Top Healthy Plant-Based Staples for Your Freezer
We’re all looking for ways to make plant-based eating easier – so why not stock up your freezer? While fresh fruit and vegetables are certainly the best choices, there’s nothing wrong with having some easy meals ready to go right from your freezer to keep you and your family eating healthy. Here are some tips on what you should stock in your freezer:
Organic Fruits and Vegetables
Keep an eye out for sales at your local grocery or Farmer’s Market, and then stock up on fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to freeze for later. You can also take advantage of your garden by growing some of your favorite fruits and veggies to freeze for winter. Ideally, you want to blanch (a process where you quickly boil produce, then remove and place in ice water to stop cooking – this way you retain color and crunch) before freezing to ensure they don’t discolor and to preserve quality. When you’re ready, many vegetables can be thawed and reheated, or added to soups, sauces, etc. Fruit is fairly straightforward when it comes to freezing. Simply wash fruit, let dry, then freeze on a parchment-lined cookie sheet (so you can use pieces individually) before transferring to freezer bags or containers. Larger fruit, such as peaches, should be cut into slices or diced prior to freezing. Once thawed, frozen fruit may become a bit mushy – but still tastes just as good! You can use frozen fruit in smoothies and baking, as well as adding to warm breakfasts or desserts. See this guide for instructions on how to prepare and freeze fresh produce.
Homemade Soups & Beans
Most soups freeze very well, making them a prime candidate for large batches so you can have quick and easy meals down the road. Bean, rice, broth, and pureed soups are the best choices for freezing – simply let cool, fill freezer bags, let out any extra air and seal. When preparing soups from frozen, let the bag thaw overnight and then warm slowly. If you like preparing beans and know how much of a pain it is to wait for beans to soak overnight and then cook, why not make a triple batch and save some trouble down the road? After cooking, simply let beans cool and fill freezer bags. The beans will keep for up to six months and can be tossed into a chili or soup without thawing.
Herbs & Spices
Fresh herbs and spices are certainly the best option to add zest to your meal, but as summer winds down you might be looking to capitalize on your herb garden now, before the cooler fall weather takes its toll. While there are several ways to freeze herbs and spices, this method seems to provide the best balance of convenience and flavor:
- Chop herbs/spices finely
- Place in ice cube tray
- Top with water
- Freeze overnight
- Place cubes in freezer bag
*Save time by combining steps 1 and 3 with a food processor That’s it! When you need some flavor, simply toss a cube into the pot and let melt. This method is perfect for soups, stews, sauces, and more.
Nuts & Seeds
If you love nuts and seeds but balk at the price, go bulk! Buying bulk nuts and seeds locally or online is easy and can offer some serious savings. To freeze, simply bag and toss into the freezer – they’ll keep up to six months (sometimes longer). Keep in mind that for long-term freezing you might want to double bag the nuts to prevent them from picking up other flavors in the freezer.
To avoid the dreaded “mystery” bags in your freezer, label all bags with the type of food and date frozen. It can also help to keep an inventory next to your freezer (or in your kitchen), so you know what’s available. Check your inventory regularly and plan a meal or two a week that uses your frozen groceries, so they don’t go to waste!