Fresh or frozen, an ongoing discussion among those of us who like to have prepared meals readily available in our fridge, which do you prefer? For me, I have always preferred to have my freezer stocked so all I have to do is take out a selection of proteins and carbs, stick them in the fridge and I am set for the next few days. There is no waste this way and I really hate throwing away food especially expensive food! But then, there is a benefit to having meals, which have never been frozen; it really depends on what the meal is. Certain products freeze better than others; some are just not meant to be frozen ever. The key criteria I find most important with my prepared food are low fat and portioned correctly, convenient and easy to reheat and finally, it has to taste good! So whether they are frozen or refrigerated, they need to meet these criteria and in my opinion, there are many products out there that do.
But, if you are a person who just does not want to freeze your food, then you need to be prepared to schedule your meals and plan accordingly. Since the shelf life is an average of 4 days refrigerated then most of the prepared meals you buy will only be good for that amount of time, just make a mental note of the preparation date or expiration date on the label. If you change your mind or don’t feel like eating what you purchased, then you could end up tossing that $10 meal in the trash.
Bottom line, if you are buying prepared meals it is most likely the case you are doing it for convenience first. All of us prefer a freshly cooked meal straight from the oven to the table, but the reality is we just don’t always have the time to do this. Frozen items are the most convenient and economical and if reheated properly, taste equally as good. Here are a few tips if you decide to freeze meals you purchase:
1. Try and use within a month or two or freezer burn can occur, as most containers are not air tight or vacuum-sealed.
2. You can use your own vacuum-sealer and repack the food for longer freezer storage (I had several customers who did this.)
3. When you transfer your frozen meal from freezer to fridge, use a sharpie marker and note the date you d0 this, that way you’ll know the very last day to use in your refrigerator and won’t be confused with the original cook date or original expiration date already marked on the label.
3. Reheat evenly, if something is breaded try using a toaster oven to get crispy or heat at a lower power longer.
4. If you forget to thaw first, definitely heat your frozen meal at a lower power by at least 50% for longer.
5. Remember, you can always add 30 seconds or a minute but you can’t take away time if you over reheat.
Below is an example of a Fit n Fresh meal that is frozen, I have just taken and put it in my fridge so it will be ready for one of my meals the next few days. I prefer to thaw first so I don’t have to reheat as long. Notice how I marked the date on the label (in pink) just above the bar code. I know I have until Dec 2nd to use. I hope this helps you with planning and purchasing your meals so you have as little waste as possible and make eating healthy even more convenient.
*I’d love to read your reheating tips too, many of mine were from customers who shared their methods.
In good health,