Le sigh. This week has been unusually busy for me. I’ve been “go go go” since Monday and it’s only Thursday! My goal of blogging 5 days a week went out the window. Hair was in a ponytail every day, I even tried to open my apartment door with my work swipe card.
Being busy and exhausted makes my October Unprocessed month even more challenging. The lure of fast, processed food is EVERYWHERE. Thankfully my freezer stash of homemade, prepared foods has saved my buns on numerous occasions this week. Taking the time to prep and make larger batches of food when you DO have the time is such a great investment. I thought I would share with you all my top 5 meals/foods that I try and keep in my freezer, so I have healthy food fast when I’m in a time crunch.
Oh chili, how many ways can I say I love you? L’amour? Ich liebe dich? Chili is a great staple meal for the freezer. It is liquid enough to freeze well, it is cheap and filling, there are endless combinations/recipes out there and you can pair it with lots of things in your pantry. Last week I made a vegan chili with vegetables, canned kidney beans and leftover roasted acorn squash. I froze the leftovers and paired them with a 10 minute basmati rice for quick lunches this week. Hearty, nutritious, tasty, filling, easy.
2) Slow cooker soups/stews
This year before my knee surgery I bought a Crockpot for 30$ at Costco. It was the best investment of my life. Freezer Crockpot meals got me through months when I couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes. Now they are getting me through busy work weeks because I can make huge batches at once and freeze in smaller portions. My favourite crockpot meals are beef stew, chicken/turkey soup and potato/leek soup (I blitz the potato/leek soup with an immersion blender before freezing it). My go-to beef stew recipe actually comes from Today’s Parent (haha), I adapt it slightly by taking out the tomatoes and adding a few cups of sliced mushroom (personal preference).
3) Slow cooker meats
Cooking meat tends to take the most investment of my time in the kitchen. I started making meat in my Crockpot because 1) I can buy cheaper cuts and slow cooking helps tenderize, 2) I can do batch cooking while at work 3) Having liquid with the meat helps it freeze better. My 2 favourite meats to do in the Crockpot are shredded chicken and pulled pork. Here are my 2 favourite, tried, tested and true recipes:
4) Frozen vegetables and fruits
Nothing says “easy” like using already washed and chopped produce. I always have the following in my freezer: Frozen organic wild blueberries, mango, banana (chopped and whole), spinach, edamame. Here is what I use them for:
- Blueberries: Smoothies, in plain greek yogurt (I put them in frozen and they are thawed by lunch!), muffins, compote for pancakes, oatmeal. Endless possibilities!
- Mango: Smoothies, ice cubes for water, eaten right out of the bag as a snack 🙂
- Banana: Smoothies (peeled and pre-cut in a Ziploc bag), muffins, pancakes, oatmeal
- Spinach: Smoothies, added to curries, minestrone soup
- Edamame: Stir fries, coleslaw, salads
During my October Unprocessed challenge, I was finding it difficult to abstain from processed snacks. Especially when the 2pm crash hits and I’m craving sugar like a madwoman. My freezer stash of baked oatmeal muffins has saved me countless times, and really hits the spot when I’m craving something sweet. These muffins (and others) freeze so well, and are thawed to the perfect texture by the afternoon. Here is my recipe, adapted through trial and error until I found the one I loved the most. Feel free to adapt it yourself by adding or taking out any ingredients!
Banana chocolate chip baked oatmeal muffins
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons milled flaxseed
- 1 cup unsweetened milk of choice (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 3 medium bananas, VERY ripe (I use my freezer stash of ripe bananas)
- 1/4 cup- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)
- Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.
- In a bowl, mash bananas together with a fork until soft.
- Add the remaining ingredients (except chocolate chips) and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
- Line a muffin tin with muffin liners (I haven’t tried them without the liners but I suspect they would stick).
- Add chocolate chips to the muffin mix.
- Divide batter into muffin tins. Depending on how much you fill, this recipe will yield 12-15 muffins. They won’t rise, so fill them to the top!
- Bake for 25 minutes on the centre rack. Try to eat once cooled (I know, so hard) as the muffin tends to stick to the liner when hot. ENJOY!