Cut Cooking Time and Reach Your Weight-Loss Goals With These 16 Meal-Prep Freezer Hacks
While making a week's worth of high-protein mason jar salads or a DIY salad bar is great to meal prep to keep in your fridge, don't forget to utilize your freezer! It's one of the best healthy eating and weight-loss tools you have. Here are some things you can prep ahead of time to freeze for quick and healthy food later.
Freezer Soup Packs
With this meal-prep freezer hack, you could be dipping bread into a hot bowl of soup in less than 30 minutes! Since finding a recipe and cutting up all those veggies are what take the most time, make these soup freezer packs. Keep a few in the freezer to grab for an easy, comforting dinner any day of the week.
If you're a fan of steel-cut oatmeal for keeping you full all morning long, this freezer hack is a huge timesaver. Just make a big batch on the stove or in the slow cooker and freeze smaller portions using a muffin tin. Pop the little oatmeal pucks into a freezer bag and a week of healthy, fiber-full breakfasts is ready.
Freeze Your Greens
Tired of tossing rotten greens week after week? This ice cube hack is a must. Pick up some BPA-free ice cube trays or baby food trays and buy a variety of greens. You can purée them separately in a food processor or blender or purée them together, adding a little water to yield a smooth consistency. Pour the purée into the little wells, attach the lids, and freeze them.
When you're ready to make your smoothie, just grab a few and throw them in your blender — it's a great timesaver. Or try adding a cube to overnight oats. You can also freeze kale, spinach, and other greens as is in baggies to use for smoothies or soups — just be sure to wash and reuse the bags.
Don't stop at oatmeal! You can cook up other grains, such as quinoa, rice, millet, and barley, and freeze those too. You can even combine two or more grains; it's a great, quick way to get some protein and fiber into your meal without having to spend 20 minutes cooking them up each time.
Cut up a variety of veggies like sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, and squash for roasting or sautéing, or cut up celery, onion, garlic, and ginger to have on hand for soups.
Freeze Cookie Dough
If you love to bake but know you just can't stop at one cookie, whip up your cookie dough and freeze the batter into ice cube trays. That way you can pop out one or two, bake those in your toaster oven, and indulge a little without the temptation to keep reaching for more.
If you know you have a sweet tooth, indulging it can satisfy cravings and prevent you from binging on an entire pint of ice cream later. Make a batch of a healthy dessert like these no-bake vegan brownies, creamy cookie dough freezer fudge, or vegan dark chocolate salted caramels so you can grab one and be done.
DIY Smoothie Packs
The hurdle of having to prepare your protein- and fiber-packed smoothie can make you want to skip it for a scone. So prep all the fruits and greens you use in your smoothies and freeze individual DIY smoothie packs — better yet, make a week's worth! It not only makes a fast breakfast even faster, but it also ensures you stick to a portion-perfect calorie amount.
Freeze Puréed Veggies
Not just for baby food, you can freeze puréed veggies like green beans, butternut squash, and carrots and add them to soups, smoothies, and sauces to increase the fiber and other nutrients.
Make a huge batch of dry beans in your slow cooker and then freeze them in half-cup servings. You can quickly microwave them to add to salads or cooked grains, or use a few bags for soup, casseroles, or burrito filling. Making your own beans not only saves money and tastes better, but it also cuts down on the gas!
If you're into protein in the morning to sustain your energy and always seem to be running out of eggs, this freezer hack is for you. Just scramble a dozen eggs, freeze them in muffin cups, and they'll stay good up to six months. This is the perfect hack if you own chickens and have a ton of eggs or if you have a generous neighbor who gives them to you for free!
Purée a can of beans, freeze the purée, and use these magical frozen bean cubes in anything you can think of. Add one to your bowl of oatmeal, throw a few in the blender when whipping up your kale smoothie, or mix them into pasta sauce, soups, or cooked whole grains. Each cube offers protein and fiber to keep you feeling full and energized longer and won't affect the taste of the dish.
Herbs and Greens
Flavoring your dishes with herbs is a healthy way to add flavor without a ton of calories. Growing your own or buying big bunches of herbs can save money, but not if you only use a small amount and end up throwing out the rest because they go bad before you have a chance to use them. Freeze leftovers in ice cube trays and add water or veggie broth. This also works well for greens you can add to smoothies, soups, and sauces.