Keeping your freezer stocked with key items means meals can be ready in a quick 15 minutes. These items take the stress out of meal planning and help you save some major time in the kitchen, whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner time.

Andrea Mathis
May 03, 2021
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A well-stocked freezer is the answer to those quick, last-minute meals as well as those late-night munchies. Keeping your freezer stocked with healthy items that come together quickly— like frozen vegetables, ravioli and pizza crust—can help to take the stress out of meal planning and make your weeknights easier. To help you save time in the kitchen, we've compiled a list of the top freezer essentials to keep on hand for fast meals ready in 15 minutes flat.

Tortellini, ravioli, gnocchi and dumplings

Cauliflower Gnocchi with Asparagus & Pesto
Credit: Carolyn Hodges, M.S., RD

Pasta is served at least once a week in most homes. It's super convenient and a great way to whip up a delicious meal in a hurry. It's also fulfilling and very satisfying. There are several different varieties that you can keep on hand. A few popular choices include, tortellini, gnocchi, and ravioli—there is so much you can do with these ingredients!

And don't forget things like frozen dumplings. Dip them in some soy sauce and serve with a quick cucumber salad and you have a delicious dinner in no time at all.

15-Minute Recipes to Try:

Frozen fruit

3-Ingredient Tropical Tangerine Smoothie
Credit: Carolyn Hodges, M.S., RDN

Frozen fruit is always a great choice to keep on hand. It can be used to make a variety of recipes, such as smoothies, fruit tarts, cobblers and muffins. You may not realize this, but frozen fruit is just as healthy as fresh fruit. That's right—it's picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen, meaning that you're still able to get all of those great nutrients. Some popular choices to keep on hand include strawberries, pineapple, mango, blueberries, cherries and blackberries.

15-Minute Recipes to Try:

Pie crust and puff pasty

3-ingredient mushroom & egg puff pastry rolls
Credit: Carolyn Hodges

Ready-made pastry is one of the best shortcuts ever! Frozen pie crusts and puff pastry can be used to make desserts like pies, tarts and cobblers, but also savory dishes, like Skillet Chicken Pot Pie and—our favorite—quiche, which makes for a great breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

15-Minute Recipes to Try:

Breads

Feta, Egg & Olive Pita
Credit: Ted and Chelsea Cavanaugh

Did you know that bread keeps longer in the freezer versus the refrigerator? And by keeping a loaf on hand in your freezer, you're just a few extra ingredients away from easy sandwiches, toast topped with eggs and avocado or blackberries and goat cheese for a sweet take, and so many other meals. And it doesn't stop at regular old sliced bread—you can stash away English muffins, tortillas, pita bread and naan for variety.To make sure that you are getting a great source of fiber and nutrients, try stocking up on whole grain or multigrain breads.

15-Minute Recipes to Try:

Pizza dough or frozen veggie pizza crusts

Sausage, Mushroom & Pesto Grilled Pizza

Nowadays, pizza crust goes beyond your basic white or whole-wheat dough. You can also find frozen cauliflower pizza crust, broccoli pizza crust and other tasty options, which are not only convenient but also help to add an extra serving of veggies to your day. Top with a little tomato sauce or pesto, cheese and some veggies and your meal is done!

15-Minute Recipes to Try:

Buffalo-Chicken Cauliflower Pizza (use a frozen cauliflower pizza crust to speed up the recipe)

Shrimp

shrimp puttanesca

Frozen shrimp is a great choice to keep on hand. It can be used in a variety of dishes and it is a great source of lean protein. Most seafood is frozen immediately after it's caught, which means you're getting fresh, high-quality seafood. Frozen shrimp defrosts very quickly and can be easily served as a main course, with a veggie or quick-cooking whole grain.

15 Minute Recipes to Try:

Frozen vegetables

Spanakopita Scrambled Egg Pitas

No freezer is complete without an assortment of frozen vegetables. Frozen vegetables are extremely versatile and can add important nutrients to any meal. You can serve them as a tasty side dish, or combine them with a few other ingredients to create a tasty soup or casserole.

A few great choices to keep on hand are broccoli, green beans, peas, corn and edamame—they hold up well in the freezing process and can be tossed into a delicious 15-minute dish such as this Teriyaki Chicken with Broccoli. You can also customize this recipe and swap out the broccoli for any veggies that you have on hand.

15-Minute Recipes to Try:

Catalan Spinach Sauté (top with a fried egg to make it a meal)