Though we don’t often give them the recognition they deserve, frozen foods do a lot of heavy lifting in the kitchen. They’re easy to store, foolproof to cook with, and they last for months on end. Plus, they can help you get dinner ready in a pinch—especially if you’re not in the mood to chop up all that broccoli.
While you might have a soft spot for prepped meals (Trader Joe’s, anyone?), a few simpler freezer staples are totally versatile. Think about how many ways you can use peas, after all (just not in guacamole, please). The recipes below are seven possibilities.
If You Have Spinach
This creamy dream from Half Baked Harvest is basically like eating your favorite dip for dinner. Use frozen spinach and canned artichokes to make a package of gnocchi extra delectable.
If You Have Corn…
Save for a few, frozen vegetables are almost always better than their canned counterparts. Freezing preserves the natural crunch of corn in a way that canning doesn’t, and these gooey cakes from Spoon Fork Bacon highlight that texture in the best way possible.
If You Have Pomegranate Kernels
Aside from the greens, almost everything in this salad from Chelsea’s Messy Apron could be made from ingredients that were originally frozen. Let the pomegranate seeds defrost for a bit before you’re ready to eat (no one enjoys crunching into ice unexpectedly); heat the sweet potatoes up in the oven or on the stove; and if you can’t find frozen wild rice, feel free to swap in quinoa instead.
If You Have Shrimp
If you don’t have the kitchen space for a spiralizer but still want the zoodle experience, you can find many frozen options that will satisfy your cravings. Then all you have to do is cook up some frozen shrimp (prepeeled options will make your life easier, but they’ll have less flavor than the ones with shells), finish the whole thing off with a bit of garlic and lemon, and enjoy this easy recipe from The Butter Half.
If You Have Tortellini
It’s never a bad idea to have a bag of cheese-filled dumplings waiting for you in the freezer. If you do, you can make this soul-warming soup from A Couple Cooks on a moment’s notice. It’s also a great opportunity to break out those frozen herbs you so smartly hid in the very back, especially if you don’t happen to have fresh basil just lying around.
If You Have Meatballs
Meatballs add a hit of protein to just about whatever you’re eating, and they make life even easier when all you have to do is warm them up. Use your favorite store-bought, frozen option (whether it be meat- or plant-based) to make this dish from Stuck in the Kitchen. And if you happen to have frozen brown rice on hand and don’t want to spend 40 minutes cooking it from scratch, now is the time to whip it out.