Top 10 Healthy Foods to Keep in the Freezer
Food and eating healthily are high on my list of priorities. However, running a business doesn’t leave me with a lot of spare time, therefore, I rely heavily on my freezer. So much so that I have a second freezer that is always stocked to capacity with ready-to-eat meals, plus staple ingredients to make healthy cooking easy. No need to stress about what to cook or to rush out to the shops because you don’t have all the ingredients to make your favourite meal. Instead, pull something out of the freezer and et voilà ! dinner is sorted! Not only does making use of your freezer mean that you will always have healthy options available, but it also reduces food wastage and costs.
Here’s a list of my top 10 items to keep in your freezer:
1. Healthy Freezer-Friendly Meals
When you are short of time take out a meal, reheat and serve with freshly steamed vegetables or a salad. You can freeze left-overs, double your recipe or set aside a day to cook freezer-friendly meals to freeze for later. Soups, casseroles, stews and chillies are great options.
Banana, berries, mango, stone fruits, cherries, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, kiwi fruit, melons – frozen fruits are perfect for smoothies, nice-cream and baking. If freezing fresh fruit, start by washing, drying and cutting the fruit. Next, freeze on a baking tray before transferring to an airtight container or ziplock bag. Frozen fruits can be used straight from the freezer, however, if defrosting, place in a strainer over a bowl to allow the excess water to drain away. Have a read of my Smoothie Base Recipe for some ideas on which fruits and how much to use when making a smoothie. Along with my Healthy Banana and Raspberry Muffins.
There’s the traditional peas, beans, carrots and corn, however, you can freeze most vegetable. Washing, chopping blanching and drying the vegetables before freezing is ideal. Blanching involves dropping the vegetables into boiling hot water, then immediately into ice water, before drying and freezing. Freezing greens such as spinach and kale mean you will always have them on-hand to make Green Smoothies! Other useful options include broccoli, cauliflower, edamame, tomatoes, onion, Brussel sprouts, avocado. Generally frozen vegetables can be used straight from the freezer. However, like frozen fruits, if defrosting place in a strainer over a bowl to allow excess water to drain. Frozen veggies can be steamed, or added to any cooked dish.
4. Fresh Herbs
Rather than buying a bunch of herbs, using some, then throwing the rest out a few weeks later, try freezing them! Sturdy herbs such as ginger, turmeric, chillies, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, thyme and rosemary can be frozen in an airtight container. While soft herbs such as parsley, oregano, basil, coriander and dill can be chopped and frozen in ice cube trays in a little water or oil. This means you will always have herbs on hand as a tasty addition to meals. Have a read of my Turmeric Tonic recipe.
5. Stock and Bone Broth
Stock is a key flavouring agent in many recipes and can be added to soups, casseroles, sauces or drunk as it. It can also be used in place of water to cook your grains for a more flavoursome meal. I love making a large amount of stock in my slow cooker and freezing it for later. Check out my Chicken Stock recipe.
6. Cooked Grains and Beans
Grains and beans such as rice, quinoa, farro, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, all freeze and defrost well. Next time you cook some grains or beans, cook extra and pop them into the freezer for later. Beans can be added to salads, wraps and soups for a nutritious boost to your meal. While rice and grains can be used as a side, to make a quick and easy fried rice or as a base for your favourite salad. Here are a few recipes you could try – Spiced Lentil Soup, Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup and Roast Pumpkin and Quinoa Salad.
7. Lemon, Lime and Orange juice
Whenever citrus fruits are in season, buy extra and freeze the juice in ice cube trays. You can add the juice to salad dressings, hot drinks, or to any meal that requires a squeeze of citrus juice. Try my Lemon Chicken recipe and Mexican Sides for some recipes that use citrus juice.
8. Tomato Sauce
I prefer to use fresh tomatoes over canned. Whenever a find really ripe tomatoes at the fruit shop I buy several kilos and make a big batch of tomato sauce. I also throw in any veg I have that needs using up, along with a handful of herbs from the garden. I freeze the sauce in various sized jars, then defrost what I need to use in soups, casseroles, pasta sauces and homemade baked beans. Allow the sauce to cool before portioning and freezing in airtight containers.
9. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds can be expensive, however, they are cheaper when bought in bulk. Because of their high oil content, nuts and seeds can go rancid very quickly. Freezing them is a great way to keep them fresher for longer. Store them in an airtight container and take out a handful as you need them. This way you’ll always have a healthy snack on hand.
10. Roast chicken
You can store any meat, either cooked or raw, in the freezer. However, I nearly always have roast chicken in the freezer so I can grab out a portion for a super quick salad or soup. Chicken is so versatile, packed with protein and easy to cook -the ultimate timer saver.