Tips for Freezing Healthy Meals

Freezing healthy meals can help you and your family make smart meal choices during your hectic week.

Managing the schedule for you and your family can seem like a full-time job.  Throw in a job, continuing education, exercise and carrying for aging parents, there isn’t much time left for healthy cooking.  You may find fast food drive thrus to be the only practical solution but I want to share some tips for portioning, cooking and freezing some foods to relieve that “what’s for dinner” burden.

Trying to steer away from carry out or pre-packaged foods allows you to control the flavor, preservatives, salt, sugar and saturated fat in your families’ meals.  Schedule 2 hours on a weekend to pre-cook chicken, pork, bison, meaty seafood like mahi mahi, cod, halibut or shrimp.  Also cook up complex whole grains such as quinoa, barley, farro and brown rice.

After cooking and cooling these foods, I use an electronic food scale and sandwich bags to portion out 3 oz sizes of them. I clearly mark names and dates on the packaging.  Then I package each group of food together in a larger freezer bag, marking the outside that bag as well.

Tips for freezing success:

  • Retain as much moisture as possible.
  • Freezer burn is actually excessive drying out caused by exposure to cold air in the freezer. Try to remove as much air from the packaging as possible.
  • Thaw frozen cooked meat in the refrigerator over night or place sealed package in a bowl of cold water for several hours.

You can freeze pre-shredded cheese, fruits, and vegetables (try blanching first), herbs (not always successful at this unless you puree them first).

I keep 2 proteins plus 2 grain portions out for packed lunches or quick dinners on a shelf in the fridge.  For dinner combine a meat plus a grain and add a cup of vegetables.  You can boost the flavor of the dish with spices, flavored vinegars or flavored olive oil.

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