Real Food Tips: 21 Essentials for Freezer, Pantry & Fridge

The timing for this post is perfect because my freezer has never been so beautifully stocked in my life. I’ve actually been wanting to share that my husband and I are lucky enough to be going on the trip of a lifetime tomorrow.

While our children stay home with the grandparents, we will spend the next 15 days exploring Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and China. I absolutely love to travel and desperately want to see as much of the world as possible, so this trip is honestly a dream come true for us!

Our fully-stocked freezer

So what does this have to do with my freezer one might ask? Since we have two different sets of grandparents who are generous enough to fly here and baby-sit, I decided to take it upon myself to hook them up.

Not only is my wine rack fuller than it’s ever been, but my freezer is stocked to the max with homemade soups, breads, tortillas, breakfast items, muffins, etc. I also bought and froze lots of locally and humanely raised meats like whole chickens, flank steaks, ground meat, bacon, and pork tenderloin. I even found some fresh North Carolina seafood that I threw in the freezer, too.

The idea is that they won’t have to worry about buying any food other than fresh fruit and veggies while we are gone. Oh, and this will also guarantee that my children will mainly be eating “real food” approved items in our absence…c’mon you know that has something to do with all this, too. :)

So without further ado, here are 21 “real food” freezer, pantry, and fridge essentials including pictures from my own kitchen (click images and then click again to zoom in)!


7 “Real Food” Freezer Essentials

I hope to keep it stocked so nicely for us to enjoy when we return! I also made a “freezer inventory list,” which would be nice to have on hand if we could keep up with it as well.

  1. Frozen organic berries for making smoothies or berry sauce
  2. Whole-grain flours like whole-wheat & masa harina and whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  3. Pre-made stored dishes like soups, sauces, stocks, raviolis, smoothie pops and other leftovers
  4. Pre-made baked goods like pancakes, waffles and muffins
  5. Extra whole-grain breads and tortillas for when you can’t make it to the bakery or don’t feel like making a fresh batch
  6. Locally & humanely raised meats and seafood that you stock up on when you find a good source and have the chance to buy it
  7. Frozen organic vegetables like peas and corn (frozen are more nutritious than canned)

Our pantry

7 “Real Food” Pantry Essentials

  1. Nuts (like raw cashews, almonds, & pecans) and seeds (like raw pumpkin & sunflower). The pantry works for short-term storage, but if you don’t go through these items fairly quickly then store them in the freezer.
  2. Dried fruit like raisins, dried apricots, and dried apple rings. Also 1-ingredient organic applesauce is great to have on hand when you are out of fresh fruit.
  3. Baking ingredients like honey, vanilla extract, spices, oils, salt, and baking powder/soda.
  4. Whole-grain products like whole-grain sandwich bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat couscous, whole-wheat pretzels/crackers, etc.
  5. Whole grain cereals like raw oats (for oatmeal), homemade granola, shredded wheat, and whole-grain corn puffs.
  6. Fresh fruit that doesn’t need to be refrigerated like bananas, peaches, apples, pears, tomatoes, etc. We actually keep these items in a big fruit bowl on the kitchen table.
  7. Staples like potatoes, onions, garlic, dried/canned beans, and canned tomato products.

7 “Real Food” Fridge Essentials

Our fridge
  1. Dairy products like milk, cheese, cream cheese and plain yogurt
  2. Eggs
  3. Perishable fruits & vegetables
  4. 1-ingredient peanut butter & “all-fruit” type jelly
  5. Cooking fats like unsalted organic butter, clarified butter (ghee), and lard
  6. Snacks like olives and pickles
  7. Spread and sauces like hummus, tzatiki, soy sauce, maple syrup, mustard, and homemade salad dressings

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184 thoughts on “Real Food Tips: 21 Essentials for Freezer, Pantry & Fridge”

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  1. Hi! I was wondering if you pull your flour out of the freezer early before you make bread to let it warm up, so it doesn’t bring the temperature of the yeast/water down from the temperature the recipe calls for. I normally keep mine in the freezer, but I have been making bread so much lately, it has sat on my counter for the last couple of days. So, I was just wandering!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Melissa. I usually pull it out as the first thing I do before gathering the other ingredients which gives it some time to come to room temperature. Jill

