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7 Ingredients You Should Always Have in Your Freezer

Toni-Ann DiSantis

7 Ingredients You Should Always Have in Your Freezer for Fast Healthy Meals

Stock your freezer with healthy foods like whole-wheat pizza dough, frozen fish and frozen fruit and vegetables, so that you can always cook up a healthy dinner in minutes.

 Are you ever in a rush to get dinner on the table?  Well, turn to your freezer for help.   Keep your freezer  well stocked with a few essential ingredients that will allow you to get a quick and effortless dinner on the table fast. Plus filling your freezer with healthy options makes it less enticing to run and get takeout. Here are a few foods to have on hand and some of the recipes that use them.

Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough -With all the topping combos out there, pizza is one of the easiest healthy dinners to make from the pantry. Is it even possible to get tired of pizza?—and with the dough at the ready, it’s a quick meal to pull together. Just take the pizza dough out of your freezer and let it thaw in your fridge 24 hours before you want to use it.


 Fish Fillets – Fillets of fish are great because you can individually wrap & vacuum-seal them —that helps keep it from getting freezer burn. Stock up on wild Alaskan salmon and farmed U.S. tilapia. If you buy a big bag of fillets, just pull out what you need the night before you’re going to cook it and put it in the refrigerator. A 5-ounce fillet takes 8 to 10 hours to thaw in the fridge.



Fruits and Vegetables -     There are many advantages to having bags of frozen fruit and vegetables on hand. For starters, many of them come already chopped, so that cuts down on prep time. And depending on the season, they can actually be better for you. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at their prime, meaning more flavor and more nutrients than their out-of-season counterparts. And most don’t have added sodium like canned vegetables do. 


If you thaw frozen fruit and vegetables, drain off any water that has collected in the bag or thaw them in a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Depending on the recipe, you may not have to thaw them at all. You can find almost any vegetable and fruit frozen.


Whole-Grain Bread - Bread spoils easily, especially if it’s kept on the counter in plastic. Stop avoiding buying big loaves of bread because of this, bread actually freezes beautifully. They don’t take much time at all to thaw. If fact, slices of bread go from freezer to toaster without a problem. Or just pull out what you need and let it thaw on the counter or in your fridge. It should only need an hour or two (depending on the temperature) to be ready to use.


Pre-Cooked Chicken - Chicken is so versatile, packed with protein and easy to make—the ultimate dinner saver. Having some pre-cooked stashed away in the freezer is essential when you need to get a healthy dinner on the table in a pinch. You can use grilled chicken breasts to top salads, roasted chicken to stir into soups or toss shredded chicken into a quick casserole.


Nuts - Nuts are full of good fats (especially walnuts, which have omega-3s). They are great for baking, topping a salad or just plain snacking. And as it turns out, storing nuts in the freezer is actually better than storing them in your pantry: it prevents the oils from going rancid. They don’t take long to thaw—just 10 minutes or so on the counter and you’re ready to go.


Shredded Cheese - Shred what you don’t use and freeze it. This works best with solid cheeses like Cheddar or Monterey Jack. When you need just a little bit (to top a salad or make quesadillas, for example), it’s there. It thaws almost instantly and the texture and flavor remain unchanged.