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What is needed to have a well stocked freezer?

I usually have some corned beef to make New England dinner in my crock pot. I have a pork roast or ribs to throw in the crock pot with bbk sauce or just garlic, s and p. I have chicken that I put in the crock pot with veggies and Italian dressing. Sometimes I have steaks. I usually have some frozen seafood like shrimp, mussels or fish fillets, but I am getting away from those because they get freezer burn too easily. I have bread, frozen spinach, corn, peas. I have frozen berries. I have assorted ice cream pints and novelties. Occasionally, I have frozen pizza or a pot pie. I have frozen leftovers like homemade stuffed cabbage and lasagna.

WHat do you consider "must have on hand" items for the freezer?

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  1. my constants:
    beef stock
    poultry stock
    bones for making stock
    a whole chicken
    grains and flours
    roasted green chile
    frozen corn

    1. pesto, assorted greens (kale, mustard, chard, beet tops, collards, etc), bread, beans (pre-cook & freeze), butter, chili peppers (everything from jalapenos to red savina), corn and other vegetables, various tomato sauces, tamales and ice cream.

      I'm always stuffing single-serving containers of leftovers into the freezer for easy lunches.

      1. Chicken broth, peas, corn, vanilla ice cream, old bread, leftover tomato or other sauce,nuts, chicken backs, onion, carrot bits etc to make broth. Nothing else is constant and I don't freeze "new" meat, always buy it fresh.

        1. I *always* have bread, bagels, croissants, blueberry whole wheat waffles, chicken stock, bacon, chopped herbs, broccoli, Alexia fries, ice cream.

          1. We have two deep freezes (had 3 but one quit on us). Right now we are letting ours get really low and digging out things that have been buried for too long and need to be disposed of. We usually have our own veggies as the primary item. And we've bought a hog a couple of times.

            1. Large ziplocks full of frozen berries from Costco. (Don't pack the ziplocks too full, and spread the bags out horizontally in the freezer. This way, you can remove a handful of frozen berries at a time. If you place them in the freezer zip-side up, you have to defrost them all at once.)

              2 Replies
              1. re: woodleyparkhound

                Oh, I get it, snap of a section of berry clump rather than fighting a giant clump with a knife and wind up at the ER like a friend of mine did with hamburger meat!


                I haven't frozen berries yet. My raspberries take up tons of my yard but are wild and don't produce enough to freeze. Our friends have invited us to go berry collecting with them (choke cherries, currants and raspberries) so I'll remember this technique.


                1. re: MinkeyMonkey

                  even easier -- spread the fresh berries on a cookie sheet (single layer) and freeze.

                  THEN put them into a ziploc - then you can scoop out exactly what you need for today.

              2. Roasted green chile
                A few frozen pizzas when they are on super sale
                Ravioli from the Italian market down the street.
                Smoked Chicken halves (freeze beautifully when vacuum sealed)
                Boneless skinless chicken thighs

                Whatever steaks went on sale for an insane price that I bought 30 lbs of. I have an atrocious amount of boneless restaurant cut top sirloins - choice grade, 1.5 in thick - 2.99 lb. HAD TO STOCK UP.

                I generally let the sales dictate what stocks my freezer. I love finding the short dated items that are clearanced out.

                1. I was reading this thread and thought of the rolling stones song Mother’s Little Helper.

                  Things are different today
                  I hear every mother say
                  Cooking fresh food for my husband just a drag
                  So she buys an instant cake and she buys a frozen steak
                  And goes running for the shelter of her mothers little helper
                  And to helper her on her way get her through her busy day.

                  1. I also have most of what has been already posted. My goal is to have enough in there to be able to make a great dinner, really quickly, without having to ever "run to the store" for that *one* missing item. I also have things packaged in small quantities (for 2).

                    So, I have plenty of bread products, veggies, sauces, meats, grains, beans, herbs, spice mixes and many items that I spend time creating on weekends (duxelle's, chili sauce, salsa verde, BBQ sauce)......... and a few processed items like burrito's, ice cream, hash browns.

                    1. In my house...
                      Ice Cream. This is non-negotiable.
                      Meat/chicken/sausage for at least 5 dinners. I don't have a huge freezer so I don't stock up too much, but I always try to have a variety of options.
                      Steamer bags of frozen veggies--quick and easy on a weeknight
                      Golden's cheese blintzes, these are a great late night snack
                      Frozen wontons, either homemade or from the Chinese market
                      Stouffer's mac and cheese and tater tots... for emergency comfort food

                        1. re: applehome

                          *dang* I was going to say electricty. Beat me to it.

                            1. re: applehome

                              That's the best thing to have. During the ice storm that clobbered our house, I wasn't concerned about the food since it was below zero most of the time. But after one of the tornadoes, we had packed things in ice and not opened the freezers and were on the verge of losing things before the power came back.

