We’ve all had that moment when you reach into the fridge to pull out that punnet of fresh blueberries for your smoothie. You peel back the covering and, yep – they’ve turned to a soggy, wrinkly, furry mush.
Greens are a good source of vitamins C and K, and if you buy them frozen the goodness is locked in, rather than wilting away in your fridge…
So what can you do? You use your freezer.
You can save money, reduce waste, and still enjoy nutritious food using your freezer a bit more. Here are 11 essential foods that I think we should all keep to hand in our freezers. How many of these do you freeze?
11 Essential Foods to Keep in Your Freezer
1. Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts
Greens are a good source of vitamins C and K, and if you buy them frozen the goodness is locked in, rather than wilting away in your fridge for a week before you get around to using them. Plus, you can just reach in and grab a handful for a stir-fry or bubble and squeak – all that scrubbing and chopping can put you off at 7am. You’ll save money, too. One supermarket sells fresh Brussels sprouts at £2/kg, while a bag of frozen will cost you £1/kg. Add frozen cabbage straight to the pan for stir-fries, or clatter a handful or two of frozen Brussels sprouts into a dish and roast in the oven with bacon.
A 2012 study which followed 93,000 women found that those who ate three portions of blueberries or more a week were 32% less likely to die of a heart attack than those who ate less.1 Was it down to the berries? The researchers say it could be. But berries do go off quickly in the fridge and are a good source of vitamins C and K. Buy them frozen and add straight into smoothies, sauces, or swirl into coconut yoghurt for a quick pudding. They’re cheaper too – you’ll save around £2/kg buying them frozen.
Not high on all our food lists perhaps, but very nutritious. Chris Kresser has said that beef liver is a fantastic source of phosphorous, magnesium, vitamin A and B12 and biotin.2 Surprisingly, beef liver also contains more vitamin C than an apple. But because it’s an organ meat it will spoil quickly if it is left in the fridge too long. Freeze it on the day you buy it, or buy it already frozen. Liver makes a cheaper alternative to more popular cuts of meat, too.
4. Sweet Potatoes
The cost difference between buying fresh or frozen isn’t as big as with some other foods, but it’s always handy to have some ready-peeled cubes of healthy starch waiting frostily in a bag for when you need it. Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A, C, and fibre – and you can just drop the icy cubes straight into your curries or stews to melt and cook through. You can also freeze them yourself – just peel, cook, cool, and freeze.
Buy a tub of fresh raspberries and you’d better eat them quick, before they sprout white tufts of mould or turn to mush at the bottom. With frozen raspberries, you don’t have that problem. Raspberries are high in potassium as well as vitamin C, and the researchers of a 2011 study found a link between a diet rich in potassium and a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease.3 Tumble frosty raspberries straight into smoothies, raspberry sauces, crumbles, or bakes.
I love plantains – they’re a really versatile starchy veg that you can make chips, fries, muffins, pancakes, and cakes with. But you can’t always source them easily. And when you can buy them, they turn from green to black in a few days on the worktop. So I buy a big batch and freeze them. Peel the green plantains and slice them into rounds and store in a container or bag in the freezer. When you need them just defrost in the fridge and then use them in your favourite recipes. Plantains are a good source of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C.
We tend to think of primal and Paleo diets as quite meat heavy – but seafoods like prawns, scallops, and mussels are really nutritious. They can contain high levels of selenium, zinc, iodine, copper, and omega-3 fats. You’ll save money – frozen prawns are often cheaper than fresh. You can buy frozen mackerel, seabass, plaice, and cod too, as well as many other varieties. The NHS say that we should be eating at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish like mackerel, salmon, or sardines.4
Have you ever reached into the fridge for a pack of parsley only to find the leaves brown and limp, and the flavour all gone? Fresh herbs are expensive, so cut waste by freezing them. You can either buy herbs already frozen, or preserve them yourself by washing, chopping, and dropping them into an ice cube tray. Fill with cold water and freeze. Then you have herbs whenever you need them – just drop the herb filled ice cube into your recipe, and the water will melt away.
Onions are a good source of fibre and have been credited from helping everything from easing a cold to reducing the risk of prostate cancer.5 But they don’t keep for very long in the fridge or cupboard before they start sprouting green shoots and smelling weird. Your best bet is to peel off the skin and chop them (use a food processor if chopping a bag of onions sounds too much). Store the chopped onions in a container or food bag and keep in the freezer. All you need to do is take out a spoonful or two as you need them and fry from frozen – they’ll defrost in seconds.
Buying bones for bone broth? A pack of bones can be big and clunky in the fridge, especially if you’re struggling for room for vegetables and other meats. Pop them in the freezer as you buy them, so they’re out of the way until you need them. You can also use the freezer to save the bones you use up in the week. Just collect bones from roasted chicken carcasses, drumsticks, or ribs and add them, once thoroughly cooled, to a bag or container in your freezer. When you have enough, make broth.
Kept a mugful of that stew you made? Got a small bag of curry in the freezer? Good. Save everything. You never know when last week’s broccoli soup will come in handy as a warming breakfast or packed lunch for you to heat up at work. Just make sure you cool it thoroughly first, before freezing. Top tip: label everything. Even if you know what that chicken curry looks like now. Everything looks very similar after a couple of months dotted about in the freezer.
What are your essential foods to keep in your freezer? Have you any top tips for freezing? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
- Cassidy, A., Mukamal, K.J., Liu, L., Franz, M., Eliassen, A.H., Rimm, E.B. (2013). High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women. In Circulation. 2013 Jan 15;127(2):188-96. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23319811
- Kresser, C. (2008). Liver: nature’s most potent superfood. In Chris Kresser. Retrieved from http://chriskresser.com/natures-most-potent-superfood/
- Yang, Q., Liu, T., Kuklina, E.V., Flanders, W.D., Hong, Y., Gillespie, C., Chang, M.H., et al. (2011). Sodium and potassium intake and mortality among US adults: prospective data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In Archives of Internal Medicine, 2011 Jul 11;171(13):1183-91. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21747015
- (Anonymous). (n.d.) Fish and shellfish. In NHS Choices. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/Goodfood/Pages/fish-shellfish.aspx
- Hsing, A.W., Chokkalingam, A.P., Yu-Tang, G., Madigan, M.P., Deng, J., Gridley, G., Fraumeni, J.F., Jr. (2002). Allium Vegetables and Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Population Based Study. In Journal of National Cancer Institute, Vol 94, Issue 21. pp. 1648-1651. Retrieved from: http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/94/21/1648.full#cited-by