You know you need to be cooking at home to save money and eat healthier. But when you get home from a long day of classes, work, and studying, the last thing you want to do is whip up something from your Pinterest board. That’s where your freezer comes in. We’re not talking about frozen pizzas and burritos (the store-bought versions are often lacking nutrients and full of chemicals). Instead, you can shop and cook ahead, properly store leftovers, and turn your freezer into your own mini-convenience store. Here are five things that belong in your freezer and that can save you money in the kitchen.
- Sale Meats and Seafood
Next time you’re at the grocery store, look at the end of the aisles in the butcher section, or ask the employee at the corner for marked down meats. As long as you freeze it before the sell-by date, it will be fine to thaw and eat even a few months later.
If you know you like to just cook a few chicken breasts at a time, open up the package and wrap them individually in wax paper or plastic wrap, or in their own freezer bags.
Just remember to put it in the fridge to thaw the night before you plan to use it.
- Sides & Fillers
Next time you’re cooking up some rice, grains, or beans, double the recipe. You can even put a batch on the stove while you’re studying or watching TV one evening. Cook a big batch, and divide into serving sizes and freeze in plastic bags. At the begging if each week or day, pull out what you need and let it thaw in the fridge. It’ll be ready be the time you get home late, too starving to do anything but turn on the microwave.
This works for:
- Rice (Brown or White)
- Dried beans
- Any other favorite grain
If you’re making something that’s easy to freeze, make double, put half in some freezer bags, and you’ll thank yourself later. Try dishes like:
- Soups & Stews
- Pasta Sauce
- Braised meats
Make sure you let it cool before you put it in a bag. Lay it flat in the freezer until it’s frozen, then you can stack them up and out of the way. Don’t forget to label!
- Summer Fruit & Vegetable
Buy what’s on sale and stock up for more barren months. When you see a favorite like pineapple, berries, or zucchini hitting rock-bottom prices, buy a cart-ful. When you get home, cut it into whatever shapes you want (perfect for smoothies or baked goods) and put in freezer bags.
You can even get creative and make your own smoothie kits with yogurt, fruits, and vegetables, so you can put the whole thing in the blender in the morning.
- Don’t fear Frozen Vegetables
Did you know that frozen vegetables could actually be better for you than fresh? Frozen vegetables are packaged at the peak of freshness, so all year round ,you’re getting quality vegetables. Broccoli is perfect for throwing in with some pasta, or use spinach to bulk up a curry or one-pot rice dish. They also make stir-fries a breeze.
How do you take advantage of your freezer? It could become your new best kitchen friend.