It’s probably safe to say that most people want to be healthy. They want to eat healthy, live healthy, and feel healthy. Despite this overwhelming desire, most don’t actually live up to their potential when it comes to planning and preparing healthy meals.
Think about the typical weekly mealtime routine of many, many people: wing it for breakfast and rely on take-out for either lunch, dinner, or possibly both.
Why is this the case? Some say there’s not enough time, others say it’s too hard, but the reality is more likely a failure to plan.
So today, let’s upgrade your freezer and make sure you always have healthy food available! In this article, we’re going to talk about why and how your freezer should be your best friend in optimizing your meal planning (and prepping) efforts.
Let’s first differentiate the difference between meal planning and meal prepping. Meal planning is the process in which you decide what meals you’re having on what day (e.g. Monday: turkey burger with roasted potatoes and salad, Tuesday: salmon with basmati rice and spinach). Meal prepping is the process of actually cooking and preparing those meals (e.g. you spend a few hours on Sunday cooking to set yourself up for the week). Now that we’ve established the basics, let’s get to your freezer…
Your freezer is by far the best and most under-utilized aspect of the kitchen. Where else can you store the components of a healthy meal for months without spoilage? Healthy meals should always incorporate high-quality protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates (think vegetables, grains, etc.). With the exception of healthy fats (they’re usually on your countertop or in the fridge) we can stock your freezer with high-quality protein and complex carbohydrates to ensure you always have nutrient-dense food available to plan and prepare healthy meals.
While frozen vegetables typically get a bad rap, the truth is, they actually can be more nutritious than their fresh, grocery store counterparts! Frozen vegetables are typically picked at the height of their ripeness when they’re bursting with vitamins and minerals (1). The process of flash freezing locks in those precious nutrients and halts the process of enzyme activity that begins to break down (and spoil) food. Frozen fruits and vegetables are superior nutritionally to those that are canned because the canning process tends to result in nutrient loss (2).
When it comes to protein, there are some great services out there that ship high-quality frozen meat and wild-caught fish, but you can also ask your local butcher or fishmonger to pack up your protein to go straight to the freezer. The benefit of having frozen protein, again, is the fact that it won’t spoil for quite some time and you’ll always have this meal staple available. The one potential downside of frozen protein is the time it takes for said protein to defrost, but that’s where a weekly plan comes in handy (or an instant pot to cook from frozen!).
The best way to start your meal planning efforts is to be organized! Take inventory of what you have in the house, write it down, and match up days to meals. Going back to the example above where we have a turkey burger on Monday and salmon on Tuesday, all you’d need to do is take both out on Sunday to ensure they’re defrosted and ready for cooking on their respective days. You’ll never have to defrost frozen vegetables, so they’ll be ready when you need them.
I hope you see how valuable your freezer could be in creating healthy meals on a regular basis. The truth is, you can only be as healthy as your kitchen allows, so prioritizing healthy meal-time staples is a really important first step!
- Munoz, Kissairis. “Frozen vs. Fresh Vegetables: Which Is Healthier?” Dr. Axe, 14 June 2021, draxe.com/nutrition/frozen-vs-fresh-vegetables/.
- “Are Frozen Vegetables Healthy? – Ask Dr. Weil.” DrWeil.com, 3 Dec. 2016, www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/nutrition/are-frozen-vegetables-healthy/.