Packaged frozen meals are a convenient way to feed your family, but not every frozen meal is a healthy one. By choosing store-bought frozen meals carefully or preparing your own meals to freeze, you can feed your family healthy foods that they'll love to eat. You'll save time and money, while enhancing your family's health.
Choose Healthy Meals
Show your family how much you care by choosing frozen meals carefully. Opt for lean cuts of meat with lots of vegetables and whole grains, when possible. Choose meals with light marinades and tangy sauces that have great flavor payoff without loading your family's bellies with unnecessary fat and starch. As you become familiar with what your store has to offer, you'll be able to get what you need quickly and with little effort.
Make Your Own
One way to ensure that your frozen meals are healthy is to make them yourself. Make several servings of a meal at once. For example, grill, broil or bake several servings of chicken or salmon at once. Steam and season your family's favorite vegetables with a package of dried salad dressing mix while the meat is cooking. Bake a batch of whole grain muffins to complement the the meal. Cool everything to room temperature, then store the foods in freezer-safe containers and label them with the contents and the date. Create healthy TV dinners for busy nights by filling the compartments of plastic storage containers with meat and sides.
Meet Yourself Halfway
Certain foods do not freeze well. Cooked rice that is frozen then reheated suits most palates, but cooked pasta from the freezer can turn mushy when reheated. Freeze only certain components of a meal, such as the sauce but not the spaghetti noodles. Reheat the sauce, taste the seasonings and cook the pasta fresh, which will probably take less than 10 minutes.
Save Time by Slowing Down
Use your slow cooker in conjunction with your freezer to make your life easier. Purchase slow cooker-ready meals in your grocer's freezer section or prepare ingredients to freeze for a slow cooker meal on another day. Keep the meals in airtight packets in your freezer until you're ready to use them, then dump the contents of the bags into your slow cooker. Use vacuum sealer bags and containers to make setting up your slow cooker frozen meals a snap, and to protect your food from freezer burn. Plan to make more food than you need in your slow cooker. Cool and freeze the extra food for another meal at a later date -- one that only requires defrosting and reheating, not actual cooking.
- "The Professional Chef," The Culinary Institute of America; 2006
- "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook," Beth Hensperger et. al; 2004
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