Tips from The Kitchn

A Mom's 12 Must-Haves for a Stocked Summer Freezer

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As a kid, my summertime food fantasy was to have a chest freezer brimming with Hot Pockets, Swan's frozen food treats, and ice cream cones. Our actual summer fridge was more like a few bags of Otter Pops and some frozen chicken breasts, so I spent a lot of time trying to get invited over to friends' houses whose parents did get Swan's deliveries (and had a pool!)

Now as a parent myself, I realize what a valuable tool my freezer will be this summer. It'll help me feed hungry kids between summer camps, host neighborhood kids for cookouts and the occasional slip-and-slide afternoon, and, of course, enjoy the occasional summer stoop Popsicle myself. Here are the 12 must-haves I'm keeping stocked in my freezer this summer.

Image Credit: Lauren Volo

1. Van's Frozen Waffles

My family loves this brand of frozen waffles, but especially their gluten-free variety (and none of us are gluten-sensitive). Some mornings they get toasted up and served with butter and syrup, but they'll also get the fairy bread treatment and turned into both sandwiches for breakfast or lunches and even the occasional pizza.

Need more ideas?: 10 Fun Ways to Top a Frozen Waffle

2. Applegate Breakfast Sausages

I've been buying the family-sized bag of the maple and chicken sausage to make speedy breakfasts throughout the school year and I have absolutely no intention of stopping for summer.

3. Trader Joe's Hash Brown Patties

Admittedly, I don't shop at Trader Joes very often, but when I do I always buy two packages of their frozen has brown patties. These are a great breakfast option that bake up super crisp and can be topped as toast with eggs or avocado.

4. Stonyfield Yogurt Tubes

Yogurt tubes are usually in the fridge section, but I buy a stash for the freezer and treat them as a special "breakfast treat." You can do this with any of these tube-style yogurts, but Stonyfield has lower sugar than most.

5. Dole Cherry Berry Fruit Blend

Keeping frozen fruit on hand is as important for morning smoothies as it is for making faux-ice cream. Both my kids love snacking on frozen fruit when Popsicles aren't an option.

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman

6. OreIda Tater Tots

I just love tots and like to have a bag on hand at all times. These are the classics and bake up crispy. They're ideal for partnering with burgers or feeding impromptu neighborhood kids who stick around for dinner.

7. Annie's Pizza Poppers

I'm just living out my own childhood freezer fantasy by keep a few boxes of pizza poppers on hand. These will be an occasional after-camp snack or can become a quick dinner if we stay too late at the neighborhood pool.

8. Bell & Evan's Chicken Nuggets

These are the best chicken nuggets you can get for the freezer. I know because last summer we taste tested over a dozen different brands and fell in love with their tender white meat and crispy coating. They can be elusive in the grocery store, but my local Whole Foods seems to have them on hand regularly.

9. Costco Sirloin Hamburgers

My brother worked briefly as a meat cutter at Costco and gave me this hot tip. Buy the fresh sirloin patties and freeze them yourself. The sirloin patties are ground daily from fresh beef and have a more robust and meaty flavor. My 6-year -old is obsessed with cheeseburgers right now, so I expect we will be eating burgers at least once a week.

10. Good Pops Freezer Pops

I just very recently discovered this brand of Popsicles. We love their strawberry flavor for the kids and the coffee flavor for adults. I just ordered some of their Freezer Pops to try, but trust that there will also be those neon-hued Otter Pops in my freezer this summer too.

11. Tillamookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

My family relocated from the East Coast to the West Coast last summer and I'm really looking forward to having Tillamook ice cream in my freezer again. These sort of splurge ice cream sandwiches fall somewhere between a cone and a sandwich, and they're big enough to share.

12. Lunchbox and Cold Compress Ice Packs

Not food, I know, but don't forget to make room for ice packs that can do double duty in lunch box coolers and help for the inevitable skinned knees or sunburn!