Freezer Staples | Making Healthy Eating Easy and Cheaper

Standard

image

I have come to realize that the most practical way to purchase healthy food on a budget is by purchasing items that will be held in my freezer. This also makes cooking for one easy as well.

image

In my last post I spoke about my soup files, which have really made lunch easy. With the remainder of my freezer staples I kept that same meal portions concept in mind.

First up, Chicken Breast. I eat chicken every week in soups, curries, wraps, etc, so I wanted to find a good economical frozen bag of breast fillets. However, I still wanted hormone free, organic chicken packaged with as few preservatives as possible. I went to my three favorite stores for purchasing meat, perused their selection, and chose the best option.
image

Of the options, Trader Joe’s won, hands down. This 2lb bag of frozen breast meat is hormone free , there are no preservatives, and is individually frozen (meaning I don’t have to pry stuck pieces of chicken apart. Each breast is 4oz., which for me is a perfect portion. Continuing with meat, seafood and beef.

image

I live in Florida with easily accessible, cheap seafood, so it’s a must in my life. I go to the market, buy a few large fillets, cut them into the portions I need and freeze them in water (keeps frost bite away). For example, I bought one sizeable Salmon fillet and cut it into 4 portions ($6.99/lb), a good size Mahi Mahi fillet (9.99/lb, cost $7 that day) and cut it into two portions, and a pound of Bay Scallops (5.99/pound) portioned into 4 clumps. I froze each portion separately and ended up with about a months worth of seafood. I also purchased a pound of lean ground beef from Trader Joe’s (5.99/lb), seasoned and froze it in two separate portions (spaghetti and stuffed peppers).

image

Last of the seafood is frozen shrimp. I almost bought shrimp from the same seafood market, but my sister pointed out that the bag from the Publix Frozen food section is peeled and deveined, which will make those tired nights easier, so I splurged and purchased the one pound bag for $18.99. Seems expensive, but when you do the portion math, it’s not so bad, none the less it’s a splurge. Next up was Smoothie fruit:

image

My sister kindly pointed out to me that I could purchase a 5 lb bag of mixed fruit from Sam’s Club for $10.98, and that was that. I make a green smoothie daily and this bag of frozen fruit is by far more economical than anything else I was purchasing. I still add a piece of fresh fruit to my smoothie (banana, mango, avocado or pear), and save lots of money. Last but not least is veggies:

image

I was hesitant to purchase frozen veggies because they do not have as much flavor as the fresh variety, but the nutritional value is higher, so I decided to give it a try. Economically, Walmart wins with these three pound bags of Bird’s Eye veggies are $2.99 a piece. As you can see I am almost done with one of the bags. These are so easy to steam, throw in a stir fry, noodles or curry dish. They have cut down on cooking and prep time tremendously.

image

I have to admit that while economical, they do not have as much flavor as their never frozen counterparts. Plus, pesticides and preservatives, well you decide. None the less, these freezer staples have made life sooooooo much easier. My weekly grocery spending is sooooo much cheaper and meal planning now starts with the freezer!

Advertisements

Daily Eats | Meal 2 & Dessert

Standard

Ever since I took on the Simple Green Smoothies 30 Day Challenge early last year, I have drunk a green smoothie almost every day! Late last year I decided that if I made it into the new year still drinking a green smoothie daily, that I would buy a good blender. Welp, I met that goal, saved money and bought a refurbished Blendtec:

blendtec

It takes 40 seconds to blend a smoothie which is more than half the time to it took to prep and make a green smoothie in my old blender. I never realized the blender would solve my sweet tooth issues as well, but it has! I have been making fresh sorbet and its so delicious that it satisfies my sweet tooth daily. I make a Sorbet once every eight days and have a half cup after dinner most nights. Its low in calories, natural and delicious.

My favorite Sorbet recipes of late are:

Serving: 8

Citrus Strawberry (by Blendtec)
2 Medium Oranges
1/4 cup Honey
16 oz. Frozen Strawberries

Strawberry Banana
2 Ripe Bananas
1/4 cup Honey
Juice of 1 Orange
16 oz. Frozen Strawberries

Strawberry Mango
16 oz Fresh Strawberries
1/4 c Honey
Juice of 1 Orange
16 oz Frozen Mango

Yield: 1/2 Cup

Its strawberry season, so I am using them as much as possible. Once Mango’s are more in season, I will use them more for variety. It takes about two minutes to make Sorbet in the Blendtec, so its freakin Awesome!!!!!

Meal Prep | Jan 27-Feb 2

Standard

Saturday I made red lentil soup (video will be up Thursday), made some meal plans and a grocery list.

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

SATURDAY

SUNDAY

Breakfast

Green

Smoothie

w/toast

Green

Smoothie

w/toast

Green

Smoothie

w/toast

Green

Smoothie

w/toast

Green

Smoothie

w/toast

Grilled

Cheese

Sandwich

w/strawberries

Cream

Of

Wheat

w/Chia Seeds

Snack

Fruit

Fruit

Fruit

Fruit

Fruit

Fruit

Fruit

Lunch

Lentil

Soup

w/small

salad

Turkey

Sandwich

w/veggies

and hummus

Turkey

Sandwich

w/veggies

and hummus

Bean curry

w/fruit

Turkey

Sandwich

w/veggies

and hummus

Green

Smoothie

w/toast

Green Smoothie

w/toast

Snack

Options:

Granola

Popcorn

Chips&Salsa

Options:

Granola

Popcorn

Chips&Salsa

Options:

Granola

Popcorn

Chips&Salsa

Options:

Granola

Popcorn

Chips&Salsa

Options:

Granola

Popcorn

Chips&Salsa

Options:

Granola

Popcorn

Chips&Salsa

Options:

Granola

Popcorn

Chips&Salsa

Dinner

Mahi Mahi

Quinoa

Green Beans

Roasted

Veggies

Quinoa

Bean Curry

Basmati rice

Beans

Mahi Mahi

Quinoa

Sweet potato

Pizzadilla

Salad

Tilapia

Quinoa

Green Beans

Tomato

Bisque

Pita Bread

Sunday I went grocery shopping and did my usual meal prep, which only took an hour this time.

meal prep2Tonight I plan to make enough quinoa and basmati rice for the week. Starting at the far left, the jars contain pizza sauce and curry sauce. The blue containers contain broccoli and cauliflower, green beans, and sliced strawberries. The green containers are holding red bell pepper, carrots and a roughly chopped sweet potato. The right containers are specific meal prep; the ziploc bag has a piece of Mahi Mahi,the container directly under holds one serving of lentil soup, the top purple container holds pizzadilla fixings (mushrooms, pepperoni, onions), and the bottom purple container holds a veggie mix for roasting (red cabbage, carrots, red bell pepper, onion).

I made the granola a couple of weeks ago, it resides in two mason jars placed in my kitchen, and I have fruits and other snacks just lying around my house. This whole meal prep thing is pretty simple, and it truly cuts down on time throughout the week. I have healthy meals planned, and I am sticking to them.

Weekly Update: 06/11/13

Standard

I did it again, I lost another pound, this brings me to 141! That means so far this year I have lost 14 lbs, and I did it in a sustainable way. Which means I have kept off the pounds, made great permanent changes, and I have solid plans to continue on this journey until I reach my 20 pound goal, and beyond.

This past week was great in the food department, I have another recipe to review, and I used papaya in my smoothies this week. I have never used an actual papaya before, just papaya juice, so that was an interesting change. I discovered that I do not really like papaya by itself, you live and you learn. I froze fresh beans for the first time last week, I plan to use them in salads and for bean curry, which I haven’t had in awhile. I mostly ate fish last week and chicken last week, with some cheesecake factory thrown in there while out of town. My sweets for last week included Fat Boy Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches and Apple Pie.

I also managed to get in my three runs last week, but no strength training. I will start the Zuzka Strength series next week, but in the mean time I plan to get at least 4 runs in this week and a ZWOW twice this week. I plan to try a new taco recipe this week as well. As you can see, I am taking this health thing a week at a time because it seems to be working for me.

My Green Smoothie Formulas

Standard

After months of drinking Green Smoothies, with lost of experimentation, I have created two fail-safte recipes in which you can insert your favorite combos:

Recipe 1

2.5 Cups of Greens

1/2 Cup Juice

1/2 Banana, Pear  or Apple

1/2 Cup Fruit 1

1 Cup Fruit 2

Recipe 2

2.5 Cups of Greens

1 Banana, Pear, or Apple

1/2 Cup Fruit 1

1 Cup Fruit 2

*My only exception to this rule is when using kiwi, no need for the banana, pear, or apple.

As far as greens go, you can’t really go wrong. Feel free to separate the two and a half cups any way you please, maybe half cup of cilantro with two cups spinach, etc. The only green I am careful of is Romaine Lettuce, it has an earthy taste no matter what, so I am sure to use lemon juice when using it. Otherwise, the green you use simply affects texture, not taste. If you use a fruit that is not quite ripe, squirt a little Agave Nectar in there. I often add Milled Flaxseed, Chia Seeds, Cacao Powder, or any nutritious additive I please. Be sure to use organic greens and fruits to ensure you get their actual nutritional value, check out your local farmers market(s)and farms for the best deals and the ripest fruits and veggies.

My favorite fruit combos are:

Kiwi + Strawberry

Pineapple + Mango

Pear + Peach

Peach + Banana

Green Apple + Peach

Grapes + ANYTHING

Papaya + Pineapple

My favorite veggies to use are:

Kale

Spinach

Cucumber

Celery

Collard Greens

Carrots

May favorite juice bases are (make sure you use Pure Juice, I use Lakewood):

Orange (Sometimes Florida’s Natural)

Apple

Pomegranate

Goji Berry

Papaya

I’ve been drinking at least one green smoothie a day for 3 months now, and I could not be happier with that choice. They are addictive, tasty, very nutritious, a great post workout meal, a great meal replacement, etc. I could go on and on. Note: If you add a dark fruit, you will end up with a brown smoothie, which probably looks even less appetizing than a green smoothie :-). Now I just need to save enough money to buy a high powered blender (dreaming!) In the mean time, my Ninja Master Prep Pro is doing the job.

If you have any recipes you love, please share in the comments below. If you try one of my combos, tell me if you love it, hate it, or are ambivalent. I hope this encourages someone to give green smoothies a go!

Cacao Powder

Standard

This week in the 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge, Cacao powder was on the grocery list, and though I have seen this out there on the internet before, I didn’t really

Cacao Powder

know what it was, so I did some research. This ingredient is better know as Cocoa Powder in the States, which I have heard of. However, its not the sweetened Hershey’s or Nestles’s Cocoa Powder that we use in hot drinks. Instead it is unsweetened Raw Cocoa Powder, which is actually harder to find in the Staes (Cacao Powder is actually easier to find). Same product, different names, and different processes in the States.

Cacao Powder is full of antioxidants and naturally has a chocolaty flavor. However, unlike most American made chocolate, this has a slightly bitter flavor, as it is not Milk chocolate, but instead directly from the seed, processed into powder through a heating and/or oil process. The Milk Chocolate we eat does not have nearly the same nutritional value, so no Milk Chocolate substitutions here. Adding it to smoothies should give a sweeter flavor and maybe just maybe can curb my veracious sweet tooth.