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In the freezer isle, quick meals...

I was wondering what product items are a great staple to have from the freezer isle. More specifically, which frozen products do you tend to always have for a quick and easy meal?

I was looking into getting some frozen dinner meals at hand, at times when I don't feel like making a meal. Are there any good brands for frozen waffles as well? I was able to get a few coupon for a dollar off for Nature's Path products, so I was thinking of using them for delicious waffles as I have a lot of maple syrup at home since I drizzle my oatmeal in it.

Are there are also good brands for meats? I've noticed that President's Choice has frozen angus burgers that sound ever so tasty! I know this topic seems broad. But my freezer is bare to the bones. We only have corn, peas, and ice cubes - I ate all the McCain fries already.

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  1. I really only keep meat and frozen veggies in mine. Occasionally, I'll make so much of something, I know we can't possibly eat it all that week, so I'll freeze the leftovers.

    We do keep Hebrew National hotdogs in there for "emergencies".

    1. I'm not sure about the meats, but I usually have a bag of frozen ravioli and a box of frozen garlic bread in the freezer for a good, cheap, easy meal. I also usually try to keep some frozen spinach on hand for stuffing chix breasts and using for creamed spinach, dip, etc. Frozen pizza never hurts, either, esp. in a pinch. I'm not brand loyal. I will most likely buy what's on sale unless I know I hate it

      1 Reply
      1. re: diablo

        Oh, frozen garlic bread sounds like a great idea!

      2. In terms of President's Choice products for the odd night we don't have time to cook we like their Blue Menu chicken meatballs, we sometimes get the blue menu stuffed chicken breasts, the spinach & ricotta is my fave. Their Roasted Vegetable Lasagna is pretty good too. The kids like the PC mini chef chicken burgers and hamburgers (both of which are the right size for me). Natures Path just took over the other brand (who's name escapes me) of organic waffles Superstore sells... we like any that don't have spelt (kids won't touch it) These days though I make my own and freeze them in pairs in ziploc bags... something you can do on the weekend just by doubling the batch you make for breakfast/brunch. I also like the Stahlbush line of frozen veggies and fruit Superstore carries in their "Natural" aisle...and the Europe's Best branch they carry I use to make blueberry muffins quite often - Europe's Best fruit is in the same freezer as the juice concentrates though.

        In keeping with the fact that this is the Home Cooking Board - one easy weeknight dinner(assuming dinner for two) straight from the freezer/pantry is:

        2 servings pasta, cooked however you like it (I always make extra for lunches but I'm cooking for 5)
        1/2 jar of your fave pasta sauce. I like PCs Organics line...
        1 dozen chicken meatballs (believe it or not they do best in the microwave)

        ~ to fancy it up and make sure you get your veggies make a salad with baby spinach or romaine, and whatever add-ins and dressing you like (I make the salad while the water boils & pasta cooks) and dinner is on the table in maybe 15 minutes.

        Hope that helps :)

        1. i keep tandoori nan from our indian store and garlic nan from trader joe's. also stuffed flatbread - aloo parathas. in a pinch makes a decent meal with a yoghurt raita. also chicken jalapeno sausage from trader joes again and frozen spring rolls from costco.

          1. I usually keep Trader Joe's frozen roasted corn and frozen veggie potstickers in the freezer. I heat up some of their Soy/Ginger broth, add the corn and potstickers and call it dinner.
            I also stock up on their frozen oatmeal for snacks or breakfast.
            Since I'm a household of one, I usally stock the freezer with soups, chilis and stews that I make so that I have a variety of things to chose from.
            Also...there are many resources online for Once a Month Cooking where you spend a day stocking up your freezer with homemade meals to reheat later.

            3 Replies
            1. re: CeeBee

              Never heard of Once a Month Cooking - that sounds great. I'm actually looking into that right now with the help of Google. Thanks for sharing!

              Wikipedia is breaking it down to:
              * Saved food resources. Buying what is needed and preparing it into a finished dish right away rather than losing track of it or losing it to spoilage
              * Saved energy. Cooking several dishes at once means less pre-heat time and better use of the energy that is being consumed
              * Saved money. Having a ready supply of finished meals makes it less tempting to eat out because "you're just too tired to cook"

              Frozen oatmeal? Thanks!

