As I was drafting my post about recipes that include shelf stable foods, I started to think of a lot of other things I wanted to tell you guys, so I ended up creating this post.
There are a lot of ways we can make our foods last longer and I wanted to share those with you as well as some tips for choosing healthier canned and frozen items at the grocery store.
- Choose options that have no or low salt, as much as possible pick the ones canned in water
- Thoroughly rinse all beans, lentils, veggies and fruits under cold water in a colander
- These are generally the most cost-effective way to purchase beans, chickpeas and lentils. You can buy these foods canned too, which is totally fine – just be sure to rinse them well
- When you cook with dried goods like lentils, beans, peas, quinoa, couscous, rice, etc., it helps to soak these foods first in cold water, changing it every hour or two. This will remove any debris as well as help making the food easier to cook, digest and absorb.
- When you cook these foods, slow and steady is better. Simmer them for a long time vs. boiling them, this will also help your body digest these high protein, high fiber foods.
- If you don’t have time to soak them or you forget, just rinse them a few times very well before the cooking process
- Pay attention to the labels and ingredients and choose options that aren’t frozen in any kind of sauce or with salt added
Tips for Batch Cooking and Freezing
- Recycled plastic containers work well to freeze foods in (i.e. large yogurt or margarine containers)
- Zip lock bags also work well for freezing foods
- Don’t sweat the small stuff! If a recipe calls for dried thyme and you don’t have any just do a google search for substitutions – there is often another herb or spice you can use in place of what you’re missing
Foods that Freeze Well
There might be a lot more foods than you realize that can be stored in the freezer until you need them. Easily freezable foods include:
- Nuts, seeds and flour (it will extend their shelf life)
- Uncooked pizza or bread dough
Money Savings Tips
- Dried foods are often the most affordable. A bag of dried beans is much cheaper than cooked, canned beans. Canned beans are also a good, cost effective option too. Beans and lentils are also a great way to get your protein that are much cheaper than meat
- Check out the nearly expired section of the grocery store. You can often freeze a lot of these foods for use later. Here are some examples: Vegetables: clean and chop, then freeze them to make your own, cheaper frozen vegetables. Fruits: berries are great for freezing, just clean them and pop them in the freezer to add to smoothies and bowls of oatmeal. Cheese: if the portion is large, cut it into smaller blocks and wrap it for the freezer, then take it out as needed for sliced cheese, or shred it and freeze it to add to casseroles
- Plain oats are a great breakfast staple and are often much cheaper than boxed cereal. When cooking them add things like frozen fruit for some added sweetness and flavour then sprinkle it with slivered almonds or chopped walnuts. When it comes to dressing up your oats the sky is the limit on the kinds of add-ins you can use (tip: goodle “overnight oats” for hundreds of ideas)
Here is a list of produce that will store well in cool dark places, they don’t have to go into the fridge! Some of these you might be familiar with already:
- Sweet potato
- Winter squash
One more thing about lentils
There are many kinds of lentils to choose from. For the most part you can substitute any of them in a recipe except for red lentils.
Red lentils tend to break down more. They’re used in recipes for dahl (one of my favourites!) and the cooked result is a mashed consistency. I love adding them to creamy, blended soups for a fiber and protein boost that helps thicken up the soup. I don’t recommend substituting with red lentils – keep the red ones for the recipes calling for red lentils.
One last thing about cheese
- While I mentioned earlier that you can grate and freeze cheese for use later, I suggest buying fresh parmesan if you can and if you have the appropriate kind of grater (microplane or fine grater) because it is more cost effective than pre-shredded parmesan.
- The same goes for all kinds of cheese (unless you find it on sale) – it is cheaper to buy it in bricks and grate it yours
If you haven’t yet checked out my last post using many of these ingredients in over ten healthy recipes (including a grocery list) you can get access to it by clicking here.
And lastly, I want to share a video with you all that I found posted on YouTube. A doctor created this video to help us all understand the ways we can safely shop for and unpack our groceries at home to reduce the risk of exposure to contagions.