  2. I bought whole wheat flour at an amish store while out of town. I opened it the other day to use, does this need to be kept in the refrigerator? If so, how long can it stay in there for?!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Christina. I store all of my flour in the refrigerator. I would say it can probably last 3-6 months, but, that’s a guess since I usually get through mine before that. Jill

  3. I made zucinni pancakes lastnight and couldn’t make them all so I saved the batter for later. Is it safe in the fridge or shouldI freeze it?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jamie. I think as long as you use it within say the next 2 days or so it should be fine. Jill

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jenn. Crofter’s makes an all fruit jelly. There is also another one at Earthfare, I just can’t recall the name at the moment. Jill

  4. Hi Lisa! What a great list! I’ve talked my husband into taking the 100 days of mini real food challenges and I am very excited about starting! I was wondering what containers you use in your pantry to store your grains and cereals? Also, besides the canning jars, what other containers do you use to freeze nuts and meals? Thanks for all the work you do to help us all eat better food!

  5. Hi, just saw you on pinterest. I will be a regular follower, GREAT information on here! Just one thing though, I think I see Horizon cheese in your fridge. They have often gotten in trouble for claiming to be organic but they have a lot of nasty processes like factory farms to make their products. It’s so hard to trust anyone today who claims to be organic! I have been working hard to start buying from farmers i meet personally, sometimes it can be cheaper too if you buy from them all the time!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Our freezer is 14.7 cubic feet…and I haven’t yet, but hope to write a post that focuses on make ahead meals at some point because I agree it’s an important topic!

  6. According to the 5 ingredient rule, I found that Dannon all natural yogurt (plain) has only one, cultured grade A milk!

  7. I agree, corn is NOT a vegetable, neither are white potatoes, both are starches. Also dairy and eggs should be stored in the main part of your fridge, according to Martha Stewart, as the door doesn’t stay cold enough. That being said, I’m jealous of all the extra space in your fridge, mine is usually overflowing with real food :)

  8. Hi,
    I’m a latecomer to your blog. I love(!) this post but I couldn’t help but cringe when you called corn a vegetable, as you mentioned with the whole-grain cereal portion.

    I feel that it’s also worth mentioning that corn and soy products (and items containing either ingredient) should always be purchased organic as this is the only way to ensure you’re not eating Monsanto’s “Round-up Ready” GMOs.

    Thanks for your blogging. Looking forward to reading more!

  9. I have Celiac Disease and cannot have anything with gluten (ie wheat, barely, rye, or spelt) in it. I have been moving more towards whole food and healthier eating but I can’t seem to figure out how to get around using starches or finding good whole grain gluten free bread. Is there anything you suggest?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Check out Deliciously Organic and Elana’s Pantry (both blogs) b/c they have lots of gluten-free info/recipes!

  10. Lisa, I’ve heard that it is NOT suggested to freeze or put in the fridge whole wheat bread ( or any type of bread) as it will change the taste or consistency? what is your suggestion? Thanks for all you do!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Great Harvest Bakery (where I shop regularly) told me I can freeze the bread, but not to refrigerate it b/c like you said…it compromises the texture. I freeze their bread all the time and then defrost it (and keep it) at room temp. It comes out great! (And you are welcome! :) )

  11. Do you have any tips for buying pure maple syrup? I guess what I want to know is whether there is a way to buy it in larger quantities to keep costs down. It’s soooo expensive. :)

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I am not the best bargain hunter, but people have told me that you can get good deals on staples like this if you order it online. I buy mine from Earth Fare b/c it is convenient :)

  12. Hi Lisa, I’m so jealous over your freezer! I’m on a campaign to convince my hsband that we NEED one. It looks like we have the same refrigerator that you do so you know how small the freezer compartment is!! I have a questionon a completely different subject. We are getting a puppy soon. I was wondering if you have pets and if so what do you feed them? I want to make sure I feed our new family member with as much care as I do the rest of us.

