We live in the age of convenience food, where everything is available all the time.  Eating strawberries in January, however, is possible but pricey.  Those bell peppers that where 5 for a dollar the other day, will go as high as $2.00 each in the dead of winter.  That’s why now is the time to utilize your freezer full of popsicles and frozen entrées: throw that junk out if you have to, and make room for a winter stash.

Many fruits and veggies store well in the freezer, and processing them is simple.  Here is a short list of some items I store: 

- Strawberries and other berries
- Cantaloupe
- Pineapple
- Oranges
- Bell Pepper
- Homemade Pesto

To process, cut fruit or veggies into smaller pieces.  I cut strawberries in half, for example, and bell peppers into strips.  Arrange the pieces on a cookie sheet so that nothing is touching and let freeze for a few hours.  At this point, remove the cookie sheet from the freezer and bag the food in gallon freezer storage bags.  When you want to make a smoothie or cook fajitas, each piece is individually frozen for easy removal.  Produce will stay good for up to 6 months.

Pesto also freezes well and can be frozen in ice cube trays or Tupperware, depending on how much you want to use at once. 

Smoothies are one of my favorite ways to eat fruit out of season.  The frozen fruit helps keep the drink frosty, so I don’t even add ice cream to mine.  Here is a basic smoothie recipe that I alter depending on what fruit I have on hand:

1 apple, peeled and cored
1 orange, cut in pieces (frozen or fresh)
1 banana
1 C frozen strawberries
¼ C plain yogurt
2 spoonfuls of sugar (to taste)

You can also substitute ½ can frozen juice concentrate for the yogurt and sugar.  If the smoothie is too thick, add some milk (It won’t taste like a funky milkshake.  No one will even notice the milk, I promise).

Frozen Dessert

No discussion of freezer fare would be complete without dessert.  In my opinion, a well stocked freezer needs produce and dessert options.  Freezer meals, while nice, are hit and miss, but dessert is essential.  Four things I always have in my dream freezer:

-Fudge Sauce
-Chocolate Chip Cookies
-Cheesecake
-Cinnamon Rolls

Fudge Sauce and Cheesecake freeze exceptionally well, and there are a million reasons you might need them in a pinch: your husband invited company over and forgot to tell you?  Ice cream sundaes are ready when you’re not.  You signed up to bring dessert to something and your kids aren’t cooperating?  Cheesecake to the rescue!  Plus, it will give you a good excuse to make dessert when there aren’t enough people around to finish it off.

Cinnamon rolls are only good fresh, so I bake the entire recipe, eat half, and freeze the other half of the recipe for later.  I thaw out the rolls on my countertop and frost them right before we’re ready to eat.

Why do all that work for one-time enjoyment? 

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