How are you feeling this week? Have you gotten your holiday shopping done? Are you sick of people asking you that? I KNOW I AM. This year, the majority of my family has decided to forgo a big gift exchange and simply focus on spending time together and sharing little stocking stuffers instead. Jason and I have slowly decreased the amount that we give to each other for Christmas the past few years, and it’s worked out rather well. Throughout the year, we definitely buy what we need when we need it, but often the holidays can feel so overwhelming with trying to get the “perfect” gift for someone. I much prefer focusing on someone’s birthday when there’s less pressure and you can focus on one person. Does that make me a Grinch? Hopefully not…
As the holidays are upon us, whether it’s a stressful time for you or not, one of the first things to go by the wayside are our eating habits. With the amount of get togethers, parties, and end of the year deadlines, both my husband and I going in different directions. I know it’s not realistic to keep a bunch of fresh produce stocked because it’ll go bad, so I opt for the freezer instead. Perhaps it’s due to my upbringing, but my parents froze everything. Bread, leftovers, casseroles, pasta, veggies, fruit, etc. You name it, we saved it!
Let’s take a tour of what I currently have in my freezer. I did some tidying up just for you.
The glamour! We’ve got two levels of stuff here. Our ice maker is broken so please excuse the massive bag of ice.
Bottom left side is where I keep all of our frozen veggies. We’ve got a frozen rustic root blend (parsnips, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and beets), two bags of broccoli (my favorite), a lentil, grain, and veggie blend from Trader Joe’s, and two bags of mixed veggies. It just so happens that the majority of these are from Cascadian Farm Organics. You can definitely find other varieties at the grocery store, and you don’t need to buy organic, but these just always happen to be on sale at my local Sprouts. Fun fact, my husband grew up in the town over from the actual Cascadian Farm nestled in the beautiful Skagit Valley of Washington state. Reppin’ the PNW.
I sometimes throw a bag of veggies into the same pot when I’m boiling pasta. So that I’m not losing all the nutrients, I add them in when the pasta has about 4-5 minutes left. You can also throw a bowl in the microwave or even roast in the oven to prepare.
For fruit, I typically buy whatever is on sale. Are you sensing a pattern? I love mixed fruit, especially this Wyman’s variety of mango, berries, and pineapple. When berries cost $10 a pack at the store during the winter, these are a great alternative. I’ll throw frozen fruit into a smoothie for a quick breakfast, add to yogurt, or eat straight out of the bag. A frozen mango is one of my favorite things.
This bottom section stores all the random food items. I often keep frozen turkey burgers or bison burgers because they can be transformed into a quick dinner. I have some cocktail weenies for a Christmas party. That bag on top of the frozen meatballs is frozen focaccia bread my mom gave me from Costco. This rice medley from Trader Joe’s is a lifesaver and has a great blend with brown rice, red rice, and black barley. You can’t see it here, but I have some amazing, frozen cinnamon rolls from QVC (sorry Williams-Sonoma, QVC has some of my favorite food items for the holidays) and a pack of almond croissants back there as well. Again, for holiday celebrating. If I’m going to have something in the form of pastry, I like to stick to what I know is good quality and really, really satisfying.
Not pictured is the door of the freezer where I keep extra loaves of sourdough, our favorite whole-grain bread, a bag of ground flaxseed, and a box of baking soda. Speaking about flaxseed, storing it in the freezer helps delay the oils from breaking down quickly which causes the seeds to go rancid.
The beauty of frozen vegetables, fruit, and other kitchen staples is that you can use as much as you want and save the rest for later. Not only are you eliminating food waste, but did you know that frozen produce is packaged at the peak of freshness? Check out this page from FoodSafety.gov on storage times and food safety best practices.
What do you like to keep in your freezer?
What are your plans for the holidays?