Make your freezer your weight loss friend
If you’re anything like me, you grew up with what I call a “freezer mom”. Season after season, year after year, there was nothing too big (entire batches of soup) or too small (three sprigs of dill and a lone celery stalk) that didn’t make its way into our freezer. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I fully understood the method to her madness: With a well-stocked freezer, a healthy and satisfying meal is only a few steps—and a quick thaw—away.
Your freezer can also be your best friend when you’re following Food Optimizing, Slimming World’s healthy eating plan. Food Optimizing-friendly meals are made with veggies, lean meat and grains—all prime freezer foods, and all Free Food at Slimming World, too. Below are my favorite tricks for freezing your way to an easier week, while following Food Optimizing and losing weight.
It can be tempting to use your freezer as a catch-all, so keep yours stocked with things you’ll actually use. Frozen vegetables like peas, butternut squash, and kale come cleaned, cut, and ready to use, making getting healthy, filling meals on the table a whole lot easier. Having lean ground meat on hand to turn into pasta sauces, meatballs, or shepherd’s pie is always a good idea: Buy more of it than you need and freeze it into one-pound portions for dinners down the line. You can also freeze entire meals (think stews, pasta bakes, and stuffed peppers) and leftover ingredients like tomato paste, chicken broth, and chopped veggies for future soups, stocks, and stir-fries.
If you’re using resealable plastic freezer bags, be sure to squeeze out any excess air before sealing. These, as well as airtight containers, will help reduce the chance of freezer burn (more on that below). If you’re freezing whole meals, wrap them in a double layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of foil. You can freeze broth and tomato paste in ice cube trays, then transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag when solid, making it easy to grab just the amount you need. No matter what you’re freezing, label the container or bag with what it is and the date you made and froze it.
Use it (or toss it)
Frozen food will begin to show signs of freezer burn—the drying out of food due to air exposure—over time. While this won’t make you sick, it might not taste very good, so check food for ice crystals or dry, brown spots before using and toss anything that feels off. You can keep frozen ground meat and leftovers for about three months; chicken, steaks, and roasts for around nine months, and frozen vegetables for close to a year. It’s a good idea to thaw and drain frozen veggies before cooking them, as they contain more water than fresh produce; do this in the fridge or by using the defrost function on your microwave. Be sure to give frozen greens like spinach and kale a good squeeze after thawing as they hold water particularly well.