Welcome to another addition of “Outside the Box Monday.” Today, we won’t have a diy recipe or idea but something else that I’ve found tends to save me a lot of money: having a well stocked freezer!
Often I hear about having a well stocked pantry, to keep you from having to run out and get a often used ingredients at regular prize. And while I totally agree with this idea and often stock up on canned tomatoes or soups when they are on sale, I didn’t have a large pantry space in our house in Texas. So I learned to have a well stocked freezer and this let me stock up on stuff on sell or make it myself and not have to run out and buy ingredients at full price or waste my gas running to town.
So what should you stock in your freezer? Here is my list of must have, however, if you think it out yours might be slightly different. Mainly thinking and planning are key!
- Vegetables – These are my number one must have. I much prefer frozen veggies to canned and whether you buy frozen vegetables or freeze your own from the garden or farmer’s market having frozen veggies is a must. Frozen veggies are great sides, wonderful to throw in soups, chili, or even pasta! If you are going to freeze your own, you’ll want to make sure you freeze them correctly depending on the type of vegetable. I followed the directions in this book: Ball Blue Book — Guide to Home Canning, Freezing & Dehydration (Volume 1)
- Fruit – I love having fruit in my freezer too. I save bananas for banana bread or other quick breads. I having berries for smoothies and peaches or peach filling for pies. For more information of freezer fruits, check out Jamie’s Freezer Friendly: Fruits and Veggies.
- Meat – I love buying meat on sale and storing the extra in my freezer. It’s so much cheaper this way. I also love sharing leftover meat this way, like turkey form Thanksgiving or Ham. Make sure you clearly label your meat as it tends to all look the same frozen. Not that I know that from experience or anything. *wink, wink. Turkey Gemelli Soup is a great recipe from frozen leftover turkey and Cheesy Potato and Ham Casserole is a good one from leftover ham.
- Cookie Dough or Cookies – While not everyone might consider these essentials, I love being able to have fresh cookies without much work. I prefer to make a bunch of cookie dough and freeze some as balls of dough so I can bake them whenever I want. Jamie prefers to bake them all and freeze the cookies. Do it however you like, either way you’ll have cookies whenever you need them. Sugar cookie or chocolate chip cookie dough freezes well.
- Chicken Stock – Chicken stock is one of those things that pops up in lots of recipes, I like to make my own and freeze it. Then I just defrost and use when needed. Check out my easy crockpot chicken stock recipe, if you need one.
- Smoothie packets or ingredients – I love smoothies and I love having stuff ready to go in the freezer. You can freeze everything (except for the liquids) you need in one packet or freeze it all separately. I’ve done it both ways. I freeze spinach, fruits, yogurt, and zucchini for smoothies.
- Freezer Meals – I love having a whole meal ready to go in the freezer. Whether it’s one to pop in the oven or better yet, one to throw in the crockpot, freezer meals are so convenient. Check out Jamie’s 4 Easy Chicken Freezer Meals for great freezer meal recipes to get you joining on freezer meals.
- Bread Crumbs – I love crumbling up leftover bread and sticking it in the freezer to use in meatloaf, meatballs or as coating for oven fried chicken. You can season it with Italian seasoning or leave it plain, either way it saves money!
- Waffles or Crepes – If you love homemade breakfast, make extra waffles, or crepes and freeze them!
- Popsicles – Okay, these might not be must haves, but they are something we almost always have in our freezer and we loved having them in the hot, hot summers of Texas. Plus, you can make your own pure fruit popsicles that are much healthier for your kids!
Do you believe in having a well stocked freezer? If so, what are your “freezer essentials?”
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