Get the Skinny on Frozen Food
Frozen food may not necessarily be the first thing you think of when working on a new diet or planning out your family’s meals for the week.
But when healthy foods are frozen and handled properly, it could save you meal prep time without compromising nutritional value.
In fact, some frozen foods retain nutritional value more than canned goods.
Say goodbye to hours of cooking after a long day of work and taking care of the family, and hello to a week’s worth of easy, healthy meals.
Use this guide to become a frozen food expert on everything from what foods to freeze to keeping frozen food freshest.
Before youdive into freezing meals, be sure you have the right supplies to keep your food fresh:
- Parchment paper
- Plastic wrap
- Aluminum foil
- Freezer-safe Tupperware
- A marker and labels
As with anything you eat, it’s extremely important to prepare and handle frozen foods with care. Be sure to follow the following safety tips to avoid sickness:
- Wash your hands and prep tools
- Allow cooked foods to cool to room temperature (40 degrees) before freezing
- Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator
- Freeze only fresh food
- Don’t freeze old fruit (Bananas are an exception!)
- Always label and date your frozen goods
What Food to Freeze
Some foods stand the test of time much easier than others. Be sure that your food and ingredients are freezer compatible to avoid separation, flavor loss and freezer burn.
Raw fruits and vegetables
- Briefly boil vegetables before freezing
- Freeze at their peak freshness in freezer storage bags or freezer-friendly airtight containers
- Remove as much air as possible before freezing
- Frozen fruits and vegetables last in the freezer about 12 months to a year
- Meat needs to be triple wrapped to avoid exposure to the air
- First, wrap meat tightly in plastic wrap
- Wrap plastic wrapped meat in a layer of tin foil
- Place double wrapped meat in an airtight plastic storage bag
- Label and date meat
- Meat lasts about 3 months in the freezer
- Double wrap butter in plastic wrap and an airtight storage bag. Butter lasts about 6-9 months in the freezer
- Shred, slice or cube cheese before freezing. Freeze in an airtight bag and use before 3 months
- You can freeze yogurt in its plastic container for up to 2 months
- Avoid freezing raw dairy products such as milk, soft cheeses, and cream
Most cooked foods and meals can be frozen when treated properly,as long as they weren’t made from frozen ingredients in the first place.Casseroles, stews, and baked goodstypically pass the freezer test with flying colors.
Soups and stews
- Be sure all food is cooled to room temperature
- Use a large freezer safe storage bag
- Be sure to label the bag with the date
- Stack soup/stew bags on top of each other to save freezer space
- Store for no more than2-3 months
- Be sure all ingredients arefreezer-friendly
- If your casserole contains meat, be sure to cook it and let it cool fully before freezing
- Label with date, ingredients and instructions for cooking
- If you wish to save your baking pan for other uses, line the dish with one layer of foil and one of plastic wrap. Leave extra hanging over the edges to use later
- Freeze the casserole, and once it’s frozen remove it from the pan, wrapping the extra plastic wrap on the sides tightly around the frozen casserole
- Save money and time by freezing store bought loaves of bread and baked goods or loaves made from scratch
- Cool baked items completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and a plastic airtight bag
- Baked goods keep in the freezer for up to 3 months
Now that you’re a frozen food pro, you’re ready to prep some freezer friendly meals for the week! Start off by trying these delicious and healthy black bean burgers.
- 1/2 tsp coconut oil
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 cup quinoa flour
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/8 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 jalapenos (sliced lengthwise)
- 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
- 2 chopped carrots
- 1/2 sliced red onion
- 2 14 oz can drained black beans
How to make it:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- While oven is heating, put onion, bell pepper, jalapeños, carrots and cilantro in a food processor and blend on high for 2-3 minutes.
- Add all spices, flours, and black beans, and ground flaxseed and blend another 2-3 minutes.
- Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl.
- Form mixture into patties, 1/8th inch thick and 3-4 inches wide.
- Add flour to thicken if the mixture is too watery to turn into patties.
- Melt coconut oil on a medium sized skillet on medium heat.
- Cook burgers for 8 minutes on each side.
- Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes.
Congratulations, you’ve got all the knowledge you need to save your future self some time and headache. You deserve a reward. Craving some frozen treats?Try this fantastic peach melba>