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      We have two dogs and after I did some research, we switched to Diamond brand dog food. I tried Natural Balance (I had a couple of sample packs) and one of my dogs refused to eat it. We shop at Pet Club (it may be a southwest thing – we live in Arizona and they are all over the place) and they have many different options. We found that Diamond brand had the best bang for your buck (feeding two dogs gets expensive!). The first and foremost thing to look for is that meat is the first ingredient and not corn or some other filler (they will probably make an appearance later in the ingredient list, but you don’t want it to be in the first few ingredients). Good luck and I hope you enjoy your new puppy, they are such a blessing! :)

      Best,
      Janne

    2. Our dog is what started the shift to real food for us. After reading about pet nutrition and seeing Lew Olson and also Dr. Karen Becker (Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats- on how to start feeding your dog a healthy wholesome species appropriate diet) I was convinced that there is not a single dog food in a bag that is worth feeding a dog. It is all so very processed and made of very poor quality ingredients. I love the change it made in the health of our dog and it made me pose the question, if I want my dog eating the best, why am I not doing it! We are slowing moving to real food and I have found it is way harder for us humans to let go sometimes! Good luck!

    3. After tons of research we used to feed our dogs a raw diet which is biologically appropriate for canines but after moving to Germany this was no longer an option financially. We researched and tried a few grain-free foods and decided on Acana kibble. It’s wonderful to be able to read and understand every word on your dogs food label!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      When I busy frozen veggies/fruit I usually have no problem finding 1-ingredient products so I would keep looking.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      No, I don’t. I feel like my brain is already worried about a lot of things when it comes to food so I suppose I let some things (that we use infrequently) go!

  13. I make my own Ghee instead of using butter since my daughter is dairy intolerance used organic unsalted butter…you can see videos on how to make it on you tube!

    1. Hello, Patricia, my boyfriend tries not to eat any dairy as he is lactose intolerant. Does your daughter have the same problem? I have to modify everything I make. Does Ghee make it easier to digest?

      1. I don’t know if you ever got your answer but I recently found out I am lactose intolerant and clarifying butter removes the milk solids so it takes out the lactose. Digesting the ghee should be easier due to that fact. Hope that helps.

  14. Wow! Great job putting together this list!

    If I had a larger fridge (and if I didn’t live in a dorm room) I would print out this list and take it with me to the market. I think I’ll file it away somewhere for when I get an apartment. (:

    I love it!

  15. Kathy- I’m pretty sure she gets her milk delivered by a local dairy farm.

    I found a local dairy that has grass-fed cows and they sell their milk at my local food co-op, unfortunately it is almost $7 for a HALF gallon of milk :(

  16. suzanne ballantyne

    Hey Lisa – enjoy your trip!

    When you get back – check out http://www.welcoa.org (wellness council of America) – look up the book by Dr. Ann Kulze about eating right for life – i think you’ll take lard off your list!? I know we eat these things in smaller quantities but I wonder about it…

    Also – any idea for pie crusts without as much butter? I’m going on a search myself. And lasly, since you mention it, what do you know about ghee and the changes to the butter once it’s clarified!? Does it alter the saturated fat content at all?
    thanks, happy trails,
    suzanne

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Don’t be afraid of good fats like butter (and even lard)! Here’s some more info on that including ghee: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/05/14/mini-pledge-week-10-no-refined-oils/ and also info on not eating low-fat: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/04/15/mini-pledge-week-6-no-low-fat-lite-or-nonfat-food-products/

      Also, don’t forget that our ancestors survived on lard as a cooking fat for centuries. Unfortunately some flawed research has made everyone scared of it (including me – until recently)!

    1. suzanne ballantyne

      glass bottles are available at whole foods and I’m guessing most food coops. Alternatively, it’s better to buy your milk in cartons (waxed cardboard) vs. plastic – according to some ‘food and toxicity’ gurus!? I tend to think the plastic is not all that bad as it’s kept cool so the toxins in the plastic don’t eat up and leach out into the milk. I tend to like glass containers though and I choose them when possible.

