If you’re counting both calories and pennies at the moment, you might find the two aims clash pretty regularly. Unhealthy food can often seem like the cheapest option, especially when many food books and blogs suggest healthy vegetable recipes that include pricey and exotic ingredients, and you have kids to feed. But eating well on a budget is possible, especially with the help of one very handy appliance: the freezer.
Freezers are actually a pretty powerful weapon in the quest for easy, cheap, and healthy food for the whole family. In this article, we explain how to use them to their maximum potential.
- Regular cooking in large batches
The best thing about a freezer is that it lets you make plenty of healthy, balanced meals in advance and then eat them later on. Most foods can be left for up to three months in the freezer before you have to clear them out, so simply cook meals when you have more time and defrost them when you have less.
One great approach is to set aside 2-3 days when your children will be occupied and you won’t be tied up with work to make some meals in bulk. Find a few favourite recipes or look up some new ones you want to try – there are plenty of healthy vegetable recipes available online. Once each meal is prepared, you can freeze it in handy portion sizes, ready for week nights and busy days.
Top tip: If you’re concerned about how long foods will last in the freezer, don’t worry – there’s an app for that.
- Discount shopping and freezing
Another great way to eat well on a budget is to do some discount shopping and then freeze things on the day of purchase. Supermarkets generally knock down items to extremely low prices just before closing. If you go at the right time, you’ll be able to find a whole range of healthy, tasty food much cheaper than usual. Bring it home and freeze it that night.
Top tip: Freezers can also be useful if you’ve just celebrated a special occasion or gone somewhere unusual to pick up food, like farmers’ markets or Christmas markets. Rather than trying to get through everything before it goes to waste, freeze half and enjoy it later on in the year.
- Leftovers and limiting waste
Our third and final way to use your freezer to eat well for less is to take advantage of its waste avoiding powers. Many children go through fussy eating phases, and it’s common to prepare a meal only to find that they won’t even begin to eat it. If this is the case, don’t fret or throw the food away. Put it into a plastic bag or storage pot and pop it into the freezer. You can then defrost this in a few weeks to have for lunch, or transform into a tasty new meal which your little fussy eater might love.
Top tip: If have a garden and you find you’re often throwing half eaten food away (since that can’t be frozen), consider setting up your own compost bin. All that food can become cheap fuel for some beautiful plants.
Those are just a few of our favourite cheap, healthy cooking tips. Freezers really are a secret weapon in the kitchen. Fill yours up, then enjoy the fruit (and vegetables) of your labour down the line.