Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to prepare a healthy, well-rounded meal from scratch. If you disagree then please disclose your secret to the rest of us mortals! Even with the most meticulous planning, I still run out of time to cook in the evenings a couple times a week. I’ve found that when I’m strapped for time or lack the energy/motivation to cook, it turns into an excuse to make poor food choices. What follows is a domino effect of lousy dietary choices in the coming days. Once I fall off the healthy eating wagon, its always hard to get back on. Therefore, to avoid those situations I make sure to have healthy freezer meals on hand at all times.
Store-Bought Freezer Meals
It is possible to find healthy pre packaged store-bought freezer meals, although typically those meals cost five to seven bucks and are loaded with sodium. A better option is to make your own freezer meals, which is usually healthier and always cheaper. Although, if you are looking for store-bought meals to have on hand for those occasional dire situations, there are a few strategies to finding the healthiest ones.
- Check out the sodium content. Freezer meals are notorious for packing in the sodium, therefore look for freezer meals that have less than 500 milligrams of sodium.
- Find the freezer meals with the most vegetables. Unfortunately none of them will be vegetable heavy, although some lack any veggies at all. Avoid those!
- Always check out the ingredient list. Try to find the ones with whole grains, veggies, and beans — skip over the ones with processed grains, meat, and cheese (those will typically be the sodium-heavy ones as well).
- Look for the ones that say “vegan” somewhere on the box or at the beginning at the ingredients list. This is a quick way to distinguish which meals to further check out and which to skip entirely.
- If your grocery store has a health food freezer section, that is the best place to look.
Store-bought freezer meals can be a great solution in a pinch, although they can also be an abused crutch. The goal should always be to cook from scratch – even if it’s simply a hummus & veggie or PB & banana sandwich – or cook a homemade freezer meal.
Homemade Freezer Meals
When it comes to homemade freezer meals, in my opinion, these can’t be abused or overused. If prepping freezer meals is the ideal way for you to prepare healthy meals throughout the week then use that to your advantage! Homemade freezer meals can be anything from soups to black beans patties to crockpot meals to stir fry.
Modify all of the following Wholly Plants recipes to be freezer meals.
- Lentil Amaze-Balls
- White Bean Baked Burritos
- Hearty Pumpkin Chili
- Lentil Nuggets with Sweet & Sour Sauce
- Pumpkin White Bean Patties
- Mesquite Black Bean Burger
- Dill-licious Split Pea Soup
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Burger
- Mexican Lasagna
- Salted Caramel Nut Clusters
- Howie Bars
- Almond Joy Balls
- Lemon Turmeric Energy Balls
- Gingerbread Balls
- Chocolate Snowballs
- Samoa Cookies
- Chunky Granola
Utilize the “freezer meal” tag on right side of the page to see all freezer meal recipes.
One last freezer shortcut recommendation that I tell everyone who’s willing to listen is to utilize frozen steamable vegetables. If you’ve never used these then your life is about to change! In the frozen vegetable section in the supermarket there are bags of frozen vegetables that say “steamable” on the front of the packaging. (Typically a dollar each) You can take these frozen veggies out of the freezer and place the entire bag in the microwave to steam them. And thats all it takes!
These are perfect for a veggie side dish or to put over rice/quinoa along with this Thai Peanut Sauce. I constantly use these to cut corners — Like steaming the brussel sprouts for a few minutes before roasting them when I make these Roasted Balsamic Veggies and these Dijon Brussel Sprouts to ensure they get cooked all the way through. Typically frozen vegetables retain most, if not all, of their nutrients, so don’t be afraid to utilize these as much as possible!
If you have any food prep shortcuts or go-to freezer meals please include them in a comment below so we can reap the benefits too!