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As a chef, new dad, and recipe developer, I’m very familiar with the challenge of whipping up meals on the fly. I’ve picked up tips, learned techniques, and acquired gadgets along the way, but the surest bet you’ll find in my kitchen is a well-stocked freezer. With the frozen food aisle loaded with more than 3,700 different, tasty foods ranging from nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables to decadent ice creams and novelties, the middle aisle is where I spend a good portion of my grocery shopping time.
About 30 percent of people consider themselves “repeat offenders” when it comes to making dinner—most usually cooking the same thing night after night. So in light of March Frozen Food Month, I’m here to reveal some essential frozen foods that will enable you to make a delicious meal that you will be proud to serve your family, that will help to save time in the kitchen, and that will bring creative and bold flavors to your dishes.
10 Frozen Food Essentials:
1. Mixed frozen berries: I absolutely love starting my day with a mixed berry yogurt smoothie. It’s simple, delicious and dang good for you. Simply blend together frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries with plain yogurt and honey until smooth. From there pour it into a glass and spoon in some of your favorite granola and you have the perfect breakfast on the go.
2. Puff pastry: There’s nothing like making turkey potpie from leftover holiday favorites—but now you don’t even have to take the time to make and roll out any dough. For the flakiest and most tender crust, simply top off your skillet or casserole dish full of potpie goodness with a sheet of puff pastry. Score the top with your knife and brush with egg wash for an amazing all-in-one meal.
3. Peas: I love putting peas in just about everything. Whether I am steaming them for my little girl or finishing off a Thai Curry Chicken soup, peas are a must-have in my house.
4. Chicken: If you are like me and always have a crammed refrigerator, switching to frozen chicken breasts can save space. But more importantly, they’re juicy and delicious when cooked. Slice and stir-fry with frozen vegetables or sauté and fold up in puff pastry with finely minced sautéed wild mushrooms and mustard for an amazing chicken Wellington that is sure to wow your family.
5. Shrimp: To break out of the norm, frozen shrimp is always a perfect alternative to chicken. Whether I am making a Vietnamese soup or looking to spice up an appetizer, I recommend using shrimp for an outstanding flavor, not-to-mention something a little different.
6. Phyllo dough: An absolute must-have when entertaining or looking to perfect the art of leftovers. From homemade crab Rangoon to making leftover coleslaw phyllo cups, nothing can add a little bit of elegance like phyllo dough.
7. Assorted vegetable blends: When I am looking to add some seasonal vegetables to a slow-cooker meal or a stir-fry, assorted vegetable blends are key to finishing off my dishes. Add an Asian blend of broccoli, edamame, and snow peas to a simple stir-fry or a sliced carrot and pea blend to finish off a chicken noodle soup; vegetable blends are a staple in this chef’s home.
8. Hash browns: If there is one thing my family has come to love on the weekends, it’s family breakfast, and let me tell you, with a one-year-old, they mean business and they want food now! I love to simply sear frozen hash browns in a little olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper and serve it as a side, or make it a main course by folding in some cooked crispy bacon or ham with bell peppers, onions, and scrambled eggs to make the ultimate breakfast hash.
9. Ice cream: I know, cliché, but nothing can satisfy the sweet tooth of a spouse like ice cream. Vanilla ice cream can be used in so many things like homemade shakes or root beer floats to the top of a homemade ice cream cake for a birthday party. If there is no ice cream in my freezer, it’s an immediate trip to the grocery store every time, no matter what the hour.
10. Assorted tortellini: If you are looking for a fast meal with a punch, look no further than frozen tortellini. You can get cheese-stuffed tortellini, mushroom-stuffed tortellini—you name it, they’ve got it. To go with a simple mushroom tortellini, reduce some cream until it becomes thick like Alfredo sauce, and simply finish with some chopped cooked bacon, Parmesan cheese, peas, and the boiled tortellini for insanely delicious pasta.
Remember, when it comes to cooking, you are only limited by your creativity, so get in the kitchen, roll up your sleeves and have some fun—you never know what masterpiece you may create next! For more simple, delicious recipe ideas, check out EasyHomeMeals.com.