Healthy Cooking Essential for Great Budget-Friendly Meals: What’s in my Freezer?

This post is long overdue, so I am sorry for that, but finally here it is! Today I will be showing you what’s in my freezer and which food items I always store in there to prepare delicious healthy meals! For those of you who missed my previous posts about what’s in my food cupboard and fridge, you can find them here and here.
Freezers are often associated with lazy/busy cooks and unhealthy ready meals. Well, it is true to an extent and although freezing is the perfect storage method for those of us with a busy lifestyle or who sometimes are too lazy to cook, our freezers don’t necessarily have to be filled with “junk” food. If you know how to use a freezer properly, I promise it will become your best friend (that’s how much of a social life I have!).

There are mainly 5 groups of foods I always keep in the freezer: fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, bread and homemade meals. Let me tell you a bit more about them, in detail.

Fruit: Frozen fruit is a great way to get your 5-a-day, as it can be used in so many ways and you don’t have to worry about it getting too ripe. It can be used for smoothies, thawed and eaten by itself, to top breakfast cereals or porridge, for baking or mixed with some yogurt for a great snack. Sometimes I buy bags of frozen fruit from the supermarkets, as it can be cheaper than buying it fresh. This can be the case with berries or tropical fruit, especially if they are not in season. I found Tesco and Sainsbury’s both do good deals on bag of mixed frozen berries. In Sainsbury’s you can find a 400g bag of mixed berries for £1.70. Or, even better, I just came across this in Tesco yesterday:

18360555_10212976395583008_13792702_n

1kg of mixed berries for only £2.75. Not bad, hey? I don’t know if it’s just me, but sometimes I kind of enjoying buying “imperfect” food, poor imperfect food, so much discriminated, don’t worry you’re coming home with me, I’ve got a good use for you! Is it just me? Anyone? Anyways, another recent find from Tesco was this:

18424958_10212976415623509_72204513_nAt £1.50 per 350g (£4.29/kg) is a bit more expensive than the bag of frozen berries, but I couldn’t help it, I had to get it. It literally contains all of my favourite fruit: mango, pineapple, strawberry and peach. I had it this morning with my porridge, it was divine! It’s still a good deal, as most of the fruit in there would usually be more expensive if bought fresh. And it’s already peeled and cut, what more can I ask? 😉

Bags of frozen mangoes, can also be a good alternative, especially if you have other fruit at home that you can use together and want to make a great smoothie out if it! Or, if you would like to make some amazing mango salsa, like this one.

Talking about smoothies, I like to create my own smoothie bags. Whenever I find really cheap fresh fruit, I tend to buy quite a lot of it and then just peel it, cut it, combine it into different freezer bags and freeze. So, whenever I feel like a delicious and refreshing smoothie, I just get one bag out, put it in a blender with some milk or water and voila’, smoothie ready and zero effort! Ripe bananas are always in the list, as they create such a thick and creamy base for any smoothie and they are so cheap. But I like to add frozen kale or spinaches, for that extra vitamin boost!

Vegetables: All supermarkets have usually a great variety of cheap frozen vegetables to choose from. The cheaper bag of vegetables you can get is usually a mix of carrots, peas, cauliflowers and broccoli and it costs around 80-90p, depending on where you buy it from. Other frozen vegetables I always have around are spinaches, which I normally get from Iceland, as they are cheaper, but also broccoli, cauliflower, sweetcorn and mixed peppers. All of these vegetables could be bought fresh for a similar price, but usually you get a bit more in a frozen bag, plus you don’t have to worry about them going out of date and you know you are always stocked up.

I don’t normally buy fresh vegetables and freeze them, unless I see an amazing deal. But what I do, that helps me saving time and effort, is to buy a bag of onion, peel them and chop them in a food processor. Then, I just freeze them in a freezer bag and whenever I cook I already have freshly chopped onions ready to use! I do the same with fresh herbs, especially parsley and basil, which are my favourite. But you can also do it with garlic, ginger or chillies.

Meat and Fish: I buy my meat in bulks from MuscleFood and because I get £55 worth of meat all at once, including a huge bag of chicken breasts, I need to freeze most of it and use it over the course of the following weeks. All of the chicken breasts come into one big pack, so I open it and divide them into separate freezer bags into individual portions. I like to order chicken breasts, steaks, mince meat, burgers and sausages. They all freeze beautifully and are free-range and extra-lean. I seriously recommend checking out their website!

The two cheapest kinds of fish I like to freeze are cod and mussel meat. Sainsbury’s sells a very cheap 520g of white fish fillets for only £2, which is also great as a base to make homemade fish fingers. In Asda, I often buy a bag of frozen mussel meat, which is great to make seafood spaghetti! Recipe coming soon…

18360660_10212976623748712_1738331418_nAs for the other kinds of fish, salmon can also be found quite cheap frozen, definitely more budget friendly than fresh, although not quite as soft and flaky.

Bread and cakes: Following a gluten free diet can be expensive, especially if you are forced to substitute regular bread with gluten free alternatives. I try not to eat too much gluten free bread, but I like to have some to hand for emergency sandwiches or to dunk in my soups. I like to go to supermarkets in the evening, as a lot of the food items who expire that same day get reduced and I always find some good bargains, especially on gluten free items. I never really pay full price for a loaf of GF bread, I like to buy them reduced for about 60-70p and  then freeze them. Whenever I need bread, I just quickly warm it up in the oven or leave out to defrost for an hour.

Being a cake lover, I sometimes find myself with too many extra cakes, at which point I have no choice but to freeze them. I love having something I can treat myself to, always waiting for me in the freezer. I just warm it up in the oven and enjoy warm with a nice cup of tea!

Homemade ready meals: Least but not last, one of my favourite things to have in the freezer: homemade ready meals. Because we all have those lazy nights, when we just feel tired and cannot handle the thought of working in the kitchen making even more mess. So, what’s best than having a freshly prepared meal served to you with no effort involved? Whenever you have a bit of free time, cook big batches of your favourite meals and then just freeze into individual portions for you and your family. When it’s time to eat, just cook in the oven or on the hob, depending on what you are cooking. There is no need to defrost, just cook from frozen. This way, you won’t have to use unhealthy ready meals as an excuse for a quick dinner. Make your own and enjoy delicious lasagne, pies, soups and all of you favourite meals in no time!

What do you like to keep in your freezer? Do you have any tips to save money and time when it comes to food preparation? Let me know in the comments below!

Monica

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3 thoughts on “Healthy Cooking Essential for Great Budget-Friendly Meals: What’s in my Freezer?

  1. I always keep bread in the freezer – saves money especially when I never get through a whole loaf! I keep a few bags of veg and some chicken. I’ve also bought quite a few of the frozen sainsburys vegetarian range – their beetroot and goats cheese burgers are amazing! I don’t normally eat ready meals but I checked the ingredients in this range and they seem pretty fresh – easy for busy nights 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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