If you have been following along with this series, this is the 3rd and final post in this series. This week it’s all about stocking a real food freezer. And by real food, I mean minimal processed food that is comprised of the basics! If you missed the other 2 and need to catch up you can read about 15 foods that belong in your healthy pantry or read about choosing healthy fridge foods.
This post has been written and sitting in my drafts for over 2 months. Yes, 2 months. We’ve been busy these past 2 months…we moved, both started new jobs, and have had all the craziness that comes along with that. I’m back to working full time after having 4-5 months off and it’s been an adjustment. But, now that we have moved, settled, and are starting to find our new norm I’m glad to be back to blogging. Needless to say, my freezer has not been well stocked recently, but I’ve already been hitting the sales at Earth Fare to get it back in shape. If you feel like your life has been busy and chaotic lately, I understand. I find that a fully stocked real food freezer helps me to come up with better ideas for meal planning and work within my budget.
Stocking a Real Food Freezer
What to buy:
- Unseasoned frozen veggies for side dishes or stir fry. This could include: broccoli, cauliflower, and stir fry mixes.
- Frozen chopped onions and peppers to make cooking stews and other dishes easier. Money saving tip: You can also chop these at home and freeze them so they are ready to go.
What to buy:
- Frozen fruit for smoothies: berries, mangos, pineapple, etc. You can even buy smoothie variety frozen fruit at the store. My families’ preference is to buy the dirty dozen in organic, and while I recommend it if your budget allows, this isn’t a requirement for healthy eating. I do believe it is best for both environmental and health reasons to limit pesticides.
- Peel and freeze bananas when they start to turn brown. I usually cut them in half and keep a big baggie full of half frozen bananas. Frozen bananas give your smoothie a nice texture.
- You can also buy fruits that go on sale or are about to go bad and freeze these yourself at home.
- During the holiday season: November-December I stock up on fresh cranberries. I like to use them all year long (particularly in baked goods.?)
What to buy: Buying your meat from a local farmer (or raising it yourself ) might be the best options. But how realistic is this for many of us? I live on limited freezer space and we don’t eat a lot of meat anyway, so it would take us forever to eat half a cow. So, my recommendation for “the rest of us” is to buy good quality meat on sale and stock your freezer! Many already frozen meats are enhanced with flavorings and additives. Avoid these by buying fresh or check your labels diligently. I usually look for sales on fresh chicken, turkey, and grass-fed beed at Earth Fare and Fresh Market and stock up.
Wild Caught Fish
What to buy: In addition to making sure the fish you buy is wild caught, look on the package for the country of origin. I prefer to buy my fish from the US (usually it will be Alaska). If you buy fish from your regular grocery store, much of it will likely come from China, which I would definitely avoid due to China’s lack of food safety standards. I have found wild caught Alaskan flounder, cod, and salmon at Sam’s Club.
What to buy: Okay, so maybe I already added this to my pantry list. But, technically, I keep an extra loaf in my freezer. I usually keep the current loaf I’m using in my fridge. Ezekiel bread doesn’t have the preservatives that other breads have, and thus it will not last as long in the pantry. If you missed my pantry stock list, check it out!
What to buy: There are all kinds of homemade freezer meals you can make to stock you freezer. That in itself is a full extra post for another day. Some simple ideas include soup, meatballs (turkey or ground beef), lasagna or lasagna rolls, egg sandwiches, burritos, and healthy casseroles.
What to buy: Making your own broth is very simple. I usually make it in my crockpot and freeze it in portioned bags. I use this method by Lisa Leake on 100 Days of Real Food. Don’t forget, if you don’t have time to do this you can buy organic broth. For more information on what broth to choose, check out my post 15 Foods That Belong in Your Healthy Pantry. You can also freeze any extra broth you buy.
That wraps up my list for stocking your real food freezer. I would love to hear any tips or insight you have for stocking your freezer or making healthy eating simpler for you and your family.