Make friends with your freezer with our clever tips and you will have lots of recipes for healthy food and 30 minutes meals. Save time, money and your sanity!
We all need quick dinner recipes and 30 minute meals are at the top of the list. However, we also want nutritious, tasty, low-cal, low-carb meals…NOW! Does this sound familiar? And as much as we all love the idea of a homemade beef stew or a luscious homemade meatball recipe, more often than not, there just is not the time to produce that kind of food after we have rushed in from work, school or ferrying the kids.
However, make friends with your freezer and this, in fact, does become possible.
Freeze Batches of Fried Onion
When you have a chance, chop a whole load of onions. I often do 12 large onions at a time. Pour a little oil into a large pot and fry the onions until they soften and take on a deep caramel color. You may find it easier to do this in two pots. Cool the onions and then transfer equal quantities to freezer containers. I would transfer the equivalent of one to two onions to each container. Label each container and then freeze.
Now you are able to have some fun. You want to make one of those best ground beef recipes? No problem. You are already half way there. Whilst your meat is browning, simply defrost the onions and then add them along with the other ingredients. You have the beginning of Chili con carne, a Beef and Noodle Casserole or a Ground Beef Goulash.
Freeze Breadcrumbs and Egg Whites
No, I have not lost the plot! If you have leftover bread crumbs, simply pop them in a freezer container, mark them and freeze them. Next time you want to whiz up meatballs or crumb a piece of fish, the work has been done for you already.
The same applies to egg whites. They freeze very well for a couple of months. Put the leftover egg whites into a container and mark HOW MANY THERE ARE ie “3 egg whites.” Next time you feel inspired to whip up meringues or need egg white for an icing recipe, all you have to do is defrost them on low in the microwave and you’re set.
Freeze Batches of a Basic Bechamel Sauce Recipe
Make a large batch of your favorite Bechamel Sauce Recipe. I often do triple the usual quantity. Again, decant into freezer containers and mark. You now have the basis for a whole range of dishes, from your best baked macaroni cheese recipe to baked fish in a sauce. You can add simple ingredients to make a pasta sauce or you could add the Bechamel sauce to a Lasagna or Moussaka. But the key thing is, that part of the work has already been done, thereby making it completely viable to have a nutritious meal on the table in a relatively quick time.
Double Up Your Recipes
This almost seems a no brainer but it is worth being reminded. If you are going to make one batch of your favorite Beef Curry Recipe, make two – one for now, and one for the freezer. Apply the same rule to any stews, simple ground beef recipes and even chicken casseroles. Most of these dishes are good natured and will freeze well. I love nothing more than being able to haul out a nutritious meal from the freezer on those stressed-out days. Moreover, I know that there are no preservatives, additives and colorants in the food that I have frozen. Plus, my freezer meal has cost nothing like the supermarket equivalent and always tastes better.
Organize Your Freezer
Try to be disciplined as to how you pack your freezer. Try to put ready-made meals on the same shelf or in the same drawer. Similarly, frozen raw ingredients should go together. Put “little bits” together – egg whites, chopped frozen fresh herbs, leftover sauces and so on.
A particularly helpful shelf in our freezer is the LUNCH BOX shelf. In this drawer there are all makings for healthy lunchboxes. There is leftover chicken, frozen in between layers of waxed paper. There are cooked burgers or ham. There are wraps, croissants, or muffins. This means that when we make lunchboxes at night it is easy for the whole family to get involved and hone in on the correct drawer. It seems to simplify things and is certainly cheaper than take-out food.
Organize Your Freezer Labels, Pens etc
Have a set place in your kitchen where you keep your freezer containers. Stack them logically according to size and use. Nearby, have a drawer that keeps your freezer labels, marking pens, plastic bags, waxed paper and freezer tags. This means that that it not an onerous task popping a label onto your container and you will never wonder what that mysterious frozen lump in the freezer is again!
So, just as you take charge of certain areas of your life, take charge of your freezer! Producing easy healthy recipes will suddenly become a pleasure. With a little bit of thought and simple meal planning, you can save time, money and your sanity!
Fiona Lesley – easy-meal-planning
Photo. Niek Verlaan