How can you cook healthy meals in a hurry this summer? Have a well-stocked freezer.
Spending a few hours one weekend a month cooking favorites, such as spaghetti sauce, bread and even rice and pasta, can make dinner prep so easy during busy weeks. It also helps you save money and avoid throwing away food that goes bad.
“You can cook chicken breasts or steaks and then freeze them in plastic baggies,” says Tara Todd, RD, LD, registered dietitian at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Use the cooked meat to top salads or pasta dishes.”
Dry beans, which are much cheaper than canned, can be soaked overnight and cooked for a few hours on a weekend. Freeze them in one-cup portions to use in burritos or on top of salads, or to make healthy dips for snacking. If fresh berries are about to spoil, toss them in the freezer. Later, you can add them to Greek or frozen yogurt for a nutritious dessert.
Avoid the Burn
When freezing any food, store individual servings in tightly sealed freezer bags. Write the date and reheating instructions on each bag. When you’re ready to use those foods, thaw ingredients in the refrigerator—not on the kitchen counter.
“Freezing ingredients does take some planning,” Todd says. “But it can keep you out of the drive-thru and save you money.”
Want more tips about nutrition and healthy eating? Download our “Nutrition and Healthy Habits” brochure.