Originally Posted by diyana
Yes, Munchy, please, please please, share examples, recipes...all your wisdom and successful tips!
I have the longest document ever, so don't mind me. Pick and choose what advice works for you and your plan. I just have some ideas that may help:
CUTTING AND PASTING!
There are three reasons why we tend to fail with healthy eating: time, taste, and cost.
It's hard to cook on a budget, let alone a household of different tastes. I'm a single mom and definitely cut corners wherever I can. Freezer meals help me save money so I'm not wasting time/energy (cooking once for many, many servings), not wasting food (cooking it before it goes bad), and I feel good knowing I'm serving healthy food that I made with my own hands. Incorporating vegetables is great because it stretches your meat, which is often the most expensive part of a meal. Shopping at discount markets such as Aldi’s, Asian markets, PriceRite, and ShopRite further reduce costs.
With my daughter, I usually cook things that would be considered "kid-friendly," but I incorporate vegetables. I've done it since she was born, but I serve the same food to any other kids (and adults!) that happen to be around, and it always is well-received.
Cauliflower macaroni and cheese:
Take one chopped head of cauliflower, steam in a small amount of water until tender. Puree cauliflower, add 1 cup sharp cheese, and season to taste. Freeze in ice cube trays until frozen, transfer to a labeled freezer bag. To serve, microwave as many cubes as needed and mix with cooked pasta or a mixture of cooked broccoli and pasta. This can also be used as a cheese sauce for veggies.
Chicken/yellow squash nuggets:
Shred 1-2 squash and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Mix with 1lb ground chicken, 1 egg, seasoning, form into “nuggets” and bread with your choice of bread crumb. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cool and freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a labeled freezer bag. To serve, microwave until thawed or bake for a crisp exterior.
Shred 1-2 zucchini and squeeze most of the liquid out. Mix with 1lb ground turkey, 1 egg, seasoning, parmesan cheese, and choice of bread crumb. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Cool and freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a labeled freezer bag. To serve, microwave until thawed or simmer in sauce.
Sauté onion, pepper, mushroom, spinach. Chop 8 slices of turkey or center cut bacon, and crisp. Cook 8 scrambled eggs, and mix all cooled ingredients together. Lay out 8 large high fiber/low carb burritos (like La Tortilla Factory smart and delicious line or Ole Wellness High Fiber). Divide mixture amongst 8 burritos, top each with ¼ cup of cheese of choice, and roll into burritos, folding in the sides. Lay seam side down on cookie sheet, and freeze. Once frozen, transfer to labeled freezer bag. To serve, microwave wrapped in damp paper towel for 2-3 minutes until thawed or microwave until thawed and crisp in lightly greased pan until browned. Options: add in cooked potatoes, vegetables to taste, sun dried tomatoes, jalapenos, hot sauce, or any other preferred fillings. Can substitute 2 egg whites for each whole egg.
Mix 2 cups of cooked rice of choice, sautéed vegetables of choice, one can rinsed black beans, salsa (optional jalapeno, hot sauce, sofrito, corn, etc). Lay out 8 large high fiber/low carb burritos, divide, top each with ¼ cup cheese, roll, and freeze on cookie sheet. To serve, microwave wrapped in paper towel for 2-3 minutes until thawed or microwave until thawed and crisp in lightly oiled pan until browned. Options: replace some or all of the rice and beans with shredded cooked chicken/beef/pork or cooked ground meat.
Burgers and meatloaf are other great options. Just finely shred or pulse any vegetable you want into them. You will be surprised at how nobody detects them, especially if the colors are similar. Raw burgers can be formed and frozen on a cookie sheet and once frozen bagged or packaged with wax paper in between each burger. Meatloaf can be cooked in a muffin pan for individual servings, then cooled and frozen on a cookie sheet before bagging.
Oven baked "fries" can be made out of potatoes, sweet potatoes, celeriac, turnips, rutabaga, carrots, or other root vegetables and kids will eat them up. They can even be baked, cooled and frozen onto a sheet pan and transferred to a freezer bag for homemade frozen fries.
A variety of chili, soups, and stews are family friendly, low calorie, and can be frozen in individually portioned containers or in jars. Pureed or finely chopped vegetables can be incorporated easily. In order to quickly cook by crockpot, chop vegetables and meat once to make several meals, using 1lb of meat per bag. On busy mornings, one bag can be taken out and put into the crockpot.
Ground beef mixed with pulsed mushrooms (1lb meat with 8-16oz of mushrooms) cooked together is undetectable. It’s a great trick for burgers, tacos, sloppy joes, shepherd’s pie, etc.
Casseroles like chicken divan, pot pie, pasta bake, lasagna (made with traditional noodles or mandolin sliced eggplant or zucchini), shepherd’s pie, and layered enchiladas, can be cooked, cooled, and frozen until almost solid, cut into number of servings, then bagged as squares to heat up at a later date.
Vegetables can be “noodled” by either purchasing a noodler, using a mandolin, or peeling into strips with a peeler. Zucchini and squash are particularly good as noodles, and can be sautéed until slightly soft or can be served raw and warmed with sauce of choice.
For more healthy recipes, visit www.skinnytaste.com
, or www.livebetteramerica.com
. For ideas on how to cook on a budget, try www.budgetbytes.com
Ideas of quick meals are:
Cheese/black bean/vegetable corn tortilla quesadillas, with a simple side of tomato salad (chopped tomato, olive oil, fresh cracked salt and pepper), and corn.
Loaded baked potatoes with center cut or turkey bacon, cheese, roasted broccoli, and light sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
Frozen vegetables, frozen fish, and stir fry sauce over rice noodles, rice or standing alone.
Turkey kielbasa/frozen fish/chicken tenderloin paired with a starch and a roasted or frozen vegetable
Pizzas on flatbread, flour tortillas or pitas. Kids love to put their own sauce (I cook large batches of marinara sauce), cheese, and toppings onto them. Look for the high fiber/low carb flour tortillas linked above, Flatout light, or Trader Joe's wholegrain pitas.
Tuna cakes (like crab cakes). Mix a can of drained tuna, a microwave-cooked small potato (cooled and peeled), a little bit of light mayonnaise, lemon juice, peppers, seasonings, and chopped scallions. Patties can be formed and pan seared, and topped with a simple sauce of mayo and Greek yogurt or sour cream and either: garlic and roasted red pepper, lemon and capers, or cajun seasonings.
Snacks we typically eat:
Baby carrots, chopped cucumbers, grape tomatoes, sliced bell peppers, mushrooms (all can be dipped in a low calorie ranch or hummus), popcorn, nut or rice/seed crackers, any and all fruits including purees and dried fruits, nuts, jerky, yogurt, cheese, or banana ice cream.
I hope it helps - let me know if you have any questions or could make it through the entire thing, lol. Even if you don't go gung-ho with freezer cooking, you can certainly make things easier for you by grilling chicken and portioning it into serving baggies (to freeze or not), or making just one dish that is a one-pot meal (chili/stew/soup/casserole) and separating that out.
It can become addictive!