Pantry Essentials: Frozen Food List

frozen meat, fruit and vegetables spread out on a blue surface
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Whether we’re whipping up a quick breakfast smoothie or suddenly find ourselves feeding a bigger crowd than expected, these are the 9 frozen foods that we keep around for everyday emergencies.

Pantry Essentials: Frozen Food List 

A well-stocked freezer is the secret to getting a healthy dinner on the table in a hurry. Pair it with a decently-loaded pantry and you’ll be able to buy yourself a little time and effort anytime you need it. 

While we’re not above buying the occasional frozen pizza or bag of frozen dumplings, this must-have frozen foods list is more about stocking frozen whole foods—veggies, fruit and meat. Having a well-stocked freezer means that you can get a homemade meal on the table even on nights when you’re short on time. Instead of ordering last minute take-out, you’ll be able to throw together a quick & healthy dinner—which is as good for your wallet as it is for your body. 

Whether we’re whipping up a quick breakfast smoothie or suddenly find ourselves feeding a bigger crowd than expected, these are the nine frozen foods that we keep around for everyday emergencies.  

frozen bananas, strawberries and pineapple

FROZEN FRUIT

Is there any parent, anywhere, without a few, brown frozen bananas of unknown age lurking around in their freezer? While we’re fans of the frozen banana, we like to keep a pretty good stash of fruit in the freezer for myriad uses—for smoothies, tossing into pancakes and just general snacking! Plus, did you know that frozen fruit is just as healthy as fresh? Picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen, high-quality frozen fruit is a great way to get all the nutrients your body needs—especially during the winter when it’s harder to find good quality fresh fruit. The frozen fruits you’ll always find in our freezer include: 

  • Frozen bananas—for banana bread at a moment’s notice. 
  • Frozen pineapple—piña coladas, anyone? Plus, does anyone hate dealing with fresh pineapple as much as we do? Also delicious for smoothies. 
  • Frozen strawberries—we’ll snack on these straight out of the freezer, but they’re also great for making syrup for pancakes and waffles. We also love them for smoothies—just toss some plain yogurt in a blender along with a good scoop of creamy peanut butter and a big handful of frozen strawberries and you’ve got yourself a healthy PB&J smoothie that everyone will love.
frozen peas, frozen soy beans, frozen edamame in small bowls

FROZEN VEGETABLES

Frozen vegetables are at the top of our frozen food list, right along with fruit. Sometimes the only thing holding us back from putting more veggies in our dinner is the (admittedly minor) hassle of prep—washing / peeling / chopping. Frozen vegetables are prepped and ready to go, which means you can usually just toss them into a dish right at the end. Our favorite frozen vegetables are: 

  • Frozen peas—if you have kids, you have frozen peas in the freezer. They’re quick, easy, a little sweet, and you can toss them into a pot of boiling pasta right at the end and suddenly a guilt-inducing mac and cheese dinner becomes a veggie-loaded bowl of balanced goodness. Also good for icing injuries of various kinds, which is (let’s be honest) another consideration if you’ve got a houseful of kids.
  • Frozen edamame—great for healthy snacking, and really handy if friends drop by for drinks, frozen edamame (which, as you know, is the Japanese word for soybeans) are the please-everyone party nibble. They’re gluten-free, low-carb, munchy and delicious—they’re all the things! Plus, they only take about two minutes to prep. If you’re feeling fancy, toss the warm edamame with a little sesame oil and kosher salt before serving.  

FROZEN FISH & MEAT

Depending on the size of your freezer, this frozen food list may look a little daunting or totally tackle-able. If you have a chest freezer, you’re probably already on top of it and have all of these frozen foods on-hand and then some!  One of the key things to remember with frozen meat and fish is how long frozen meat is good for. There’s a handy chart about how long meat can be frozen here, but we’ll also call out how long each of the frozen meats on our list are good for below. 

Here are the frozen meat, poultry and fish that we usually keep on-hand: 

  • Frozen salmon. The vast majority of fish you buy at a grocery store was flash frozen minutes after being caught, so fish and freezers get along quite well. If you belong to any sort of salmon share, you’ll usually receive your salmon filets frozen so you might already be accustomed to the idea that frozen salmon is a good thing. We like to watch for sales—a lot of times when salmon season is peaking, it will go on crazy sale—buy a bunch when fresh, wild salmon is cheap, and toss the raw salmon filets in the freezer for later use. Store in the freezer for up to eight months.
  • Frozen boneless skinless chicken breast & chicken thighs. We love a good crispy chicken thigh, but simple poached chicken breast is one of our favorite easy comfort foods, too. The simplest, healthiest, least-likely-to-go-uneaten meals start with defrosting some frozen chicken, right? Plus, with recipes like this one (or this one, or this one) there’s no reason chicken has to be boring. You can store chicken pieces in the freezer for up to nine months. 
  • Frozen bacon. Do we even need to say it? Brunch at home! Cobb salad! BLTs! The reasons to keep bacon around are limitless. It’s only good in the freezer for about a month‚ but we doubt that’ll be a problem. Who has trouble using up bacon? 
  • Frozen ground turkey, chicken and beef. Ground meat is maybe the ultimate blank slate—from chicken meatballs to beef sliders to turkey meatloaf and everything in between, ground meat is a must. Just be aware that ground meat has a shorter shelf-life than larger-format cuts of meat—use ground meats within three months of purchase. 

What’d We Miss?

What’s on your must-have frozen food list? When you open your freezer, what do you love to see in there? What genius short-cuts have you dreamt up when digging around in your freezer trying to feed a crowd? We want to know! Snap a photo of your the inside of your freezer (if you dare!) and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so we can see! Happy eating!