When figuring out what to eat, we usually take a peek in the fridge and leave it that, sometimes forgetting that we also have a freezer. However, there are certain foods you should always keep in your freezer, not just because they'll last longer, but because they are great healthy and convenient options to keep on hand. Buying fresh food is great too, of course but utilizing your freezer can help you eat healthy and cook at home for cheap, and it's a useful way to cut down on food waste as well, especially since you can store certain foods long-term.
"I believe in keeping a significant supply of vegetables in the freezer, and some fruits that go in and out of season quickly," says Jackie Keller, founder of Nutrifit, over email. "This way, there is always something plant-based and nutritious to add to a meal."
Foods kept in the freezer can last much longer than in the refrigerator; many items can even last six to 12 months, according to RealSimple. If you need some ideas of what to keep stocked up in your kitchen, try keeping these 10 foods in your freezer so you always have something healthy on hand.
1. Frozen Vegetables
It's not uncommon to buy a bag of broccoli, only to find that it has gone bad before you've gotten a chance to use all of it. Avoid this by buying frozen vegetables instead. "Frozen veggies are often very nutritious because they are harvested when they are truly ripe, and then blanched and frozen," says Ken Immer, CCHE, president of Culinary Health Solutions over email. "It takes a lot longer for them to spoil, so you have less waste."
2. Frozen Berries
"Organic berries are so much more affordable frozen, and if you're just popping them in a smoothie anyway, who cares if they're frozen," says holistic health and wellness coach Samantha Elkrief over email. "Plus, berries really only taste good when they're in season, so getting them frozen is great for your wallet and your taste buds."
Soups and stews are good to keep in your freezer for a day you're feeling sick or just need a quick comforting dinner on the fly. "They freeze so well, and it's easy to make a large batch of them and freeze some for later," says Elkrie. "It's a godsend for weeks where you know you won't be able to cook as much as you like."
4. Fresh Herbs
Need to add some quick flavor to a dish? Just whip out those herbs you've got preserved in the freezer! "Almost any cooking herb has some type of health benefit that can be linked to a prolonged life," says Alon Popilskis of Local Taste Blog. "A great and easy way to store them in the freezer is to use an ice tray, fill with some oil, and then put some herb inside.
5. Frozen Bananas
In addition to berries and other fruits, it can be usual to keep frozen bananas in your freezer as well. "Not only do they make smoothies better, but they also make a great snack on their own," says Jenna Schreck of No Whey Lady over email. "You can dip it in chocolate, almond butter, etc. and cover with all your favorite goodies, like goji berries or cacao nibs."
"Keep a lemon, orange, and lime in the freezer," says Immer. "When recipes call for citrus zest, you’ll always have a fruit handy, plus it’s super easy to grate when it’s frozen. Also, a frozen lemon can help in a pinch when you’re sick and need a lemon tea but no fresh lemon, just add it to the boiling water, and it will thaw quickly."
7. Pasture-Raised Meats
When buying meat, we know it's best to buy free-range or grass-fed options, but it can get expensive. "The consumer is driving the ‘want’ for livestock that are allowed to roam free while thriving nutritionally on grass," says clinical nutritionist Stella Metsovas over email. "I have found that frozen pastured meat is almost 65 percent less in cost than fresh."
"Another fun thing to freeze on a cookie sheet and store in a re-closable bag is nuts that have been soaked in water, especially almonds," says Immer. "Frozen nuts make instant nut milk and can be added to smoothies made with water instead of dairy for a creamy effect. They can be tossed into stir-fries, and pureed and added to hummus or other spreads, or even added to cookie recipes to decrease the flour."
9. Frozen Seafood
Fresh seafood is ideal, but it can often break the bank; opt for frozen seafood instead. "Frozen seafood is a life saver because it's much more economical than fresh and it cooks quickly," says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN over email. "Shrimp, tilapia and salmon are my favorites."
See what foods you use most, and be sure to include extras in your grocery haul to keep frozen.