March is National Frozen Food Month and we’re here to change your mind about it! Frozen food doesn’t have to be unhealthy or less flavorful than fresh foods. Just the opposite, actually! So we’re celebrating with seven awesome ideas on how to save money, save time and make your life easier—but just as healthy—by using your freezer to the fullest.
Prep Freezer Meals for Easy Weeknight Dinners
There is no better feeling than having a meal ready and waiting for you after a long day, but most of us don’t have personal chefs to help make that happen. No worries, the answer to your mealtime mayhem is frozen make-ahead dinners.
Here are a few of our favorite recipes that will help make your weeknight dinners a breeze:
Oven-Baked Chicken Strips
Bacon Turkey Burgers
Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups
Twice-Baked Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potatoes
Buy in Bulk, Freeze the Rest
If you live close enough to a warehouse store like Sam’s Club or Costco, you can save a lot of money by purchasing bulk foods and freezing what you can’t use right away. From butter to bread to ground beef, there are plenty of foods that can be frozen, saving you time at the store and money in your bank account! Here’s a great list of foods you can freeze that might even surprise you!
Buy Meat from Your Local Butcher for the Whole Year
This option is for beef-lovers, only! If you own a deep freezer—you may want to consider buying a whole or partial cow. By purchasing meat from a local butcher, you won’t just save money—you’ll also get more quality beef from a local source you can trust.
Freeze Your Scraps for Stock
After peeling and preparing your vegetables, don’t throw away those tasty scraps! Freeze them, instead! Using a freezer bag, store all your leftover veg and save them until you’re ready to make stock. Sound difficult? It’s not! Making your own stock is pretty simple, check out The Kitchn’s article on how to make vegetable stock here.
Make Your Own Smoothie Blends
Smoothies are a great way to kickstart your morning or fuel up after a great workout. Picking up a smoothie from your favorite spot can get pricey, so why not put your freezer to good use and store smoothie packs instead? By doing a little smoothie prep ahead of time, you’ll have perfectly portioned freezer bags loaded with your favorite mix to throw into your blender in a snap. Add your favorite berries, avocados, leafy greens, bananas—whatever floats your smoothie boat, and add to individual quart-sized freezer bags. When you’re ready to make a smoothie, just add to your blender along with your go-to milk, protein powders or nut butters, too!
Use Your Ice Cube Trays in Unique Ways
Buying fresh herbs can be expensive and letting them go to waste is never fun. The best way to avoid throwing away herbs unnecessarily is by freezing them in olive oil using an ice cube tray! You’ll always have fresh herbs on hand, ready for whatever recipe you decide to make.
Store Make-Ahead Meatballs or Burger Patties
Sure, you can buy store-bought versions of meatballs and burgers—but you can also make your own, ensuring the best taste and saving you money at the same time. By making a big batch ahead of time, you’ll be able to whip up a weeknight dinner in a flash and avoid going through the drive-thru.
What’s your favorite way to make the most of your freezer?
Tell us in the comments, below!
How to Make the Healthy Breakfast Smoothie Bowl of Your Dreams
When you discover a good thing, it can be hard not to dive in headfirst! Tell everyone you know, and eat, eat, eat. I fell into this trap when I discovered an irresistible smoothie bowl. You may have seen them on your Instagram feeds in all their fruity, colorful glory.
The obvious hurdle is that buying smoothie bowls regularly isn’t sustainable, especially if you’re tight on time, money, or calories. So, what do you do? Find a way to mimic the goodness!
Smoothie Bowl Steps
Smoothie bowls are very similar to smoothies, they’re just consumed in a different way (spoon, not straw), and include additional toppings and texture. So, start with your favorite smoothie recipe, blending fruit, some greens (spinach, kale), ice, milk (soy, almond), juice (orange, pomegranate, carrot) or yogurt (greek), and a little healthy sweetener (agave syrup, maple syrup, honey). Have fun with it and try your favorite flavors. You can even make two different smoothies to combine in the same bowl for more interesting bites. Keep thickness in mind overall, as you won’t want it too soupy.
Choose colorful fruit toppings.
The trick is in the toppings. Consider your base and then add complimentary (but not necessarily identical) fruit like blueberries, strawberries, bananas, passion fruit, and raspberries. This is your chance to try something new or uncommon. When’s the last time you had a kiwi? Try a little on top.
Texture is key. You don’t want everything to be smooth, so add some healthy seeds (chia, sunflower, hemp, etc.), grains (granola, oats), and/or nuts (walnut, pumpkin, almond). A little unsweetened coconut flakes sprinkled on top is a nice finishing touch.
Beware of sweetened yogurt, high-calorie granola, and other unnatural, processed ingredients. Stay as fresh as possible, and know that you’ll get a lot of sweetness from the smoothie and additional fruit toppings. You may even find you want a dollop of crème fraîche or plain greek yogurt on top to tame things!
Have fun with the design.
Just like the “recipe,” which can be varied in a million ways, have fun with the assembly. Pro tip: It usually looks nicer if toppings are added in chunks, in their own space; and it’s best if the heaviest items go last. You can always mix it and lose the pretty when eating!
Admire your creation. Then dig in!
That’s it. Whether or not your final bowl is Instagram-worthy, you can pat yourself on the back for starting the day with a healthy breakfast. Way to go!
If you’re looking for more specific direction, find many smoothie bowl recipes online.
The Best Snacks for On-the-Go
We’ve all read or heard the saying, “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry.” When your blood sugar dips into the red, it can be hard to keep your cool and stay on track in your health journey—which is why we’re sharing our favorite recipes and snack ideas that can fit in your desk drawer, car console, purse or diaper bag.
If you love a nutty snack, these recipes are perfect for you! Loaded with protein and good fats, these snacks will keep you full, energized and ready for anything.
Recipes can be wonderful, but not everyone has time to mix up their snacks! Below are some quick ideas for you to literally grab on the run. We recommend portioning out snacks at the beginning of the week so you can stay on track, on the fly.
- String cheese and grapes
- Dried fruits and nut mix
- Jerky (beef or turkey, but turkey is leaner!)
- Hardboiled eggs
- Protein drinks
If you need more ideas (who doesn’t?), don’t miss our awesome roundup of 20 portable snacks you’ll love!
Healthy Protein Cookie Dough Bites
I think I can safely say that we’ve all been caught eating raw cookie dough straight from the bowl. However, my experience working in nutrition and in the food industry has taught me that this is not a good thing. It’s quite risky and it can compromise your health goals. You see, most people assume that the warning to not consume raw cookie dough is primarily to avoid the foodborne illness salmonella, caused by ingesting raw eggs. But there’s also a warning on flour, which is extremely dirty (until baked, of course).
This lead me to seek out food-safe cookie dough treat ideas (to fit my dietary restrictions: gluten free, dairy free). You’ll love what I found because these Cookie Dough Bites will satisfy your hankering for cookie dough. Plus, they’re low in sugar, high in protein, and wheat free!
Mini No-Bake Cookie Dough Bites
Makes ~ 18-20 teaspoon sized dough bites
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp honey
- ½ cup almond flour
- ½ cup pulverized oats (or oat flour, I like mine a little more chunk)
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 heaping tbsp nut butter of choice
- 2 tbsp cacao nibs, mini chocolate chips or carob chips
- Mix coconut oil, vanilla, and honey in a medium bowl.
- Add almond meal, pulverized oats, and protein powder.
- Stir in nut butter. Continue mixing until thoroughly combined.
- Add chip of choice to “dough” mixture.
- Using a heaping teaspoon, form dough into balls.
- Freeze dough bites (minimum 2 hours).
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