              1. re: shdiep

                Recipezaar also had some great OAMC info. One kind soul has even listed her step by step instructions for the whole weekend that she does the cooking:

                Trader Joes frozen oatmeal is one of my favorite things! When you reheat it, you get oatmeal that tastes alot more like slow cooked oatmeal than the mush that is instant. It's got a great taste and the texture is wonderful. There's still a bite to the oats.

              2. re: CeeBee

                I'll second the potstickers. I usually buy them at Costco or Whole Foods. I like the Ling Ling chicken and vegetable. I toss their dipping sauce and make my own with season rice vinegar, a touch of soy, sliced scallions, lots of pickled ginger and a dash of toasted sesame oil.

                I prep them in peanut oil and enjoy them crispy on one side-- pillowey on the other.

              3. I buy bags of meatballs from Costco, they're already cooked and heat up fast in sauce. Makes a fast, filling meal with some pasta and sauce. As someone else said, raviolis, or tortellini are nice. I also keep seafood. Shrimp, fish fillets (not breaded, don't much care for breaded fish). I buy them in single frozen portions, also at Costco. I usually have cod and tilapia on hand. I genuinely like mock crab. So when that's on sale, I buy some and tuck it away in the freezer for when I'm feeling like a simple seafood salad. Also, MOST of my freezer space is taken up by meat that's been on sale. I try avoid spending much on meat and I stock up on cuts that are on sale. Like when turkey is cheap around thanksgiving, I buy three (I have two freezers). In March, when corned beef is cheap, I buy five or six of those. Corned beef in a pressure cooker is surprisingly fast (not great, but fast). :)

                Right now we're "eating down" our freezers in order to make room for a side of beef that I'm buying from a local farm that grass-feeds their beef (they'll actually deliver the meat at no extra charge because they deliver to a food co-op in the city where my husband works). They're going to let me specify the cuts I get, and I'm paying $3/lb for the whole thing, so while that means more expensive cheap cuts, I'll actually be saving more on the expensive cuts (I'm going to insist on a whole tenderloin, for example). And I'm gonna get me some oxtails and shin bones, and try roasted marrow. :) I need to do some research on what a side of beef normally produces so I can be sure I get all the bits I want. :) Standing rib roast YAY! ;D

                3 Replies
                1. re: Morganna

                  Thanks for the information.

                  I don't have a Costco membership, but my parents do back home. So, I might make a trip to Costco then. However, I might just contact Costco to see if they have trial memberships or something. That way, I would just do the shopping at once. I do love buying in bulk, and Costco has a ton of selections in terms of freezer essentials. Thanks for the heads up on everything - especially the sale of Turkey during Thanksgiving!

                  1. re: shdiep

                    you can ask your parents to get you a gift card which also works as a membership card, so you can try it out and then if you like it you can decide to buy a membership.

                    1. re: beany

                      Wow, thanks for the suggestion. I actually might do that.

                      I had inquired about any trial memberships, and they don't offer any.

                2. My husband originally made this for a surprise dinner, but we've continued to play around with the idea. I know there have been a couple of threads about it, but the gist of the soup is this:

                  chicken stock
                  a can of diced tomatoes
                  frozen cheese tortellini
                  frozen spinach
                  red pepper flakes

                  Two bags in the freezer and a couple of cans, and you've got dinner.
                  We also like to add hot italian sausage and/or white beans, which I also cook in big batches and freeze.

                  I'd also echo the Trader Joe's recommendations if you're at all near one. While they can be hit or miss, I think it's worth trying some things if you really want some ready-made choices.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: kshrimp

                    Trader Joes has the best flash frozen shrimp in the world. I actually prefer them to fresh. Make sure you get the ones without shells. I always have a bag in the freezer for those shrimp and pasta last minute dishes.

                    1. re: SSqwerty

                      I am not near a TJ or even Whole Foods, and I am missing out on a lot!

                      But thanks for your replies!

                      1. re: shdiep

                        If you ever travel near a TJs, bring a cooler and ice packs and stock up for home (Whole Foods is a completely different animal-yummy food, but much, much more expensive than TJs). Their gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce is fabulous, as are their little mushroom turnovers, their frozen regular and chocolate croissants.

