5 Foods You Should ALWAYS Have in your Freezer On A Plant-Based Diet
I first got the idea for this video when I saw a techie on YouTube point out the “10 Things You Should ALWAYS Be Buying at Costco.” I thought I could spin it to plant foods, but we had already done plenty of food hauls on our channel. It got me thinking that we could do a series on 5 things you should always have in your: freezer, pantry, fridge, and more! What I liked about this concept was, although I know some people truly do like to watch grocery hauls just for the entertainment, that depending on the region of the world you live in, you might not all have the same stores. By filming a video this way, we could tell you all the things WE love to keep in our freezer, regardless of store (although, we do throw out some crazy Trader Joe’s love in this video).
I will point out though, that most of our freezer goods do come from one of three places: Costco, Trader Joes, and Walmart. Walmart might be a surprising choice and I’ll admit, we don’t grocery shop there often, but they have a great selection of single-ingredient frozen vegetables and mixes in their freezer aisle. The last time I was there, I picked up some “new” ones to try, such as a mixed squash blend.
I know many people who follow a whole food plant based diet also adhere to a weight loss or management program such as Chef Aj’s Ultimate Weight Loss or McDougall’s Maximum Weight loss, and I love that these frozen veggies are pre-portioned in a way that you know exactly how much you’re getting in one go. I use this hack to bulk up my lunches and dinners with more steamed veg since try as I might - I am not a salad lover.
Whether or not you’re on a weight loss program, frozen foods are a lifesaver when it comes to saving time in the kitchen especially when you follow a whole food plant based lifestyle. We actually went ahead and made a Pantry & Freezer Essentials list that you can download here! Having chopped veggies and fruits at the ready in your freezer makes it so that we can enjoy “fast food” again. Sure we like to cook from scratch and enjoy fresh produce, but nothing can beat throwing a few bags of fresh veggies into a pot (or Instant Pot!) with some cans of beans, tomatoes, and spices and calling it a meal. Without further ado.. Here’s our list of 5 (actually, 10!) frozen foods we ALWAYS keep in our freezer.
#1 - Onions & Peppers
We love frozen onions and peppers because they are a tit for tat replacement to their fresh counterparts and taste almost exactly the same too. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, check out their Fire Roasted Onions & Peppers. They are chopped like fajita veggies and can be sauteed up just like that to top your tacos or just as easily added to a stew. In most other stores, however, the onions and peppers are not mixed, which is great because one bag will typically equal one onion or pepper, depending on which you’re using. Knowing that little food hack makes it a dream when you’re subbing out frozen for fresh in meal recipes.
We most often use frozen onions and peppers if we’re whipping up a fast chili or stew for lunch, or if we’re making Dillon’s famous Instant Pot Baked Ziti while traveling. We haven’t revealed that recipe to everyone just yet, but you can find it on our live cooking show, Well Your Weekend, in Episode 53. We also did a Soup’R’Stew formulator which you could see a preview of in our YouTube video. That was one of my favorite episodes because it truly showcased how we will just whip things together during the week into something edible and tasty that is not necessarily a recipe and relies on frozen and canned foods for convenience. Check it out!
#2 - Spinach & Artichoke..Hearts
I’ll start with the artichoke hearts for this one… and I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen them like this anywhere other than Trader Joe’s. I know you can find canned versions sometimes that aren’t packed with oil, but still contain sodium, but these frozen artichoke hearts are SOS-free (no added salt, oil, or sugar!)
While we love these in the aforementioned Baked Ziti, they are also great to thaw and chop up for pizzas, as well as dips.. Such as spinach artichoke dip!
Speaking of spinach, we lumped frozen spinach into number 2 for no apparent reason but we do use quite a bit of it in our food rotation. I honestly love to just throw it in the steamer and use as a side dish for meals. I usually make it when Dillon makes ziti and I pour the ziti over it to get more greens into my diet. It takes the FOMO out of buying fresh spinach and needing to use it all before it wilts, and when it’s already
in convenient one-pound bags, you know exactly how much you’re getting. How simple is that!
