Be prepared to fall in love with your freezer with these healthy hacks.
The hardest part about eating healthy is making sure you have healthy options on hand when it’s time to prepare meals. While the pantry can be handy for some foods (mac and cheese and cookies come to mind), the fridge is often where you store fresh produce and other groceries. ‘Use by’ and ‘best by’ dates on fresh foods can make healthy eating difficult, particularly when you’re shopping for one, but that’s where your freezer comes in. It will become your saving grace.
Not only can you use your freezer for storing the foods found in the freezer section of the grocery store, but you can also use it to preserve healthy favorites before they go bad. These are a few of my favorite freezer hacks that you can use in your college apartment or even the mini fridge of your dorm.
Find your freezer favorites.
What’s not to love about frozen fruits and vegetables?
Fruits and vegetables are the best thing to buy in the freezer aisle because they are picked at their nutritional peak and then frozen to preserve their nutrients. A few of my freezer favorites include frozen pomegranates, acai smoothie packs, green beans, white corn, and any frozen fruit mix. From smoothies to speedy dinner sides, freezers can be a lifesaver on nights you don’t have any veggies to add to your dinner.
While produce is my favorite thing to buy from the freezer aisle, frozen seafood like shrimp and salmon are a favorite because they are easy to defrost in seconds and are a lean protein option. Frozen rice packs are another easy way to ensure you have food to prep at anytime. The freezer aisle comes in #clutch during busy weeks where groceries are not abundance.
Shopping tip: As always, check the packaging on everything. Some foods may look healthy, but can be packed with unnecessary ingredients. Look for whole foods when shopping in the frozen food aisle, not overly processed foods being disguised as healthy.
Keep track of dates and freeze food before it goes bad.
Buying whole foods without preservatives and added ingredients means that they tend to expire sooner. No need to throw away your favorite foods, though – freeze ’em! You’d be surprised at how many of your favorite foods you can freeze. Breads, meat, soups, sauces, zoodles, cookie dough – you name it, you can probably freeze it.
Most ripe fruits and vegetables can be easily frozen by cutting them up and putting them in a freezer bag.
Freezing bananas at their peak of ripeness can ensure you always have something sweet and creamy for your go-to smoothie recipe. Love green smoothies but hate having to keep fresh spinach or kale? Easily freeze greens in a freezer bag to add to smoothies or stir-fry (cook only with frozen kale since spinach will be mushy).
Learn proper techniques for defrosting your freezer favorites.
Bread, pita, English muffins, and bagels all easily freeze and defrost after being microwaved for a few seconds. Chicken, pork, ground turkey, and beef are easy to freeze, but be sure to defrost safely to ensure you avoid any food-borne illnesses. I Google everything if I’m unsure on how to safely defrost it.
Here are a few food-safety tips to abide by when defrosting:
- Place whatever you’re thawing in the fridge the day before you want to eat it, unless you’re in a major rush.
- Avoid microwaving anything to defrost.
- Once you defrost something, eat it that day or save it in the fridge for under a week.
- Avoid re-freezing in most cases.
These are just a few of my favorite freezer hacks that help me eat healthy, even when I don’t have fresh groceries.
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