                        We always have some edamame in the freezer. Whole pods for when we have people over-fast, cheap appetizer, and kids love it, too. Shelled beans to add to pasta sauce or salads. Our favorite pasta sauce here is "beans and noodles"...edamame and onions and chopped ham and cream...

                        1. re: girlwonder88

                          Oh, I have been meaning to try edamame. Would you like to give me a quick rundown as to what I should expect in terms of flavor? Looks like a pea? Tastes like a pea? Or is it completely different?

                          1. re: shdiep

                            Not girlwonder88, but edamame is bigger than a pea. I still use it in fried rice and stir fries like I would peas, though. It has a creamier texture. I like to use it instead of chickpeas in hummous! Or they are great plan with sea salt.

                            1. re: IndyGirl

                              Hum, I might just try it! Thanks for the information.

                              I always see it in the freezer section and never really had any ideas as to whether or not I should actually get it. Thanks!

                        2. re: shdiep

                          I'm not near a TJ or WF. But here's what I stock: Emeril's wild caught shrimp from the USA. Not bad.
                          They're the only USA non-farmed raised shrimp I've found in my supermarkets' freezer.
                          BTW, the supposed "fresh shrimp" in the fish case is generally just defrosted from the frozen supply they keep. Shrimp defrosts in 10 mins under running water.

                    2. Whenever I make lasagna I make an extra one to freeze. Same with eggplant parm. I also made a fabulous polenta-kale-feta lasagna and have stashed that in the freezer as well.

                      whenever I make soup, I triple the batch and freeze it in freezer bags.

                      I know this is more like OAMC, but it isn't that hard to make extra of lasagna and these other things I have mentioned.

                      Aside from that, I keep frozen egg rolls, potstickers, ravioli, stuffed shells, gnocchi and garlic bread in the freezer.

                      I also make huge batches of pesto in the summer with my own basil and freeze that in ice-cube trays and then emtpy the trays into gallon-sized freezer bags. Add a few cubes to some frozen gnocchi and you have a fabulous dinner that tastes like summer in the middle of February.

                      Frozen pizza dough balls--can buy or make these homemade.

                      I also freeze roasted garlic the same way. Also lemon, lime and orange juice to use for baking and salad dressings and so forth (I never seem to have citrus fruits on hand when I need them).

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: IndyGirl

                        Potstickers! Good idea there! I absolutely love those!
                        Great ideas there as well, thanks so much!

                        1. re: shdiep

                          Thanks! The frozen lasagna, eggplant parm, etc works really well if you thaw it the night before in the fridge.

                          I also make Mjadra (mujadarra)--middle eastern lentils, onions and rice and freeze it. Awesome healthy dinner and soooo flavorful with some greek Fage yogurt and pita.

                          1. re: IndyGirl

                            I have never heard of Mjadra! That sounds delicious! I might try that actually, seeing that I am in a hype right now to try new things so that when its Thanksgiving, I have something to contribute!

                            Speaking about Fage yogurt, we don't have any in Canada, which is so disappointing. It has a lot of protein in one serving! I am trying to find something similar to that in Canada, but I have no luck so far!

                            1. re: shdiep

                              Here's my recipe for Mjadra.

                              I add some cayenne and lots more garlic than called for. Also, be aware that you can never have enough caramelized onions to top this dish with.

                              I use Lundberg brown rice so I add the brown rice at the very beginning as well.

                              Anyway, this does freeze very well.

                              1. re: IndyGirl


                                Thanks so much for the recipe! You sure are helpful! I'm a big fan of garlic, so I will definitely take your advice! Thanks again!

                          2. re: shdiep

                            The frozen potstickers from TJs are great in chicken broth as sort of a wonton soup thing. Toss in some chives or green onions you have conveniently chopped and frozen earlier and you are all set.