#3 - Peas & Corn
Number 3 on our list is frozen peas and corn, or what I consider to be “toothsome” veggies as they aren’t as sensitive as some of their squash counterparts. Peas are another frozen vegetable that are so easy to just add on the stove for an extra veggie oomph. Our favorite way to use peas is when we’re making mac and cheese with the Well Your World Cheese Sauce mix. You simply add them to your cooking pasta in the last few minutes of boiling and you’re ready to go!
While Dillon and I both hate canned peas, corn is one of those veggies that is great canned or frozen. We usually keep some in both our pantry AND freezer because of this. I love how easy it is to mix a can of corn and beans and call it a meal. I showed off some Cowboy Caviar I had made with Well Your World Desert Catalina in the video. You can also get this recipe for free in our Product Guide.
#4 - Frozen Fruit
Frozen fruit is a lifesaver in my opinion because it’s always there when you need it. I did emphasize frozen berries and frozen bananas in this video, but Dillon also loves the frozen mango, pineapple, and peaches for his morning smoothies. Frozen bananas are not something I would buy in the store, those are a DIY situation. More often than not, I find myself freezing our bananas because we just don’t eat them in time. I like to peel them and throw them in a giant ziplock freezer bag. You can vacuum seal them if you want them to stay fresher longer, but I thaw one out for my sweet potato banana mash breakfast every morning and between that and an occasional nice cream treat, we go through them pretty fast.
Berries are so fast and convenient for smoothies, oatmeal, and so much more. Have you ever tried just microwaving frozen berries and topping with a little bit of cinnamon for a quick dessert? It’s so fast and easy and healthy!
#5 - Riced Cauliflower
I fell in love with riced cauliflower the first time I ever decided to mix it with soy milk and Nooch. That was the basis for my magical Riced Cauliflower meal that you can watch here. When riced cauliflower first hit the scene I was skeptical of this trend but I love how delicious and versatile it is. You can mix it with regular rice to bulk up the starch or just have it on it’s own for a low-cal delight.
Bonus #1 - Frozen Rice
Frozen rice should have probably been in our “top 5” but it was wrestling with riced cauliflower for the spot. While rice does take a long time to cook, it’s usually a set-and-forget process for me when I do it in the Instant Pot that it doesn’t bother me to cook it fresh. You could even cook it fresh and portion out your own bags of rice for the freezer.
All that aside, I still think frozen rice is a lifesaver for a few reasons. When those moments in life hit where you are hungry and you need a meal fast, especially in a moment of ‘fast healthy food’ vs. ‘junk food’ (we’ve all been there), frozen rice is the hero. With frozen rice you’re 3 minutes in the microwave away from a meal. Mix that with some canned beans and top with salsa or sriracha for the emergency meal of your dreams. I used to always keep these in the freezer at work just in case! They are also perfect for traveling, especially if your hotel only has a microwave. It might not have made the top 5, but it has a special place in my heart.
Bonus #2 - Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds were always going to be a bonus item for the mere fact that they do not technically require freezing. What’s great about freezing them, however, is it keeps them way fresher longer, and it allows you to buy them ON SALE. Thank goodness because if you’ve ever had to buy whole cashews at full price then you know how much it hurts like a dagger through the chest. Don’t tell Dillon I’m telling you this, but I’ve seen him hoard quite a few Sprouts coupons and then wait until the nuts are on sale to lay down quite the pretty penny (still!) for at least a year's-supply. If you’re saving them for the long haul, I would suggest vacuum sealing them if you have the technology to do so otherwise they will have a freezer burn flavor, and then you've wasted all your money...
I hope you liked our list of our 5 Freezer Essentials. Don’t forget to download our free Pantry & Freezer Essentials list and stay tuned for more videos like this one. Catch you next time! Xoxo, Reebs