Last Update: December 1, 2022
If you’ve been bypassing the frozen aisle when you shop, it’s time to take another look. Why? Because a well-stocked freezer is a home cook’s secret weapon for fast, flavorful, and healthy meals. Famed Italian chef Lidia Bastianich encourages cooks to make their freezer “a treasure chest” and Camilla Marcus, owner of LA catering company West-Bourne, always keeps chicken stock and wine on ice “for future uses, like deglazing pans and making sauces.” So smart! Frozen foods are also total time-savers. Keep reading to learn our tips and tricks for getting flavorful meals on the table fast—no thawing required.
There are plenty of reasons to pack your freezer with healthy ingredients that fit seamlessly into your meal planning rotation.
No time to thaw? No problem. Once you get into the swing of cooking with frozen foods it’ll be easier than ever to incorporate vegetables, meats, and seafoods into your routine.
Some frozen ingredients are easier to use than others. For ready-in-a-flash meals, here are five ingredients you can use without thawing.
Perfect your frozen foods strategy with these simple-yet-indispensable recipes.
One of the secrets to successfully roasting frozen broccoli is using high heat. The florets will start browning immediately, and cook up perfectly golden and tender. Here’s a basic method to follow.
Arrange a rimmed baking sheet in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450°F. Empty a 16-ounce bag of frozen broccoli into a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of crushed red pepper if you like a little spice.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven (don’t forget your mitts!) and spread the broccoli in an even layer. Roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until broccoli is tender and brown in spots.
The USDA says it’s safe to cook chicken from a frozen state; you’ll just need to up your cooking time. (For breasts, you’re looking at between 30 and 45 minutes.) Try this easy method:
Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a foil-lined pan. You can go in pretty much any direction from a flavor perspective—brush on BBQ sauce or mustard, season with salt and pepper, or try a bold, ready-made paleo spice mix. Since thawed breasts will cook for 20 to 30 minutes, double the time and check your chicken along the way. They’re done when the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
While the chicken roasts, you can prepare peppers and onions for fajitas, sort out your sides, or whisk a vinaigrette for chicken salad.
You can cook salmon straight from its frozen form by placing filets on a sheet tray, covering with foil, and baking for 15 minutes at 425°F. Remove the foil and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through. For a slightly fancier (but super simple) recipe, watch this video for Honey Mustard Baked Salmon to see how it’s done.
You’ll love this fall-inspired dish complete with roasted Brussels sprouts and salmon dressed with a tangy mustard sauce. Optional: a glass of clean wine on the side.
Yield: 2 servings
Active time: 5 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
For the salmon:
14-ounces Brussels sprouts, halved
Thrive Market Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Thrive Market Organic Ground Pepper
2 (5-ounce) Thrive Market Wild-Caught Sockeye Salmon filets, frozen
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon Thrive Market Organic Spicy Brown Mustard
1 ½ teaspoons Thrive Market Organic Maple Syrup
Generous pinch Thrive Market Organic Ground Pepper
Make the salmon:
Preheat oven to 425°F and arrange Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss. Push some of the Brussels sprouts to the side, making room for the salmon in the middle. Place salmon filets skin side down on the sheet tray. Bake for 10 minutes.
Make the sauce:
While the salmon cooks, combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and spoon sauce over the salmon filets. Bake for another 15 to 17 minutes, or until cooked through.
Whipping up a shrimp dish straight from frozen is as simple as picking out your favorite spice mix (try Cajun, Garam Masala, or Herbes de Provence) and preheating the broiler with a baking sheet inside. Place shrimp in a colander and rinse under cold water to remove any ice crystals. Pat dry to remove excess water, then toss shrimp in a bowl with your seasonings of choice. Broil on the preheated baking sheet, arranged in a single layer, for 5 minutes, or until tender.
Start your freezer upgrade with 7 of our best ingredients that are ready to simplify meal times.
Versatile and nutritious, every freezer needs a bag (or two) of cauliflower rice. This bag is keto- and paleo-friendly, and can easily be added to bowls, taco fillings, burger patties, and more.
Enjoy fresh-from-the-farm flavor any time of year with organic blueberries. Add them to smoothies, simmer with maple syrup for an ice cream topping, or add a handful to pancake batter.
Our wild-caught shrimp are caught with small boats, helping to reduce bycatch and minimize fuel use. You can cook them from frozen (see our recipe tips above) and experiment with different seasonings.
Iron, potassium, and calcium are three of the essential nutrients broccoli offers, and a frozen bag stashed away means you can quickly add some to pasta or grains, steam it up for a side, or even sneak a few florets into a smoothie (no one will ever know).
With 4g of dietary fiber per serving, incorporating more peas into your family’s diet is a great way to boost nutrition. These vine-sweetened peas from Cascadian Farm are harvested at the peak of freshness and flash frozen.
Our wild-caught fish is harvested in icy Alaskan waters by MSC Certified fisheries that use sustainable methods to help minimize overfishing. Bust out your sheet pan (and bookmark the recipe above) because you don’t even need to thaw filets before baking.
Mary’s Poultry chicken breasts meet GAP Step 3 animal welfare standards and are never treated with antibiotics or added hormones. Lean breasts make a great cook-from-frozen option. Serve them up with a zippy chimichurri or pesto for an added flavor boost.
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