Why my freezer is my best friend

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Cameron Rogers (@FreckledFoodie) is an In The Know Cooking contributor. Follow her on Instagram and check out her website for more.

The freezer gets a bad rap. For majority of my childhood, it was associated with frozen TV dinners or leftovers that were never as good as the initial meal. Other than ice cream, it is safe to say I dreaded most things my mom pulled out of the freezer. But I’m here to change that narrative.

As I’ve gotten more comfortable in the kitchen over the years, my freezer has truly become my best friend. I always stock my freezer with the essentials for everyday cooking and leftovers for the nights where I have officially reached the stage of hangry, need dinner ASAP and don’t have anything left in my fridge. We’ve all had those times when even the thought of waiting for a Seamless order is simply too long. That’s where my freezer comes into play.

So, what is in my freezer? Let me give you the lowdown.

First and foremost, ice cream. I mean, come on, you had to know I was going there! After all, ice cream is my favorite food. Alongside my ice cream stash are my frozen vegetables and fruits. I always have frozen fruits like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and bananas on hand for mornings or afternoons when I’m craving a smoothie, and frozen vegetables like spinach, peas, corn and peppers to revamp any dish that needs some extra color when my fridge is bare.

Next to my frozen fruits and vegetables is probably the oddest thing in my apartment: my frozen scrap bag. This large bag houses all sorts of vegetable scraps and chicken bones. I know, it sounds really freaking weird, but hear me out! As I cook meals throughout the week, I save all of the leftover vegetable scraps (think stems, leaves, odds and ends, etc.) and all of the bones from any chicken I’ve eaten, tossing them into this “scrap bag.” Once the bag is full, I can repurpose it and make homemade bone broth. Weird? Absolutely. Amazingly delicious, resourceful and environmentally friendly? You bet.

Now, let’s get into the leftovers that fill the majority of my freezer. I’m someone that is a huge proponent of saving leftovers to have on-hand for the days where cooking just feels like the hardest task imaginable. Because, trust me, those days happen. Whenever I cook for my husband and I throughout the week, I cook as if there are four of us. For the most part, we are eating dinner leftovers for lunch the next day. But if that dish is one that freezes well, I’m usually packing it into a mason jar and storing in my freezer for another night. Not all meals are equipped for this. But whenever I am making any type of soup, stew, sauce or dish along those lines, I’m always freezing leftovers. That way, when those lazy nights roll around and I’m looking to save money, I know I can easily grab something from the freezer, reheat it and enjoy a home-cooked meal. If you need some inspiration, three things I always have in our freezer are my shredded chicken sweet potato chili, meat and veggie sauce and chicken vegetable and rice soup.

Along with leftovers, I also always have frozen baked goods in my freezer. The craving for a post lunch/dinner cookie or brownie is real, and I want to make sure I’m prepared. Plus, baked goods like banana breads or my banana berry muffins are a quick heat-and-go breakfast or afternoon snack.

Banana berry muffins. (Credit: @FreckledFoodie)

Since I am also trying to limit my grocery store trips as much as possible (If you live in NYC, you know the struggle of carrying home your groceries is real!), I also always have my favorite meats stocked in my freezer and ready to defrost. Think steaks, ground beef, salmon filets and chicken thighs.

Chicken, vegetable and rice soup. (Credit: @FreckledFoodie)

Of course, I prefer reheating my home cooked leftovers for an easy dinner option. But I also stock up on some of my favorite prepared frozen items for the nights where I want to change things up, like frozen pizzas, meatballs or, everyone’s favorite, the Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi. It’s something I always have bags of in our freezer, using weekly either tossed with some pesto sauce and grape tomatoes or my staple meat sauce.

As you can tell, it’s safe to say that my freezer is typically overflowing with options. It’s my cooking safety net that I’m constantly falling back on. Loaded with leftovers, staples and frozen goods. There is always something in there to make for any meal of the day!

If you enjoyed this article, check out @FreckledFoodie’s must-have kitchen appliances!

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