Summer has come and gone here in Southeastern Wisconsin. Was hoping for a few surprise 80 degree days here in October but it looks like that is not going to happen. With the change of seasons, comes an adjustment in eating patterns as it pertains to the fresh vegetables and fruits that are available from local farmers.
The stocking of my freezer definitely becomes much more critical as winter nears.
Here are the 7 staples that can be found in my freezer right now, that will help any busy mom (or dad) with some quick, easy whole food meal preparations:
1. Sprouted Pizza Dough Crusts – Angelic Bakehouse offers a delicious, tasty, nutritious alternative to the standard American diet white flour pizza crust. You can buy “Flattzas” in a package of 5 personal size pizza crusts – perfect for the family to each create their own concoction. In a 420 degree oven, they bake up crisp after 10-12 minutes. Top with your favorite pizza sauce (at our house it’s Muir Glen Organic), veggies (for fall it may be grated sweet potato, shaved brussell sprouts, and kale) and cheese (organic if possible). In less than 20 minutes, you can have a tasty dinner on the table that everyone will love!
2. Frozen Fish – Salmon, whitefish, and ? are the favorites at our house. Costco sells wild, frozen fish at reasonable prices or visit your local fish market to buy fresh and freeze on your own. Try to move your frozen fillets from the freezer to fridge the night before you are going to cook them. If you forget, do it first thing in the morning knowing they may not be fully thawed by dinner prep time (will depend on the size and thickness).
3. Frozen Fruit – The summer brings a wealth of beautiful fruits to market. Take time to wash and prep some of those sweet treats and freeze them for winter to use in smoothies, sauces, or salad dressings. For example, wash and de-stem strawberries or wash and de-pit and slice peaches, or chop watermelon/cantaloupe/any summer melon and freeze your fruits in 1 cup serving sizes for smoothie or sauce preparation. You can wash, dry and freeze berries of any type and bananas that are going bad can be peeled, sliced and frozen as well. Cherries are another favorite that pit and freeze well. Not so prepared? Costco offers large bags of organic, frozen fruits in a a couple different varieties (list) at reasonable cost.
4. Chicken Tenders – A great philosophy to follow in the kitchen is cook once, eat twice (or three times or more)! When preparing fresh, breaded chicken tenders at home, make lots of extras. You can freeze them already breaded so they are completely ready to go at a moments notice. Try to use organic chicken and follow a healthy “breading” recipe like this one from Danielle Walker.
5. Frozen Veggies – At the end of summer it’s a great idea to make pestos and sauces with the vegetables (and spices) that were fresh and available during the summer months. This year I made roasted red pepper/garlic sauce, homemade spaghetti sauce, basil and parsley pestos, and ?. Simple and quick to thaw and use and I’m happy knowing it’s all organic, and no bad fats, preservatives or additives. Makes great gift ideas during the holidays too if you have extra. For back-up, Costco offers a nice variety of frozen organic veggies including broccoli, beans, peas and corn.
6. Leftover Soups/Chilis – Batch cooking is a concept that can change your life and help your family eat healthier with less time and on a budget. When you prepare a soup or chili recipe that your family loves, double or triple it and freeze the extra. Maybe under cook the freezer batches by 10 minutes to avoid mushiness when freezing/thawing. Leave out the creams, pasta, eggs, rice and greens if a recipe calls for those. Add fresh spices or leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or bok choy, when you are reheating your thawed base. Quinoa and brown/black rice can be cooked and added at reheating time as well. Another tip is to freeze your soups in sizes that are most useful for your family – if you are a family of 3, freeze in smaller containers. A family of 6 will need to thaw larger amounts at one time.
7. Frozen Burgers – What busy family on the go does not like a good burger now and again?! Make your freezer home to some tasty, healthy, homemade burgers. Try variations of chicken, turkey, mushroom and black bean burgers. Add a few onions and a blend of your favorited chopped veggies or finely chopped spices or spinach. Thaw, cook and top with a favorite pesto, sauce, cheese or fried egg. One of my favorite black bean burger recipes, from Dishing up the Dirt, can be found here. And remember the idea of batch cooking (see #4 & #6 above).
Make your freezer your friend!
Would love hearing what family favorites are stored in your fridge – feel free to comment and share.
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Until next time – be well my friends.