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7 Essential Ingredients You Need in Your Freezer

Whether you're entertaining, or just trying to get dinner on the table fast, keeping these frozen gems on hand will make your life easier.

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Photo: Armando Rafael Moutela ©

Pie Crust

Especially key during the holidays, "pie crust is the first thing I'd hack, since it can be time-consuming and fussy to prep," says family cooking blogger Erin Chase. The nice thing about a pie is that you can even make the whole thing ahead of time and freeze it unbaked, then simply throw it in the oven when you need it. Most stores stock frozen pie crusts in sheet form that you roll out yourself or ones that come preformed.

By Nicole Cherie Jones

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Frozen Veggies

"I always keep several bags of frozen veggies in my freezer — they cut prep time in half," says Food Network star Gina Neely. Chase agrees: "Broccoli, green beans and corn are all kid-friendly staples." It's good to have a backup if you run out of fresh produce or don't have time to get that butternut squash in the oven, she adds. You can even find more sophisticated options like artichoke hearts or kale in the freezer aisle these days.

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Marinated (or Precooked) Meat and Seafood

Keeping your freezer stocked with frozen meat and seafood means you always have a good protein option, says Neely. Chase recommends taking it one step further to up the convenience factor: "I make shredded chicken with barbecue sauce, spaghetti meat sauce, or seasoned ground beef or chicken for tacos, and freeze in gallon- or quart-size plastic bags," she says. "Knowing you have an easy backup meal solution saves a lot of mental [and] emotional sanity [and] energy," she explains. Premarinated fish is also a convenient store-bought solution you can find in the freezer aisle, as are poultry or veggie burgers.

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Frozen Fruit

When fresh fruit goes on sale, stock up, chop it up and freeze it for smoothies, advises Chase. "You can also make smoothie packs by combining your favorite fruits and a cube of frozen yogurt and freezing in single-serve plastic bags," she says. Bags of frozen fruit like raspberries and cherries are also great to have on hand during the winter when these items are out of season. You can saute to make sauces, and serve over ice cream as a quick dessert or add to pancakes and muffins at breakfast.

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