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Best Frozen Foods


Dianabanana
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My entire refrigerator and freezer mysteriously died on Sunday, destroying most of the contents before I realized what was happening, then just as mysteriously came back to life Monday morning just before the repairman arrived. The bright side is that I was forced to jettison a lot of food that was never going to get eaten anyway, and then was shamed by my dirty fridge into cleaning it.

I am now the proud owner of a spotlessly clean and completely empty freezer drawer, and thought I would ask you all to hit me with your favorite frozen product recommendations before I go shopping tomorrow afternoon. I'm interested in pretty much anything you find useful to keep in a freezer, although I'm really not much of a consumer of prepared foods.

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The best, and most used items in my freezer are packages of frozen fruits and vegetables from Fresh and Easy. Their packages are very convenient sizes, and the quality so far has been consistently good.

The best out of the whole selection though has to be the bell pepper mix. It's a frozen bag of julienned red, yellow and green bell peppers. They last what seems like forever in the freezer, and have a wonderful (if muted) aroma when still frozen rock hard. And they are super sweet and thaw in under two minutes..

They also have peas, broccoli, a stir-fry mix (with beans, carrots, peppers, etc.) and green beans. The fruits include mango, pineapple, strawberries, bluberries and mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries and rasberries if I remember correctly).

So if you have a Fresh and Easy in your neighbourhood, I highly reccomend the frozen fruits and veggies. My whole top freezer drawer is full of them, and they're a lifesaver for impromptu meals and morning smoothies..

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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What Darienne said, and I always keep Trader Joe's frozen turkey meatballs on hand. A package of those with some jazzed-up jarred sauce over some kind of dried pasta (both always in the pantry), some freshly grated Parmesan (always in the refrigerator), some fresh-baked garlic bread (no knead dough always in the refrigerator, too), and a salad from the garden - that's our go-to "we forgot to plan anything for dinner" dinner, or when we come home late and are just too tired to really cook. It all goes together easily and it's good old comfort food in a jiffy. It's actually great for drop-in dinner guests, since I usually plan our dinners for just the two of us, and this goes a lot further; and if guests don't eat meat the meatballs can be cooked separately.

I do hope you had the repairman check your refrigerator out to make sure it won't die on you again.

Edited by Special K (log)
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I believe my freezer was almost all butter at one point, due to a sale on Lurpak....

Besides butter, most useful purchased freezer items for me are frozen peas (soup, pasta, fried rice or a side dish), frozen corn (toasted in salads, soup), frozen berries (ocassional smoothies, but usually pancake toppings or dessert puddings), tater tots/potato gems, puff pastry and wood fired pizza (last minute 'argh' meals). Also, I tend to buy meat from the supermarket when it's discounted for quick sale and stock the freezer with that (organic chicken is pricey, but it's a good deal when it's half price!).

I also make perogies and soup for the freezer, but that's really a different conversation.

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I've found the most useful things in the freezer are home-made stocks (usually chicken and beef) and various proteins. Since I get a CSA basket every week, I don't tend to keep many veggies in there (peas and corn are the two exceptions right now). For the proteins, individually flash-frozen prawns are great. I just started seasoning and vacuum sealing steaks, chicken, and pork for the freezer. You can throw them still frozen into the sous-vide bath and have the start of a great meal with very little effort.

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He couldn't see anything wrong with it and suggested it may have been that the ice maker bar got stuck in the down position.

All of the above are great ideas for stocking your freezer.

That being said, the icemaker bar being "stuck in the down position" would only assure that you would run out of ice at some point in time, no way it could shut down the entire refrigerator/freezer. He didn't see anything obvious wrong, so he gave you "Blah, blah, blah.", to make you happy.

If this was a warranty repair, I'd be calling the manufacturer. If you paid for it, ask to speak to the owner of the company.

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Due to making room for some baking projects, my freezer is currently pared down to basics - yeast, butter, various smoothie fruits, pandan, coconut milk, pizza dough, peas & carrots, spinach, shrimp, salmon, tuna, vodka, limoncello & bacon.

"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali
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Due to making room for some baking projects, my freezer is currently pared down to basics - yeast, butter, various smoothie fruits, pandan, coconut milk, pizza dough, peas & carrots, spinach, shrimp, salmon, tuna, vodka, limoncello & bacon.

Frozen coconut milk. Could you please explain how this is a basic in a freezer? Do you make it?

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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When I can work up a head of steam, I make vast amounts of broth/stock, and freeze that: always useful. Also useful are various meat-based tomato sauces (dinner in however long it takes to get the pasta cooked and heat the sauce), frozen corn and peas (the hold their original integrity on heating better than most other veg), and various largish batches of purees (at the moment I have hokkaido, red lentil, and quince).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Frozen coconut milk. Could you please explain how this is a basic in a freezer? Do you make it?

