Do you cook at home more often because it's more nutritious and less expensive than eating out or ordering in? If so, you probably spend more time shopping for and preparing meals, too.
Look to your freezer for the best of all worlds! Stock it with meal ingredients—and save time and money, too.
Tap into some of our favorite freezer tips and tricks:
Fruits and veggies. When it comes to nutrition, many people fall short in the produce department. Stock up on frozen fruits and veggies so they're always on hand. Bonus: They're as nutritious as fresh!
Choose frozen fruits without added sugars and veggies without cream or butter sauces. That way, you get the most nutrition for the fewest calories and you can control the extras.
Zap your favorite frozen veggie for a super–fast dinner side dish. Or, make a hearty vegetarian pasta meal: Toss cooked whole–wheat spaghetti with a small package of frozen peas, a can of kidney beans (rinsed and drained) and some olive oil. Tip: To cook the frozen peas, add them to the boiling water with the spaghetti a minute or two before it's done.
For a blast of vitamins A and C, try frozen mango chunks. Blend with a banana and fat–free yogurt for a creamy smoothie. Or, add frozen berries to muffin, quick bread or pancake batter.
Frozen fish. Sink your teeth into fish twice a week to benefit heart health, advises the American Heart Association. Land some salmon, cod, halibut and tilapia to make sure you get your quota.
Poach, steam, broil, bake or grill your catch to keep it healthy. Zip up the flavor by marinating in light Asian dressing before cooking, or serve cooked fish topped with fruit chutney or a squeeze of lemon juice.
Meats and poultry. Watch for sales on protein–packed lean beef and pork (look for "loin" or "round" in the name), and skinless chicken breasts and thighs. Freeze in recipe–ready size packages to make meal prep a breeze (don't forget to defrost overnight in the fridge before using).
Breads, bagels and more. Snap up your favorite whole–grain breads, bagels, English muffins and pita bread during "buy one get one free" sales and freeze the extras for later.
Frozen entrees. What could be quicker? Buy low–fat varieties most often and look for options with whole grains and vegetables to help boost nutrition. Or, add a salad and piece of fruit for a balanced meal.
Your own creations. Make and freeze extra batches of soups, stews and casseroles to pull out for another meal. Do the same for long–cooking ingredients like dried beans and brown rice.