, you might want this as a dip for crudites.
- Salsa. A great all-round dip and essential for meals inspired by Mexican food. (Also listed in my Pantry Basics since it lives there before it is opened.)
- Vinaigrette salad dressing. I generally choose a Greek dressing. Sure, it’s easy to make dressing from scratch, but a good store-bought dressing lets you pull things together in a snap, like my Quick Bean Salad.
- Appetizers. Good for snacks or Freezer Fusion. Try mini-quiche, samosas, falafels, spring rolls.
- Chicken fingers or nuggets. If possible, get fully cooked options so you have less worry about undercooking things. Party packs are also a good option for adding a little variety.
- Burgers in various forms. We keep beef and chicken burgers (usually breaded) in our freezer pretty much all the time. I’ve also had salmon burgers for a quick meal of fish.
- Fries or potato wedges.
- Individual portions of meat. If you have the freezer space, it is great to buy meat in bulk and freeze it in smaller portions, e.g. one-pound portions of ground beef, chicken breasts in pairs or whatever amount you need for a meal.
- Meatballs. There are lots of meal options with frozen meatballs. I usually have chicken meatballs on hand, but beef or veggie are fine too.
- Vegetables. I prefer fresh but frozen vegetables obviously have a longer shelf life and can be easily incorporated into sauces, soups, and even smoothies. Think green beans, corn, edamame, broccoli, and squash, to name a few.
- And for smoothies…keep a variety of frozen fruit in your freezer. The essentials I always have: blueberries, strawberries, mango, and pineapple.
Refrigerator image by Illustration Kydriashka |Dreamstime.com