As promised, today’s post is going into detail about the fridge and freezer staples that can help you to make quick and nourishing family meals, even without a meal plan!
Meal plans can make feeding your family easier, hands down. But sometimes life happens and a meal plan just doesn’t get done. Which means that dinner comes around, and you need to have a way to feed your family, fast!
Check out last week’s post on pantry staples for all the non-perishable items to stock. This week we’ll focus purely on the perishable fridge and freezer staples.
Frozen Fruits and Veggies
Did you know that frozen fruits and veggies are just as healthy as fresh? In some cases, they’re even better!
Frozen fruits and veggies are picked and frozen at their peak ripeness. That means that they are chock full of nutrients! Most fresh produce that has to travel from the farm is picked before it is ripe. A lot of nutrients are transferred to the produce from the plants in the last few days of ripening. Meaning that if a fruit or veggie was picked early, it doesn’t have as many nutrients as if they had been picked at full ripeness.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am by no means suggesting that you shouldn’t eat fresh fruits and veggies! They are still full of so many nutrients, and are undeniably good for you. But many people have the misperception that frozen fruits and veggies aren’t healthy for you. When in reality, they can be the same or better than fresh produce from a nutrition standpoint. All you need to look for are bags with only the fruit or veggie as the ingredient. Most single fruit or veggie bags have no added ingredients, and there are many medleys out there with no extra ingredients, either.
Do you store bread in your freezer? Leaving your bread in your freezer can extend it’s life, and give you more time to eat it. Putting bread directly into your freezer from the store guarantees that you’ll never have to worry about moldy bread! While I don’t necessarily recommend this for the more artisanal style of breads with crispy crusts, your average sandwich bread does amazingly well.
Even if you eat toast or sandwiches several times a week, the freezer can still be a great option. All you have to do when you want a piece is throw it in your toaster and toast like normal. Quick, easy, and if you always have some in your freezer as back up it can lend itself to a quick grilled cheese or breakfast for dinner meal.
Frozen Snacks and Baked Goods
Batch cooking things like muffins, breakfast donuts, these baby cookies, and even cookies for dessert and then freezing them means you will always have a snack to grab. Need them for kid lunch boxes or work snacks? Take them out of the freezer when packing, and they’ll be defrosted by the time you’re ready to eat them.
If you follow me on instagram, you know that we don’t usually have much meat in my house out of personal preference. But meat can be such a great freezer option! Most people already store their meat in the freezer, but making sure that you always have some on hand can be a great way to make easy meals.
Whether you have cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, or just use the milk to drink, it is a great staple to have! Many recipes call for it, and it can be used to add additional calories to foods for kids who need more in their food.
While cheese should be limited for babies under 12 months due to the salt content, it can still be given in smaller amounts. And for the rest of the family, cheese is a great source of protein and calcium, and essential for many quick meals! (Tacos, grilled cheese, pasta, quesadillas, the list of easy meals with cheese is endless…)
Yogurt is such a great food for the whole family! Chock full of probiotics, protein, and calcium, it can be used in so many ways. Buying greek yogurt means it’s great for babies just learning how to self-feed as it will stay on the spoon, and can also be used in place of sour cream for recipes. Not because sour cream is bad, but because needing to stock one less staple item is always good! It can easily be subbed in any recipe that calls for sour cream, used on things like tacos or burritos, or in dips and sauces. The possibilities are endless for all meals, not just dinner.
This deserves a picture all on it’s own because it is literally the one fresh veggie that you should always have in your fridge. It’s cheap, especially if you buy in bulk at your grocery store or even Costco.
It can be added to pretty much anything to give it some vegetable power. Pizza? Check. Nachos? Yep, there too. Throw it on a sandwich, in pasta, sauté it with eggs. Any meal can work with some extra spinach. It lasts forever. You really can’t go wrong with it!
Whether you’re having them for breakfast, lunch, or baking, eggs are a staple item! They can be made an infinite number of ways all on their own, and are nutritional powerhouses. Long gone are the days when people thought they were unhealthy or you should just eat the whites. The yolks have so many nutrients in them it’d be a shame not to eat them. So while you still shouldn’t go hog wild and have 5 eggs every day, even an egg a day appears to be healthy and can provide so many important benefits to both you and your kids.
While there are many things that could go here, these are truly versatile and can be used for cooking, in marinades, or for dressings, to name a few. And while fresh lemon juice and garlic can do wonders for dishes, they take time. And when you’re just making a quick family meal, time is usually not something you have a lot of. Using bottled lemon juice and minced garlic are quick and easy swaps that don’t overly compromise the flavor of a dish, but allow you to make it in much less time! That’s winning in my book.
With that, you should have most ingredients you need to make quick and nutritious meals for your family. While these obviously do not replace a full grocery shop, ensuring that you always have these, and the items in the pantry list, in your kitchen means you can make several meals with no other ingredients. An important skill in any parent’s repertoire!
Did I leave out any staples that you swear by? Find me on Instagram and join the conversation!