Once again, I’ve been AWOL. But I have to tell you that my summer has been pretty spectacular. Rob bought us a couple of kayaks, and we’ve been out using them nearly every weekend since July. Exploring the lakes near our home has been such a treat.
I’ve been working on my garden and yard daily. The extremely hot weather made gardening more challenging this year. But today, my tomato and pepper game is pretty strong.
Every year when my garden is producing vegetables at a rapid rate, I try to figure out how I can save every item that I don’t give to my mom or neighbors. If you know me, you will know that nothing goes to waste at my house, nothing!
I rely heavily on my freezer year-round. September is a great time to clean everything out and start preparing for the Winter months.
I’m currently working with a client who wants to get better about meal planning and meal prepping. So, between my need to save all my vegetables and my client wanting more information on the topic of meal planning, I am bringing you this blog.
My advice to you is to freeze everything you can. You will thank me later.
Using Your Freezer To Make Meal Prep Easy
It’s probably safe to say that most people want to be healthy. They want to eat healthy, live healthy and feel healthy. Yet, despite this overwhelming desire, most don’t actually live up to their potential when it comes to planning and preparing healthy meals.
Think about the typical weekly mealtime routine of many people: wing it for breakfast and rely on take-out for lunch, dinner, or possibly both.
Why is this the case? Some say there’s not enough time; others say it’s too hard, but the reality is more likely a failure to plan.
So today, let’s upgrade your freezer and make sure you always have healthy food available! In this article, we’re going to talk about why and how your freezer should be your best friend in optimizing your meal planning (and prepping) efforts.
Let’s first differentiate the difference between meal planning and meal prepping. Meal planning is the process in which you decide what meals you’re having on what day (e.g., Monday: turkey burger with roasted potatoes and salad, Tuesday: salmon with basmati rice and spinach). Meal prepping is the process of actually cooking and preparing those meals (e.g., you spend a few hours on Sunday cooking to set yourself up for the week). Now that we’ve established the basics, let’s get to your freezer.
Your freezer is by far the best and most under-utilized aspect of the kitchen. Where else can you store the components of a healthy meal for months without spoilage? Healthy meals should always incorporate high-quality protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates (think vegetables, grains, etc.). With the exception of healthy fats (they’re usually on your countertop or in the fridge), we can stock your freezer with high-quality protein and complex carbohydrates to ensure you always have nutrient-dense food available to plan and prepare healthy meals.
While frozen vegetables typically get a bad rap, the truth is, they actually can be more nutritious than their fresh, grocery store counterparts. Frozen vegetables are usually picked at the height of their ripeness when they’re bursting with vitamins and minerals1. The process of flash freezing locks in those precious nutrients and halts the process of enzyme activity that begins to break down (and spoil) food. Frozen fruits and vegetables are superior nutritionally to those that are canned because the canning process tends to result in nutrient loss2.
When it comes to protein, there are some excellent services out there that ship high-quality frozen meat and wild-caught fish, but you can also ask your local butcher or fishmonger to pack up your protein to go straight to the freezer. The benefit of having frozen protein, again, is the fact that it won’t spoil for quite some time, and you’ll always have this meal staple available. The one potential downside of frozen protein is the time it takes for said protein to defrost, but that’s where a weekly plan comes in handy (or an instant pot to cook from frozen).
The best way to start your meal planning efforts is to be organized. Take inventory of what you have in the house, write it down, and match up days to meals. Going back to the example above, where we have a turkey burger on Monday and salmon on Tuesday, all you’d need to do is take both out on Sunday to ensure they’re defrosted and ready for cooking on their respective days. You’ll never have to defrost frozen vegetables, so they’ll be ready when you need them.
I hope you see how valuable your freezer could be in creating healthy meals on a regular basis. The truth is, you can only be as healthy as your kitchen allows, so prioritizing healthy mealtime staples is an essential first step.
As always, reach out if you have any questions.
1. Munoz, Kissairis. “Frozen vs. Fresh Vegetables: Which Is Healthier?” Dr. Axe, 14 June 2021, draxe.com/nutrition/frozen-vs-fresh-vegetables/.
2. “Are Frozen Vegetables Healthy? – Ask Dr. Weil.” DrWeil.com, 3 Dec. 2016, www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/nutrition/are-frozen-vegetables-healthy/.