Stocking Your Kitchen Part 3: The Healthy Freezer!
By Gillian Farren
For healthy meals in minutes, pack your freezer with nutrient-rich frozen foods. Frozen foods are often cheaper than their fresh alternatives, and because of their packaging, they are often less wasteful because you can take only the amount you need, leaving the rest for another occasion.
The freezer can also be very useful to prolong the life of fresh food (such as bread, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and fruit), and freezing these foods in smaller batches can mean that bulk-buying becomes even better value. Liquids and finely sliced foods will both freeze and defrost more quickly if stored in thin layers; polythene bags (especially with a zipped closure) are very useful for this.
Contrary to what many people may believe, shop-bought, ready-frozen foods can offer even better health benefits than their fresh equivalents, as frozen-food suppliers are tightly regulated on their manufacturing processes and have to maintain high quality standards. Some frozen foods offer healthier choices than others. Read labels and look for foods with reduced sodium, fat and sugar. Shop for basic, healthy frozen foods that can help you make simple, delicious meals such as:
- Speedy stir-fry: Cook thin strips of fresh or frozen chicken, fish, lean beef, quorn or tofu (steamed, baked or stir-fried with your choice of spices or a pre-mixed, salt-free spice blend). Steam frozen Asian veggies or sauté in a little olive oil and again with spices of your choice – sometimes it’s nice to use a different set of spices to those you used with your meat or fish ingredient. Combine and serve over brown rice for a quick and healthy meal. Add a little reduced-salt soy sauce for more flavour.
- Pasta with passion: A combination of frozen grilled vegetables and frozen spinach and ricotta tortellini, boiled and then tossed in a zesty tomato sauce (you could use a frozen batch of passata), makes a simple yet sophisticated meal.
- Divine dessert: Slightly thawed frozen raspberries on top of low fat, Greek-style vanilla yogurt makes for a delectable dessert or snack.
- Breakfast boost: Add frozen blueberries or sliced bananas to wholemeal muffins, porridge or pancakes for a burst of flavour.
Foods for your freezer:
- Vegetables: Along with peas and corn, try frozen leafy greens such as spinach, kale or mixed Asian vegetables. Frozen is just as nutritious as fresh!
- Fruit: Frozen peaches, mangos and berries make quick smoothies for tasty, healthy breakfasts and snacks on the go.
- Fish: Keeping plain, unbreaded fish fillets such as salmon, trout or Arctic char in the freezer makes it easy to enjoy fish at least twice a week.
- Meat and poultry: Freeze small amounts of nutrient-rich fresh cuts of red meat (beef, pork or lamb), turkey and chicken for faster defrosting.
- Pasta: Plain cheese ravioli, topped with tomato sauce and served with a leafy green salad, makes an easy mid-week meal.
More flavour from your freezer:
Freeze small amounts of shredded Parmesan cheese, chopped nuts, left-over wine and chopped fresh herbs – ice-cube trays are ideal for this. Add them to meals during preparation for a quick additional burst of flavour.
Check back next week for Stocking Your Kitchen Part 4: The Healthy Store Cupboard!