Frozen foods have come a long way since sad TV dinners with stiff turkey cutlets, muddy-looking gravy, and questionably goopy vegetables. When I used to think of frozen foods, I just thought of complete meals. Well, nutritionally they may not have been that complete, but in theory, they were. Frozen enchiladas with rice and beans. Frozen lasagna. Frozen stirfry. Frozen spaghetti dishes. I felt guilty buying frozen food because it seemed like I’d just given up on interacting with my ingredients in any genuine way. It seemed a bit sad—frozen meals, in my mind, were for divorced single dads or women on a weight loss plan.
Now, I’ve learned to diversify my uses of frozen items. I love getting creative with what’s in my kitchen, and I often make meals that are a combination of fresh things, frozen things, and even canned things. Sometimes, I throw in some takeout leftovers—Thai restaurants often give me too much rice, which I use with other meals throughout my week. There are a handful of single-ingredient and limited-ingredient frozen foods I always have on hand, because there is so much I can do with them. They can become a base for my fresh ingredients, or just the final topping a fresh entrée needed. Some foods are so much easier to handle frozen and prepared. I don’t mind taking the win and letting someone else cut, peel, dice, and cook certain ingredients for me if it saves me 45 minutes. And the beauty of frozen ingredients is that they (almost) never go bad, so they can be a lifesaver when you’re out of fresh food and out of time to hit the store. Here are multipurpose frozen foods you should always have in your freezer.
Whole grain waffles
Making waffle batter from scratch, frying it up, and cleaning up the waffle maker is quite a pain. Then, you have to use all of that batter quickly before it turns. Keep frozen waffles on hand and use them to make sweet or savory dishes. Chicken and waffles anyone? Or how about a cheese and egg sandwich, using waffles instead of bread? Huevos rancheros taste great over this crispy, doughy food, too.