I like to think that one's freezer is a lot like one's medicine cabinet. A peek inside reveals so much about the character and lifestyle of its owner!
I suppose a refrigerator can offer you a similar insider perspective, but the freezer? Well, the freezer really gives you a look at the person's future hopes and dreams — what is she stashing away in cold storage? — as well as one's everyday habits and preferences.
Coming from the woman who wrote the book on freezer cooking, it may surprise you to learn what's deep inside my freezer at any given moment.
My freezer not only saves me time in allowing me to batch-cook in advance, but it also saves me money, holding my stash of grocery items that I buy in bulk or on sale to help lower our food budget and still eat well. Bonus: It allows me to accommodate the food preferences of my ginormous — and sometimes picky — family.
With that, here are the 10 items I always have in my freezer.
Salted butter, to be specific. We are a butter-loving family: We use it for slathering on toast, working into pie crust, or making into an herb-laden compound butter for topping grilled meats and fish. I buy the four-packs of butter at Costco or stock up when I see better prices at the grocery store. Butter freezes and thaws beautifully so it's a prime resident in my freezer. (And yes, I buy salted butter for everything. I know the rules to say bake with unsalted, but I break those rules because it's just easier to have one kind on hand. And the salted kind is the better-tasting kind.)
More on Butter
We may live by the sea, but fishmongers are rare in my neck of the woods and I don't know how to fish. Instead, I load up on bags of individually frozen fish fillets and steaks in three different varieties because everyone in my family has an opinion and few agree on the kind of fish we should eat. Having frozen fish on hand makes it super easy to serve fish for dinner once or twice a week. The individual pieces thaw super quickly, make a delicious, flavor-packed protein, and allow me to make three kinds of fish for a single meal without feeling like a short-order cook.
3. Shredded mozzarella
One of my big money-saving strategies is to make my own pizza each Friday night. I buy the large five-pound bags of shredded cheese at Costco and divvy it up into smaller bags to stash in the freezer. Come Friday morning, I pull a bag from the freezer and toss it in the fridge to thaw for dinnertime.
Likewise, pepperoni is a star player in my freezer and pizza-making regime. I wait for sales at my local grocery store and then buy about a dozen puff packs at a time. They patiently await pizza night in cold storage.
5. Day-old bread I buy on clearance
I love to bake my own bread, but sometimes time is precious. I regularly cruise my bakery's clearance rack, snatching up sourdough bread, sliced baguette, or artisan rolls. I toss them in the freezer until I need a quick something to fill the bread basket. These also pinch hit for French toast casseroles, croutons, garlic bread, and bread crumbs.
6. Homemade red sauce
I can't remember the last time I bought canned red sauce. It's just not something I do now that I can make quarts of my own sauce for about three bucks a batch. I simmer a large pot of sauce every few weeks and store it in quart jars in the freezer. I serve it on pasta, in casseroles, and on those Friday night pizzas.
In addition to red sauce: Get Saucy with Your Freezer: The Sauces I Freeze
7. Small containers of soup
When asked for their preferred soup, most in my family will reply, "chicken noodle." (Huzzah! Something they can almost agree on!) And while I make an amazing pot of chicken noodle soup, I want a little variety from time to time. Long ago, I decided I wasn't going to deprive myself of yummy things like roasted vegetable soup just because the rest of my family doesn't love it. I make a batch and divide it into lunch-sized portions for myself. I also stash small containers of homemade cream of chicken soup for cooking, so I can prepare healthier casseroles without the added junk found in canned cream soups.
More on Soups and the Freezer
8. Whole grains and flours
I prefer to cook and bake with whole grains and flours. These I order in bulk and stash in the freezer to preserve their shelf-life.
My youngest child still hasn't come to embrace crusts on her sandwiches. And while I've gotten a fair amount of flack from total strangers on the internet about this, I've decided it's not a hill to die on. Instead of fighting her on it or watching those bread crusts go in the trash half-eaten, I've taught her to cut them off before she makes her sandwich. She builds a little stash of these in the freezer for me to make into homemade bread crumbs. It's a win-win.
10. Ice cream
Every mother needs a stash of ice cream in her freezer — preferably a secret stash of her favorite flavors that she can eat alone, even if she must hide in the garage to do so. Ahem. What I mean is, the freezer is a great place to build a small stockpile of ice cream that you buy on sale. Then you always have a quart of your favorite when the craving hits. Yeah, that's what I meant.
Pick your pint: 25 Creative People Share Their Favorite Pints of Ice Cream
So, I've shared what's in my freezer. What's in yours?