    2. 100 Days of Real Food

      I buy it at Earth Fare. It is also delivered locally, but a few months ago I figured out the same thing is a little cheaper at Earth Fare.

  17. Jen - Personal Trainer Miami Beach

    Great list!! I am always a little hesitant when it comes to putting prepared food in the freezer. Not so much because I’m afraid they will go bad but more because I usually forget that I have them in the freezer and then they are sitting there for months. Maybe I should put a list on the freezer with all the items in there and just cross them off when I eat them.

    Have a great trip!! I hope you will post some pictures here when you return!! ;)

    Best,

    Jen

  18. I discovered your site after yahoo did an article about what you guys are doing. I love your website and ideas, especially the kid friendly aspect of many of your recipes. I have a suggestion though: what if you did 100 days for working moms? or something like this. I typically work about 60 hours a week and I just don’t have a lot of time to cook, although I want to cook healthier.

    Thanks again for all the useful information!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I’ve considered that challenge, but not exactly sure how I would structure it. The fact of the matter is though I do “work” by keeping up with this blog. I don’t work quite as much as 60 hours a week, but it is often a full time job to write/edit/publish posts, make/test/photograph recipes, answer comments/emails, manage sponsors, promote the site, etc!

  19. I noticed you have frozen food in canning jars. Is there a method for this? I am afraid they wil crack, or cause freezer burn.

    1. They will definitely crack or explode if not frozen correctly! It has happened to me and it makes a big mess. They’ll be OK if you let the jars freeze before putting the lids on. That’s the only way to be sure they won’t crack or explode in your freezer.

    2. If you leave enough headspace in the glass jar at the top to allow for expansion, you won’t have a problem freezing it. About 1-2 inches of headspace is plenty of room.

    3. 100 Days of Real Food

      Yes, there is definitely a method. You either need to leave room at the top for the food to expand when frozen or you can freeze items with the top off (just to be safe) and add the top after it freezes. Good luck!

  20. Gee, can I come stay at your house? lol Looks great!! We have a very small freezer and no place to put a seperate freezer so I’m jealous! :)Have a GREAT trip!!!!

  21. This is awesome! Just curious about why olive oil was not listed as one of your cooking fats, and alsi, how lard made the list! I’d love to hear what you have to say about both. Enjoy your trip!

  22. I LOVE your pantry, in my small kitchen, the top of my fridge is my “pantry”! I am so jealous! Have fun on your trip and thanks for the great lists.

  23. Love all these ideas. As far as baking/cooking with flour. Do you grind your own flour, or buy a special brand?
    The grocerie store where I live only sell white and whole wheat (which is mostly white right?)… Just wondering what a healthy, cheaper alternative would be?
    Thanks!!!

    1. If the whole wheat is 100% whole wheat, you will be fine. I don’t think whole wheat flour is anything other than 100%. I know that Lisa has started grinding her own, but I think store-bought is okay, too.

    2. The brand that she uses in most of the recipes on the site is King Arthur White Whole Wheat. It’s 100% whole wheat but it’s ground from soft white winter wheat instead of hard wheat berries, so it’s a much softer, finer texture. It’s really great for baking and is much less heavy than “regular” whole wheat. I love it!

  24. We are leaving to Europe & have a similar situation with kids & Grandparents. What are your favorite premade, freezer friendly meals besides soups?

    1. I would LOV E to see an article with pre made meals that can go in the freezer! One recipe I often make and freeze is homemade chunky marinara with (grass fed beef)meatballs. We put a bag in the fridge to defrost and then pick up or make a nice whole grain bread and eat it without noodles. Mmmmm…

      1. 100 Days of Real Food

        Adding “pre-made frozen meals” to my list of future posts to publish…good idea!

  25. Thanks for the list of staples, Lisa! You have some great items on this list, and I’m sure both the kids and grandparents will appreciate all the work you put into their health while you are away.

    Have a wonderful trip, and Enjoy Your Journey!

    Sayonara ~