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Freezer Friendly Meals for Busy People on the Go

By Jamie Miller, Village Health Clubs Dietitian

The phrase “preparation is the key to success” may be overstated, but it is for a reason- especially when it comes to eating healthy. With our busy lives, thinking ahead is crucial to ensure we are equipped with nourish food. Village dietitian, Jamie Miller, has a few important tips to use your freezer to get ahead on healthy choices.

Why Make A Little When You Can Make a Lot

Use your precious time wisely- it takes hardly any more time to prep a double batch of something to put in the freezer than to just cook a regular amount . So if you are making stew, grilling chicken, or making a breakfast sandwich or burrito, go ahead and make extra to add to your freezer stash. One of Jamie’s favorite tips is to make “all purpose chicken”- this is when you cook and cube up a large amount of the lean protein and freeze for later. You can defrost a bag as needed to toss onto salads when you have no protein prepped fresh in the fridge, or to use quick in a casserole, etc. 

Think Outside the Box

More things are freezer friendly than the obvious soups and stews. For breakfast, try prepping smoothie packs, oatmeal cups, or protein pancakes or waffles. For easy lunches, try freezing individual portions of curry or casserole dishes to have a nourishing lunch on demand. And for dinner, meatballs, burger patties, meatloaf, and precooked proteins can make supper quick and easy. Individual items like shredded cheese, guacamole cups, and bread items like pita or tortillas can be great to keep on hand to create meals easily.

Label Things Well

Before placing something in the freezer, be sure to label what it is and the date it was made so you don’t end up with a “mystery container” of soup. It also can be helpful to label the amount of the item for reference, such as “4 servings of chili”.

 

Check out these recipes to cook up in advance and add to your freezer  for a busy time!

Freezer Healthy Breakfast Sandwich

Egg Mixture

  • 5 large eggs
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil 
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 (8 oz) package sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped or ⅓  cup frozen spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Breakfast sandwich

  • 6 whole wheat english muffins, split 
  • 6 turkey slices, canadian bacon, or turkey sausage patty 
  • 6 slices cheddar cheese optional (I used Sargento 45 calorie slices)

Preheat oven to 375 F and grease a 9×13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, salt and pepper, and set aside. Heat oil in a large non stick pan over medium heat, and add in onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add in broccoli, mushrooms, and spinach and cook for another 5 minutes, or until veggies are tender. Add in garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Pour vegetable mixture into the egg mixture and stir, then pour that mixture into the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the eggs have fully cooked through. Use a glass (or some sort of circle cutter) to cut eggs into a circle the size of your english muffins. To assemble the sandwiches, first toast your split english muffins, then place one slice of breakfast meat and slice of cheese on one side of the english muffin. Then top with a circle egg slice. Place the top english muffin on top, and let cool completely. When cooled, wrap tightly with seran wrap or aluminium foil, then place into a freezer bag Place in the freezer for 3-6 months. When ready to eat, unwrap from seran or foil wrap place in the microwave on a plate lined with a paper towel for 60 seconds or until heated through 

Oatmeal Cookie Bites

  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats 
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (can make own by grinding oats in food processor or coffee grinder)
  • ¼  cup ground flaxseed
  • ½ cup collagen peptides (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or other nut/seed of choice
  • ½  cup dark chocolate chips, cocoa nibs, or dried fruit
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 medium overripe bananas, peeled and mashed (must be ripe in order to add sweetness)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp agave, maple syrup, coconut nectar/syrup, honey, or other liquid sweetener of choice
  • 4 tbsp almond milk or other milk of choice

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl—oats, oat flour, ground flaxseed, collagen peptides if using for added protein, walnuts, chocolate chips, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

 

In a separate bowl, mash bananas until liquidy, then add vanilla, coconut oil, sweetener of choice, and milk until well blended. Let mixture rest for 4–5 minutes, giving time for flax to bind everything together. If your dough has gotten too thick, stir in an additional 1–2 tablespoons milk before scooping out onto your baking sheet.

 

Measure dough out by the scant ¼ cupful and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or lightly greased). The cookies do not spread on their own, so press them a bit with your hand or a flat bottomed glass to flatten a bit. Bake for 15–18 minutes, or until cookies are lightly golden around the edges. Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool room or refrigerator for 2–3 days or freeze for 6 months.

Beef Stew Freezer Pack

With a little freezer-friendly meal prep, a warm and comforting Beef Stew dinner can be on the table with no effort at all. Just place the prepared contents from the bag into your instant pot or slow cooker and a busy family will be able to enjoy a balanced, satisfying dinner!

 

In a Freezer Gallon Ziploc:

  • 2 lbs. beef chuck, fat trimmed, cut in 1.5 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 6 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
  • 6 carrots, sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 2 cans tomato juice (about 1 cup)

Add After Cooking:

  • Cornstarch slurry: 2 tablespoons cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water

INSTANT POT: From frozen, 30 minutes on high pressure + 10 minutes natural release. After cooking in Instant Pot, turn on saute function. Remove the bay leaves. Add cornstarch slurry. Cook for a few minutes until slightly thickened. 

SLOW COOKER: From thawed, 5-6 hours on high. Remove the bay leaves. Add cornstarch slurry when it’s done and let thicken for 30 minutes.)

All Purpose Freezer Diced Grilled Chicken

Yogurt Marinade

 

  • ¼ cup lemon 
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

Combine all the marinade ingredients into a large ziploc bag. Add chicken, then marinate in the refrigerator for 3-24 hours. When ready to cook, heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat. Using tongs, remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the grill in a single layer. Cover and grill undisturbed until grill marks appear and the chicken does not stick to the grill, about 4 minutes. If it sticks, continue to cook another minute until it releases easily. Flip and cook the second side until grill marks appear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 165°F, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let rest 5 minutes before dicing the chicken. Once cooled, place diced chicken into freezer friendly ziplocs or container until ready to defrost and enjoy!

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