What do you think of when you hear “frozen food”? I’m sure a lot of people automatically think of frozen meals like pizza or “diet” entrees. Premade frozen meals are usually loaded with sodium and preservatives, are high in carbohydrates, and low in protein, so overall not the healthiest of options. Freezing in itself is a method of preservation, so there really is no need to add preservatives to foods that will be frozen.
When I think of frozen foods, I think of individual, unprocessed foods and homemade items that offer convenience and provide several options to make a simple, healthy meal.
Individual Frozen Foods
Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at peak ripeness and are flash frozen to lock away the nutrients. These may actually be healthier than fresh produce because you have no way of knowing how long those products have been in transit and sitting on the shelves losing nutrient content. Frozen fruits and vegetables are great to keep on hand to supplement any meal, whether it be frozen berries or bananas in a smoothie or a steamer bag of veggies to compliment dinner. Just be aware of added ingredients such as sugar or other sweeteners added to fruits or sauces on vegetables.
Frozen meats, fish and seafood are great protein sources to keep on hand. Prepackaged items like chicken breast are available at the store, or buy it fresh and store in freezer or vacuum sealed bags. Don’t forget to date it so you know how long it’s been in there. Most are best if taken out to thaw the night before like larger cuts of meat or fish. Small seafood like shrimp and scallops thaw quickly and can be cooked easily in a pan to add to an array of different meals. Last night I made a quick meal of a frozen stir fry vegetable blend and some frozen shrimp. Some meats can be found pre-cooked, but pay attention to added ingredients like salt and other preservatives. Burgers are something that can be cooked straight from the freezer. You can pre-cook meats and freeze them yourself. Great examples are meatball or mini-meatloaf muffins or slices.
Homemade Foods to Freeze
Leftovers – Nothing beats the convenience of popping a frozen meal in the microwave after a long day. Sometime you just don’t want to cook. The secret is in your meal prep. Simply double your recipes and save the leftovers if freezer containers. Make sure to freeze in individual servings to be defrosted for a quick lunch or dinner later on. I often freeze soups, chili, or casseroles. Soon your freezer will resemble the frozen food aisle, without all of the extra preservatives.
Sauces, stock, or pesto – Freeze in quart size bags or in ice cube trays for easy thawing. It sure beats seasoning mixes that are full of chemicals.
“Crock Pot Dump Meals” – Combine all (or most) of the ingredients needed for a meal in a gallon size freezer bag. Use a sharpie to label and write cooking instructions on the bags. When ready to prepare, take out the night before to thaw in the refrigerator, then pop it in the crockpot the next day. You can find some great paleo freezer meal recipes here and here.
You can actually freeze A LOT of foods. Save time and money when shopping by buying certain items in larger quantities and freezing them. Check out this article for what you can freeze and how to do it. Having items ready to go in the freezer can save you time and can help you make better meal choices. Success is all about making good choices easier.