Although eating fresh, locally-sourced food is the gold standard when it comes to eating well, an important part of remaining consistent with healthy eating all year-round, is knowing how to get the most from the support systems in your kitchen. One very important supporting tool: your freezer.
When quality meals are stocked and used within 3-4 months, there’s no need to worry that they’re not nutritious coming from the freezer.
Six great examples of meals that can made in advance, frozen and easily thawed on busy weeknights:
- Meat Balls or Lentil Balls (Recipe: http://www.lentils.org/recipe/spiced-beef-and-lentil-meatballs/ ) – cook, freeze and then simply toss into a tomato sauce, sweet and sour dish or soup.
- Hearty Soups – include pulses like chickpeas or dried beans for protein along with lots of vegetables. Find great soup recipes at lentils.org and pulsecanada.com.
- Vegetable Lasagna – whether using ground meat or going meatless in your lasagna, layer in lots of vegetables. Thinly sliced zucchini strips are an awesome substitute or add-in for regular lasagna noodles – and they’re local and in-season right now.
- Fish cakes – easy to make by combining eggs, breadcrumbs (regular or GF) and seasonings with canned salmon, tuna or crab made into patties
- Pancakes – make in bulk, layer with wax paper and freeze
- Mexican Casserole – make burritos, layer in a casserole covered with tomato sauce and a sprinkle of cheese
5 Super Nutritious Items to have on hand in the freezer for easy meal boosts:
- Nutritional Yeast – sprinkle on any cooked dish, soups, salads. It adds a slightly cheese-y flavour and lots of vitamin B12. Great for everyone, but especially for those eating fewer animal foods which are traditionally the best source of B12.
- Vegetables – frozen peas and Brussels sprouts are two faves that come close to the taste and texture of fresh
- Nuts and seeds – for quick sprinkling on salads for added protein, fibre and minerals
- Fish fillets (unbreaded) – the ultimate quick meal when simply oven roasted with vegetables
- Frozen pulses – chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans – even faster than opening a can, rinsing and draining
And, 3 overall tips for making the back-to-school routine healthier and easier:
- Get consistent again with good quality vitamins. Important all year-round is vitamin D (a must for all adults over 50), especially since we won’t be in the sun as much come fall and winter. A good multivitamin, omega-3 and potentially also a pro-biotic can also be very helpful for many people. The Essentials vitamins by Jamieson are a high quality, Canadian-made line. Be sure to discuss your individual needs with your dietitian before taking supplements.
- Pack lunches the night before – when cleaning up from dinner, quickly putting lunches together is a lifesaver come the next morning.
- Shop for vegetables at least twice each week to make it consistently possible to plan meals with vegetables as the central focus.
Wishing you a very smooth, healthy transition back into the fall schedule!
Thank you CTV Morning Live for the opportunity to share these ideas!