3 Weeknight-Friendly Ingredients That Should Always Be in Your Freezer

Shrimp, peaches, and peas all freeze beautifully, thaw quickly, and can help you get dinner on the table fast. 

Published Feb. 17, 2023.

Cooking dinner every night can be work, but it shouldn’t feel like a chore. Cook’s Country’s main goal is to help all our readers—looking at you, reader—become better, more confident cooks. By cooking our rigorously tested recipes, we hope you pick up the skills and intuition to confidently improvise and, using techniques you learned from us, create meals and recipes on the fly. 

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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

Cooking with Frozen Shrimp

As with a lot of seafood, most people are better off buying frozen shrimp than taking their chances with fresh (don’t @ me, Gulf Coast). That’s because most of the shrimp that’s caught is quick-frozen right on the boat, shipped to your market, and thawed there. So you never know how long those “fresh” shrimp you see in the case have been hanging out. (And if they go on sale, you know the stinky end is near.)

Thaw frozen shrimp by placing themright in their package if they are sealed in an airtight bagin a bowl of cold tap water. Change the water every 5 minutes or so, and the shrimp should be ready to season and cook in less than 20 minutes. 

Dinner ideas for thawed frozen shrimp: Stir-fry, add to fried rice, grill or broil (and glaze), use in scampi, poach for shrimp cocktail or to perch atop a salad, make soup or bisque. 


Chile-Garlic Shrimp

Quick-cooking shrimp and ultraflavorful dried chiles team up to kick the midweek dinner blues to the curb.
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Cooking with Frozen Peaches

Peaches make this list because they swing sweet and savory. You’ll want to thaw them first; submerging the sealed peaches in cold water works well, as does a short stint or two in the microwave (you can also move the bag to the fridge before your workday starts). On the sweet side, peaches love ice cream and any kind of pastry dough; leaning savory, this stone fruit goes well with pork and poultry. 

Dessert ideas for thawed frozen peaches: Toss with sugar, a pinch of salt, and warm spice before spooning over ice cream. Fold inside store-bought pie dough or puff pastry for hand pies or turnovers. Combine with vanilla ice cream and a little milk in the blender for milkshakes. 

Dinner ideas for thawed frozen peaches: Add to pan sauces for seared pork chops or chicken parts. Chop and add to rice pilaf, couscous, or quinoa. Make a salsa to top fish or tofu with shallot, fresh mint or basil, salt, and lime juice. 


Peach-Glazed Grilled Pork Chops

For a late summer supper, a sticky, sweet peach glaze is the perfect accompaniment to grilled pork chops.
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Cooking with Frozen Peas

Unless you are growing your own peas or have a source within golf-drive distance of your kitchen, you are usually better off using frozen peas over fresh. That’s because as soon as peas are picked, the peas’ sugar starts converting to starch, meaning they won’t be as sweet. 

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While many of our recipes call for thawing frozen peas before adding them to dishes, you can sometimes skip this step as long as the peas will be exposed to heat for 5 minutes or so.

Dinner ideas for frozen peas: Enjoy their emerald color and sweet flavor in beef stew, chicken soup, fried rice, pastas, and saucy braises such as chana masala. 


Steak Fried Rice

This savory, superflavorful, meaty fried rice comes together surprisingly quickly.
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