In the face of Covid19, it’s imperative that we all do our parts. The most important step we can take to help “flatten the curve” is to go into self-isolation with our families. This means fewer trips to the grocery store. As a consequence of this, you’ll probably have less fresh produce in your household. Here’s how to stock your kitchen with healthy staples that will last.
Stock Your Kitchen Freezer
You can absolutely enjoy healthy (and tasty) meals without needing fresh produce in the kitchen. In fact, research has demonstrated that frozen fruits and vegetables may in fact contain more nutrients than fresh produce! Basically, from the moment the fruit or vegetable is harvested, the nutrient content value begins to decline naturally. With frozen produce they take the harvested products and flash freeze them, thus preserving their nutrient content. With fresh produce on the other hand, if you’re purchasing the bulk pack (that’s now on special and beginning to look pretty ripe) because it’s near its expiry date, then you’re getting relatively fewer nutrients from that batch than from the freshy harvested. You’d in fact be better off purchasing the frozen option which is often just as cost-effective as the discounted pack.
Here is our guide to stocking your freezer with healthy, cost-effective staples to last you and your family throughout self-isolation:
1. Frozen Vegetables
Although this probably didn’t need research to confirm, studies have shown that stocking your freezer with frozen vegetables increases your likelihood of meeting your daily vegetable requirements. Here are our favourites:
- Broccoli is a fantastic source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, potassium and fiber. Serve sautéed with a bit of olive oil, roasted in a pre-heated roasting pan, cooked as part of a soup or casserole, or steamed as a side dish.
- Spinach is rich in iron, calcium and potassium. Frozen spinach is almost better than fresh (except in salads) because it’s already been shrunk to a reasonable volume. Use frozen spinach in smoothies, cook and serve in stuffed mushrooms or add to a lasagna.
- Peas are the quintessential frozen food and hold up really well over time. Add them to fried rice, blend into a puree, or add to soups and casseroles. Our favourite: sauté some spinach with olive oil, add frozen peas, then add fresh mint right before serving for a delicious vegetable side dish.
- Cauliflower provides approximately 60% of your daily vitamin C needs, as well as a good dose of vitamin K. Both frozen cauliflower rice and florets are available in most grocery stores. Serve frozen cauliflower steamed, cooked and mashed, added to a soup, or sautéed on it’s own. Our favourite: sauté chopped onion and garlic, cauliflower rice and grated broccoli (“broccoli rice”), season and serve.
- Chopped Onions are in many dishes for their ability to add flavor. Keep chopped onions on hand in the freezer for quick and easy access.
- Green Beans add extra iron, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin A to your diet. Much like spinach, it’s hard to tell the difference between cooked fresh and cooked frozen beans. They retain their crunch and colour very well.
2. Frozen Fruits
Fresh fruits are fantastic snacks to grab on the go, but frozen fruits will last you a long time and are actually very versatile.
- Berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and more) are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. The flavor and beautiful colours of berries hold up well in the freezer. Use them in smoothies, healthy homemade ice-cream or sorbets and other dessert recipes, baked goods, sauces or coulis.
- Tropical fruits (banana, mango, peaches, pineapple and more) are other rich sources of antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C. Much like berries, they can be used in a variety of recipes. Our favourite: thawed frozen banana works just as well as ripe banana in a banana bread recipe.
3. Nuts and Seeds (and their Flours)
If you’re not doing so already, then you should be storing your nuts and seeds in the freezer. They make for healthy, easy to grab on the go snacks for the whole family. Due to their fat content, nuts and seeds are best stored in the freezer to avoid them going rancid via exposure to light, oxygen and heat. Nuts and seeds can be used straight from the freezer and require no thawing time.
If you enjoy alternatives to wheat flour, you should ideally store these in the freezer. Nut meals and flours such as almond, macadamia, coconut, flaxseed and more can be kept for up to 12 months in the freezer. The same applies to wheat germ, rice bran and hemp seeds or hemp seed powder.
Depending on your dietary pattern, you should consider stocking your kitchen freezer with a number of other staples. These may include organic meats and fish, sourdough or wholegrain breads, vegetable or wholegrain wraps, organic or GMO-free tofu, sauces such as pesto or hummus or tomato. Whenever you make a meal for the family, choose to make additional servings that you can portion and freeze for later use.
Set Your Family Up for Success
Preparation is key when it comes to achieving your health goals. If you want to keep yourself and your family healthy, then see your kitchen as the stepping-stone to success. Fill it with wholesome fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and more. If you keep healthy food available in your kitchen, you are far more likely to make the healthy choice and prepare a wholefood-based meal for your family.