One of the best ways that I know to make healthy foods for my family quickly, and be able to do so on a moments notice – is to utilize the freezer.
School gets out at 3 and soccer starts at 4 and runs until 7? Homework somewhere in there, and oh, by the way – I need a poster board and you have a conference call and Jimmy needs help with his reading? How will we have any dinner at all, much less one that is nutritious AND delicious?
Advance prep work will save you every time.
Case in point: I have several of the above bags in my freezer right now. When I buy fresh fruit, I take a few minutes to wash it and cut it into smaller pieces. Strawberries, blueberries, mango, banana, peaches and/or raspberries are all great choices. I fill an ice cube tray with vanilla yogurt and when it’s frozen, I stick 3-4 cubes into a baggie with an assortment of prepared fruit. Then I freeze the entire baggie. The next time I need a quick smoothie, I dump a bag into the blender, add protein powder and juice, and whiz it up. It makes a smoothie quickly and it’s a great breakfast or afternoon pick me up.
I often put two cut up chickens in the crock pot. I add a bit of water, some cut up onions and minced garlic, and cook on low. When the chicken is finished cooking, I pick the bones out and then put the chicken into baggies in the freezer. Tacos, taquitos, or quesidillas are a cinch.
I prepare several pounds of ground beef with onions and garlic. (There’s almost never a recipe that you make with ground beef that doesn’t require garlic and onions, right?) drain it and freeze it, and you’ve got the basics of spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, pastitsio, tacos – the list goes on and on. Literally – this tiny trick cuts dinner time prep in half – or more. I’ve even made the beginning of spaghetti sauce – brown the ground beef and sausage, add the onions, shredded carrots, garlic and spices, continue on with the worchestershire sauce and the red wine – all the way up until the tomato sauce. I’ve frozen that mixture before and it’s afforded me the opportunity to make sauce in literally 10 minutes.
Even when I make chimichangas – I double the filling and freeze half. The next time we have a craving for Mexican – it’s on the table in a flash.
There are recipe sites that offer meal plans that help you prepare an entire month’s worth of cooking for the freezer, with a minimum of money and quite often, a maximum of flavor.
Do you utilize your freezer when planning for your family meals? What are your favorite tips?