Before I had a baby, my freezer was like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It seemed impenetrable, things had been there forever, and whoever was brave enough to wade through it would receive handsome rewards.
There were bottles of expensive vodka, the juice of lemons I had brought home from Capri, and batches of peach ice cream I made in the summer. There was the top tier of wedding cake for a year after my wedding. (Once my husband noticed it back there, he legitimately asked me if there was a human head in the freezer. I should have said yes).
These days, my freezer is less of an exciting addition to my fridge and more of a lifeline. On nights when the day was overwhelming, my baby is fussy, or I just don't feel like cooking or making a mess in the kitchen, that freezer is a necessity. Here are items I always have in my freezer.
Say what you will, but Dr. Praeger is my personal savior. These little potato and kale nuggets are ready quickly, pack a healthy does of veggies, are soft enough for nights when my little one is teething, and are great room temperature for a snack on the go. Plus, they taste great eaten right off the floor when my son drops them. Dr. Praeger, I heart you.
2. Wholesome Chicken Nuggets
I make my baby teriyaki salmon, bolognese sauce, and asparagus ramp soup, but I can't help it if the kid loves fried chicken the most. Sure, I occasionally make a mean chicken cutlet from scratch, but there's no shame in my chicken nugget game. I look at the ingredients carefully and if it's all stuff I can pronounce, I toss it in my cart. It's protein, it's carbs, and it really fills out a dinner plate.
This stuff is amazing. My entire family eats it steamed and topped with Parmesan and butter, mixed into pad see ew, or puréed into banana muffins. Frozen broccoli has a ton of calcium and is incredibly versatile and welcome in many different cuisines. I always have this on hand.
Plain. With peanut butter. Next to eggs. Cut into tiny pieces or gnawed on like a small, floppy frisbee. I can make a variety of different kinds — gluten-free, organic, whole-grain, with fruit. They are awesome for meals and snacks. Even plain, they make delicious "handcakes."
The universe didn't give me a baby who was sleeping through the night at eight weeks. It did give me a baby who loves Indian food. I think it's a really fair tradeoff, actually. Dal freezes beautifully. It's filled with vegetables and healthy spices (hi, turmeric) and it's easy to make a huge batch at once. When it's chow time, I just heat it up, mix it with some Greek yogurt, and dinner is served.