                        2. Frozen ravioli or tortellini (keep a jar of pasta sauce on hand). Frozen "steak fries" to go with a cheese omelet. Marie Callender chicken pie. Pork tenderloin, which can be thawed in the microwave, sliced, and sauteed in a couple of minutes. The new Birdseye steamer packages of rice. If you have a Trader Joe's, the flounder stuffed with crabmeat. But don't just rely on commercially frozen stuff---when you do cook, freeze your leftovers, for instance slice the rest of the meat and freeze it in the rest of the gravy. Also, if you eat at a Chinese restaurant bring home even a small amount of leftover food---add to canned chicken broth---include some of the rice---season with soy sauce and sherry---to make a substantial fake Chinese soup.

                          1. I generally only get frozen vegies from the frozen food isle. At the moment all I've got is a packet of frozen peas and some stir fry vegies (I know it is shocking that I buy frozen, stir fry vegies and they are not the same but buying decent fresh vegies is hard work here and I don't have green thumbs). I keep single portions of soup in the freezer that I make up in a big batch and freeze left overs when I have them. Since I only cook for myself I find that easier than buying frozen dinners - and for some reason I am always hungry after I've eaten a frozen dinner.

                            1. Frozen veggies (corn, peas, mixed vegetables medley, etc.)
                              Frozen chicken breasts
                              Frozen homemade chicken stock

                              Mix all three and voila, homemade chicken vegetable soup.

                              And, I always have some ice cream or gelato handy in the freezer.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                My frozen staples:

                                Ravioli, linguini etc
                                Ground Turkey (thaws easily for chili, spaghetti or tacos)
                                Corn, peas, green beans
                                Chicken breast
                                Homemade chicken stock

                              2. Frozen items I admittedly purchase:
                                -Bagel Bites
                                -Lean cuisine dishes
                                -Potato and cheese pierogies
                                -Kashi dishes

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Chew on That

                                  yup, I just bought some pierogies today. :)

                                  I also keep english muffins in the freezer.

                                2. Preface - I'm not a purist these days because I have two small kids and a hubby who works out of town most of the time, so I am comfortable with some frozen foods that others might not be overjoyed at, so:

                                  I am completely infatuated with two frozen foods - spanakopita (brand is Johnathan B's I think) and vegetable samosas (brand is Bombay something). I live in small-town Texas and the thought of a Greek or Indian restaurant here is laughable, so I gotta take it however I can get it. :)

                                  With either of the above, I can throw together some cukes and tomatoes and use sour cream on the side, and I'm in heaven.

                                  Also from the freezer aisle, I love frozen spinach sauteed almost to caramelization in olive oil, with some lemon juice, salt, pepper, and occasionally some jarred julienned sundried tomatoes and feta. It's very lush and rich and filling. I do something similar with frozen extra-thin green beans, sauteed in olive oil and splashed with balsamic vinegar right before I turn off the heat. I love my veggies caramelized for some reason so I cook the green beans hard and fast and let them actually brown somewhat, but that is just my personal oddity, I know.

                                  We've had some new frozen vegetable options at the grocery store that I've been eyeing lately but haven't tried - one is frozen balsamic-glazed roasted root vegetables, and another is some chopped sauteed wild mushrooms in some sort of cream sauce. I know I will eventually try them, just hate to spend the money on them for some reason.

                                  1. Bagged frozen artichokes for pizza and pasta dishes with those frozen shrimp. I love those pot stickers too and I drizzle on a little Soy Vey over rice and some of the frozen edaname.

                                    1. Lots of frozen vegetables! You can use them in omelets, stir-fries, and pasta dishes. SO easy. My new favorite is frozen onions. I always buy a whole onion, don't use it in time, and it goes bad. These are a freaking godsend.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Al_Pal

                                        Frozen vegetables!

                                        I am not a big fan of onions, so I think I'll pass on them. But definitely will do the frozen vegetables in omelets. I usually just use cheese on hand when I have it for omelets, and so vegetables will be a great addition to it! As silly as this sound, you can obviously tell I am new to cooking!

                                      2. My Publix market (Florida) featured Phillips Maryland style crab cakes this weekend- with fresh samples, yadayada. I bought 2 thawed packages , each with 2 three ounce cakes, and scarfed them down Fri. & Sat. with smooth sauces. Regular price $8 for the two, on sale for $5.
                                        I returned today and bought 21 frozen boxes, all they had. They are good!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          I've actually never had crab cakes before! Definitely will look out for them when I am in the freezer section now. I like imitation crab if that counts? It must sound like a sin.