I prefer the frozen coconut milk I can get from the asian grocery stores to the canned. Of course, they are 2-3x more expensive than canned so I tend to save them for dishes which really highlight the coconut. I still keep plenty of cans around too. You can also freeze unused quantities of that for later rather than have them go off in the fridge. But I rarely do that... I mix it up with panela or other muscavado/brown sugar, apply a little heat and use as a dessert topping.

"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali
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For me, the essential freezer items are: coconut pulp (milk plus shredded meat) and other pulpi-paks, Andean blueberries, pre-measured mashed pumpkin, applesauce, shredded zucchini, guavas, white vegetable shortening, bananas, mangrove shrimp, pizza sauce, presliced chorizo and pepperoncini, bacon, and pizza dough.

I also tend to freeze most of the meat I buy.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Like others, I'm not a big user of prepared foods. That said, there's usually frozen blueberries, raspberries, sometimes mango chunks or halves in the freezer, as well as some vegetables like spinach, corn, peas, bell pepper pieces, and edamame and lima beans, sometimes green beans, and rarely, broccoli or cauliflower. Most of these are organic or pesticide-free items from Trader Joe.

I also keep cooked rice in the freezer. I'll make up a large batch of brown rice and put it in a large zip lock bag, layed out flat, and then just break off a chunk whenever it's needed. Rice freezes very well, and since it takes a while to make brown rice, it's very handy to have around.

And there's always room for leftovers ...

 ... Shel


 

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Frozen coconut milk. Could you please explain how this is a basic in a freezer? Do you make it?

I prefer the frozen coconut milk I can get from the asian grocery stores to the canned. Of course, they are 2-3x more expensive than canned so I tend to save them for dishes which really highlight the coconut. I still keep plenty of cans around too. You can also freeze unused quantities of that for later rather than have them go off in the fridge. But I rarely do that... I mix it up with panela or other muscavado/brown sugar, apply a little heat and use as a dessert topping.

Thanks natashal1270, I shall look for frozen coconut products next time I am in our local Asian grocery store.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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He couldn't see anything wrong with it and suggested it may have been that the ice maker bar got stuck in the down position.

All of the above are great ideas for stocking your freezer.

That being said, the icemaker bar being "stuck in the down position" would only assure that you would run out of ice at some point in time, no way it could shut down the entire refrigerator/freezer. He didn't see anything obvious wrong, so he gave you "Blah, blah, blah.", to make you happy.

If this was a warranty repair, I'd be calling the manufacturer. If you paid for it, ask to speak to the owner of the company.

I agree on this point, I can't see how a stuck bar on the icemaker could cause your whole fridge/freezer to take a dive like that. It struck me as a little odd when you first mentioned it, but I didn't think too much of it until Quiltguy mentioned it again here.. I'd definitely have it checked out a little more thoroughly.

Due to making room for some baking projects, my freezer is currently pared down to basics - yeast, butter, various smoothie fruits, pandan, coconut milk, pizza dough, peas & carrots, spinach, shrimp, salmon, tuna, vodka, limoncello & bacon.

Natasha, what kind of yeast are you freezing, and how do you package it? I'm assuming it's cake yeast or something like that and not the dry?

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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Okay, I'll call the other repair guy in town and ask him to take a look. It's running perfectly fine right now. After I got it all cleaned out, I turned the thermostats all the way down (to off) then back up again, it made a lot of noise, and it's been fine ever since.

Since we are peeking into one another's freezers, here's what I normally have in mine: Homemade raw dog food, edamame, lemongrass (hard to find here, so I bring it home from the big city and freeze), turmeric bulbs (ditto), galangal (ditto), lime leaves (ditto), curry leaves (ditto), peas (any brand), grean beans (Cascadian Farm), corn (any brand), blueberries (Stahlbush Island Farms), and cooked dried beans (there are only two of us so I usually cook a pound at a time, freeze half and cook with the other half).

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Good luck with the fridge! I haven't had one go south on me in a long time, but I still remember the experience and wouldn't wish it on anyone..

You said you keep lemongrass in the freezer. What's your climate like? Around here I have a couple friends who planted one stalk in their backyard and it took off like, well, grass.. :) If you have the space, it might be something to try..

I also have a question about the galangal. I rarely see it fresh in my neck of the woods, so I ended up getting a small jar of powdered. Do you know how the flavours compare? I use it pretty much exclusively for Thai soups, and haven't noticed a huge difference from what I get from my local take-out place.

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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Oh, of course! My freezer is always full of stocks of all kinds, and bags of frozen bones and odds and ends for the next batch - but you were asking what to buy at the grocery store, right? I suppose you should pick some of the commercial stuff up, just to have handy until you can make your own. But you won't need to freeze that.

I did think of something else I keep (guilty pleasure - Snadra reminded me): potato cakes! A fragrant, crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-creamy-on-the-inside potato cake, topped with some melted cheese, topped with an egg - now that's a breakfast for a queen! Not too often, mind you, but when I want it, I want it.

And there's always extra bacon, too, as others have mentioned. Some things you just don't ever want to be without!

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