- Frozen vegetables are easy to cook with (and better than you think)
- 40+ ways with frozen vegies: Peas, spinach, corn, broccoli and more
In our busy lives, a well-stocked freezer can be our best friend. Whether it is to keep meals on hand when you don't have time to cook or a supply of vegies so you are never caught short there are many ways to utilise a freezer to help optimise your nutrient intake and keep your energy intake under control.
It's also helpful to know that contrary to popular belief, frozen foods can actually be higher in nutrient value than fresh foods that have not been cooked and stored correctly. So if you would like to use your freezer space a little more effectively, here's a guide to the foods you need on hand in your own freezer.
Berries and overripe bananas
When fresh fruit is in season, there is nothing better than finding delicious, freshly picked options at a good price but this is not always the case. For produce such as berries, for which there are large seasonal fluctuations in pricing and availability it makes sense to keep a supply of frozen varieties on hand to utilise in smoothies, baked goods and desserts. You can also stock up when supply is high, seal and then freeze yourself so you have access to a supply after the season ends.
Another simple trick is to freeze any overripe bananas you have at home, as they can then be used as a natural sweet addition in baking and smoothies.
Opt for Australian produce where possible. Photo: iStock
When it comes to price, ease and nutrient content, you can't go past frozen vegies. Snap frozen at the time of harvest, frozen vegetables actually have a higher concentration of some nutrients than fresh varieties that have been stored and transported for many weeks, if not months. Opt for Australian produce where possible and keep a range of quick-cook veg options to add to any meal.
Whether you make your own, or freeze fresh varieties, having stock on hand means you can always prepare a tasty casserole or soup with minimal ingredients. It also means that any leftover stock can be frozen and used at a later date, helping to reduce food waste.
Family-friendly meals such as Helen Goh's roasted broccoli, chilli and ricotta cake are good for freezing. Photo: William Meppem
In our busy lives, it makes sense to maximise output when you take the time to prepare a substantial meal. Cooking once but eating twice lends itself to freezing family-friendly meals such as quiches, pies, soups and pastas so that you always have a meal or two ready to go when you get home late and can't be bothered cooking. The key is to also have a decent supply of individual portioned, storage containers so you can easily grab one meal at a time as you need.
How often do you get home late from work, realise there's nothing in the fridge and end up ordering home delivery that can cost more than $50-$60 to feed the family for generally high-fat, processed fast food? A much better option nutritionally and from a cost perspective to keep a few frozen meals handy. There is a growing range of calorie controlled, snap frozen ready to go breakfasts, smoothie mixes, meals and salad bowls to cater for any family member an any meal for a fraction of the cost and calories of take away or meal delivery.
Use filo pastry to make Neil Perry's Moroccan-style chicken pie. Photo: William Meppem
There are many different types of pastry, and while some are high in fat, filo pastry is relatively light, so can be used to make delicious pies and desserts. It's a simple freezer staple that will make meal prep much easier when you keep a supply on hand.
Another major growth area in supermarkets is in the range of healthy dessert options – sorbets, fruit, yoghurt and soy blends that offer all the sweetness and enjoyment of higher fat cakes, pastries and ice-cream with far fewer kilojoules and much less fat and sugar. You can also save yourself the expense of buying individual ice-creams and blocks of chocolates while still giving the family a healthier, sweet treat.
Susie Burrell is a nutritionist and dietitian.