It’s time for a Pantry Raid and a Pantry Party as we all spend more time cooking at home!

So, what’s in your fridge, pantry, and freezer can be the makings of a recipe that’s terrifically tasty and easy to make.  But, what should you have on hand? Sure, rice and beans are a good start but how about frozen peaches and ultra-pasteurized milk?

Here’s a quick guide to the basics of stocking up to be prepared to whip up a meal when you’re busy or when you can’t get to the store. One of the best resources I’ve found for pantry inspiration and wonderfully healthy recipes is Oldways, a non-profit food and nutrition organization based in Boston. Visit their website and download a free booklet on planning your pantry. Let’s start with the deep freeze.

Freezing is Nature’s Pause Button

Freezing foods, I like to say, is like applying nature’s pause button. You literally put the nutrients on hold when you freeze vegetables and fruits for instance. Some foods freeze better than others. And while frozen green beans are really nothing like their fresh counterparts, when you cook them added to a big pot of vegetable soup or in that famous green bean casserole they are a welcome addition to the table.

Freezer- some tips on what to “keep on ice”!

  • Ground beef, ground turkey, or Italian sausage (Wrap in small packages or freezer bags for the amount you might need for the number of folks at a typical meal)
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (buy the IQF “Individually Quick Frozen”)
  • Fish and Shrimp ( they freeze beautifully and you’ll have a seafood meal in no time)
  • Bread: baguette or sandwich bread ( Bread freezes really nicely)
  • Vegetables: peas, chopped spinach, green beans, corn ( the list is endless!)
  • Fruit: berries, peaches or mangos (frozen fruit is great for smoothies or as a base for a delicious savory sauce for chicken, meats or fish..such as a mango puree with sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, garlic and red pepper flakes for an Asian inspired sauce)
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts or pecans (Because nuts are high in healthy fats they can go rancid quite quickly, so freezing them is best for storage)
  • Dough: pizza, pie or puff pastry (Just add a creative whim and you’re ready!)
  • Vanilla ice cream ( Ha!!! or sorbet, or any flavor you like!)
  • Baked goods ( Well, everyone seems to be baking now! Make too many banana nut muffins? Freeze them in resealable freezer plastic bags)

What doesn’t freeze well?

Thank you to The Kitchn for this terrific write up which I’m sharing with y’all here.
“If you’re freezing a raw food with high moisture content (think cucumbers, watermelon, oranges) you intend on eating raw again, forget about it. The moisture that keeps the food crisp and intact doesn’t behave the same way after thawing. Think of putting a defrosted tomato on top of your salad — yuck!

Beware of anything creamy. Custards, blocks of cheese, mayo, yogurt —all of these dairy products freeze horribly. The curds separate from the whey and instead of the creamy dish of yogurt you put in the freezer, you’ll find a dish of separated strangeness.”

From me:

The reason ice cream stays so wonderfully well wonderful in the freezer is because of the sugar content. Who knew sugar was such a hero? It plays many food science hero roles in cooking.

I found a great way to celebrate the Freezer, the strawberry, and the plastic bag! Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream you make in a bag!