                            2. In addition to whatever proteins were on sale and needed to be stashed (I almost always have ground beef, chicken breast, and steak):

                              Curry paste-I buy whole cans and freeze the leftovers
                              Chipotles in adobe-see above

                              Homemade broth/stock
                              Scraps for homemade broth/stock
                              Beans-I prefer dried to canned, so whenever I need a particular kind of bean and am out of it in the freezer, I cook a full pound and freeze in can-sized portions for easy use in recipes
                              Frozen peas
                              Frozen okra-not a huge fan personally but my husband loves it

                              1. Homemade red sauce, and eggplant red pepper sauce
                                english muffins
                                chili, soups and stews * I freeze in quarts, perfect size for us)
                                chicken wing tips (I save them for stock)
                                crushed tomatoes from last summer
                                150 calorie ice cream sandwiches

                                1. Well, it depends on how much freezer space I have.

                                  With ample space, it's

                                  Raw Ingredients:

                                  various broths and stocks (chicken, pork, beef, veggie, bean)
                                  vegetables (corn, peas, beans, edamame, spinach)
                                  various cuts of chicken, beef, pork and lamb
                                  juice concentrates
                                  a bag of mixed seafood
                                  various cooked beans, lentils and chickpeas

                                  Pre-prepared stuff

                                  Spaghetti sauce
                                  Stews that freeze well
                                  Pureed vegetables for soup
                                  Roasted red peppers
                                  Pesto (minus the cheese)
                                  Dumplings, perogies and/or ravioli
                                  Ice cream bars
                                  berbere sauce and thai curry paste
                                  pre-cooked chicken breasts and beef shanks

                                  Plus my stash of meat bits and tomato skins being saved for stock, and random baggies of reserved fat.

                                  1. I feel a bit ashamed because my frozen stuff doesn't sound as fancy as most of you. Did someone discuss freezer size and how often you grocery shop? Right now, we have two deep freezes, and three fridges. Well, my niece has her own huge fridge in the little house she lives in here with us.We mostly fill them with our home grown produce, extra bread and buns( in the summer I always try to have burgers and buns ready) and meat. Sometimes we buy a hog, other times we hit the local grocery when they half-price the meat. We do pick up groceries,fresh items and milk. but mostly we can cook and eat for a while on what we have at hand. Got another 50 lbs. of potatoes today. I used to buy potatoes in 100 lb. bags but not seen that offered for years. Just recently our local grocery has been selling 50 lbs. of potatoes for $9.99.Not going to pass that up. If my son was still with us, I would have bought twice that.

                                      1. re: hill food

                                        Okay, I admit, I do keep extra ice in the freezer. I have these star shaped ice trays that I love so I keep extra bags on hand.Vodka tonics need lots of ice and I eat most of the ice out of them.

                                      2. I have a small city apartment so my freezer is also pretty small right now. I'm not as stocked up as I would like to be. I have:

                                        Chicken bones and trimmings for stock
                                        At least one whole chicken
                                        At least one whole pork shoulder
                                        At least one rack of spare ribs
                                        Steaks or other expensive meats bought on sale
                                        Parboiled potatoes for hash browns
                                        Totino's Party pizzas - the premium $1 meal

                                        A related question: is it good to keep spices in the freezer? Will this preserve their flavor longer?

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                          wow RMJ you are good at space planning. I'd skip stowing the spices there, my bet is you're just asking for rehydration/ice crystal formation and that's valuable real estate, I'd just buy in smaller amounts if it's something you're not going to use by the boatload. hey it's already dessicated what is gone happen other than get damp or turn into dust (and if it's sitting around that long I doubt there's much that would preserve it)

                                          1. re: hill food

                                            Thanks, that makes sense. Would you say the same for spices in the refridgerator?

                                            1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                              yeah but just cause I don't see the point, Mom does that with paprika (paprika?) but she's worried about bugs. yet all the likely greeny ones get a pass. I say screw it and let 'em be dry and warm and just use them - USE THEM (granted there are things older than me in her cabinet) although I do suppose there are some odd things out there, I'd guess the basics really don't need anything special unless they're fresh.

                                              dang, just re-read my last response I have done gone all hillbilly shee-it. I was once erudite and learned.

                                        2. I live in a shared house - 4 adults, 1 average sized fridge with a 3-drawer freezer at the bottom. Not a lot of storage space, but I take up most of one of the drawers. What I have now:

                                          Chricken breasts
                                          Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Yoghurt
                                          Four cheese ravioli
                                          Shu mai dumplings

                                          If I had space I'd like to always have a couple of litres of stock, a lot of ice, a bottle of Finlandia, some ice blocks (popsicles), frozen berries for smoothies and tipsy berry desserts, lemon juice frozen in cubes, a couple of pizzas, a roasting joint, some of the amazing enchiladas I made last year and havn't been able to replicate since, sweetcorn, breadcrumbs and herbs.

                                          1. Barley, Spelt berries, fish fillets, whole chicken, bone in chicken thighs, bag thighs, wings, bag shrimp, cut and packaged beef tender loin, hot dogs, pork ring sausage, pork short ribs, pork loin, Hatch chilis, corned beef brisket and at least one duck.

                                            1. old bread - for crumbs or bread pudding
                                              homemade veggie stock - in yogurt containers - perfect amount for risotto or soup
                                              vegetable trimmings for future stocks
                                              flax seeds
                                              frozen fruit (for smoothies)
                                              frozen yogurt
                                              homemade ginger/garlic paste
                                              homemade cookie dough
                                              lots of ice - for the bourbon

                                              right now i also have some bean soup and some lentil burgers that i made and froze.

                                              we live in the city and don't have room for a deep freezer. i try not to imagine all the things i'd keep frozen on hand if i did!

                                              1. butter
                                                various types of fish fillets
                                                stock (chicken and/or beef)
                                                frozen peas and corn
                                                bacon (frozen by portion size)
                                                pine nuts
                                                ground meat


                                                1. I stock up based on what's on sale, but generally, frozen vegetables, butter (when on sale I stock up), meats on sale, and a recent addition: pre made empanada dough. I'm not very skilled at making pastry, but even if I were, these are a lifesaver for using up leftovers. Just take whatever meat, potato, veg scraps, etc., season, stuff in an ampanada shell and bake. Homemade hot pockets.