One of the issues that can crop up with eating more natural foods is that they go off faster than processed foods. For example, cookies can last for months in the cupboard whereas most fruit needs to be kept in the fridge and eaten within the week. You want to eat more fresh, healthy foods but you don’t want to waste food either. The solution is to learn to love your freezer.
I often get asked whether frozen fruit and vegetables are as nutritious as fresh. The short answer is yes! In fact, some of them are even healthier than their fresh counterparts. That’s because most have been frozen within a coupe of hours of being picked, locking in all the vitamins and minerals. You see, many nutrients start to break down as the fruit or vegetable ages. Fresh produce may have travelled for a week to get to the store, then sat on the shelf for several days, before being in your fridge for a while longer. By the time you eat it, it may have half the vitamins it started with. Frozen foods don’t have this problem.
Convenience is another reason to keep your freezer stocked. Need a quick supper? Add frozen prepared stir fry vegetables to some sliced chicken and top with a jar of stir fry sauce. Frozen vegetables are also a quick and versatile way to add one of your five a day to any meal. Got a take away curry without many veg? Microwave some frozen peas and chuck them in. Plus, keeping frozen vegetables in the house can be a real meal saviour when you get to the end of the week and start to run out of fresh veg (or they start to go off).
What’s more, frozen produce is often cheaper than buying fresh, especially if you fancy something that’s not in season. You can get fresh strawberries in December, but they will be expensive (over £8.00 per Kg) and have travelled a long distance. Choose frozen and you can enjoy British grown strawberries year-round for less than £5.50 per Kg* (though check the label for where they were grown). I love berries on my morning porridge, so my freezer is always stocked with a variety of berries. You can also get exotic fruits like mango or pineapple – great for smoothies!
Frozen fish is another good idea. Again, frozen fish is much cheaper and just as nutritious as fresh (of course, that assumes we are talking about plain fillets and not fish fingers or battered prawns!). Many people are not aware that, in the UK, most of the fish and seafood sold as “fresh” has actually been frozen then defrosted. Most fishing boats these days have processing facilities on board, so the fish can be filleted, packaged and frozen within a couple of hours of being caught. Fundamentally, you are paying more for the shop to defrost your fish for you! Unless you plan to cook that fish the same day, always check out the frozen fish options before the “fresh”.
What to take advantage of bulk prices but live alone? Buying larger packages of fresh meat and poultry then freezing them yourself is a classic money saving trick. A package of 4 pork loin steaks (540g) costs £3.00 but a package double the size, with 8 steaks is only £2.00 more*. Even though there are only two of us in the house, I regularly buy packets of 6 chicken breasts or 8 pork loin steaks. We then split the package and freeze individual portions of one or two pieces using small freezer bags. Most mornings, I’ll decide what we’ll be having for dinner that evening and pull my protein (fish, chicken, pork, etc.) out of the freezer to defrost while we’re at work.
Choosing more frozen foods can really cut down on food waste as well. Most of us plan to cook more often than we actually do. There is always one evening when life gets in the way and you either don’t have the time or energy to cook. Fresh meat or vegetables might go off if left an extra day or two in the fridge, but if you are using frozen ingredients, you can simply make that meal next week.
As far as I’m concerned, learning to love your freezer is essential for keeping healthy food to hand and saving money!
*All prices from the Tesco.com website and are correct as of 07/01/2020
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