We have two freezers; one inside our home that has the ice maker and is pretty small, and one outside that is paired with the refrigerator where we keep most beverages.
The garage freezer died, just decided to stop working and sent me into a panic because that is where we keep the majority of our meat, seafood, anything that is larger than pint sized containers of ice cream and my precious Vita Tops.
This has spurred me to start getting a little more creative with our meals and pull out some proteins I almost forgot I had, so if I am looking at the bright side of things, my taste buds have been surprised and happy and I had some inspiration for a WIAW post I did not anticipate.
So I give you, WIAW, the great freezer clean-out!
As always, thanks Jen for initiating such a fun part of the week. It certainly provides me with a break from the more heavy posts and hopefully introduces you to some new products you might be interested in trying.
I am sure you have seen a few of these items before, but a lot of the questions I get are about things I keep on hand to help me keep up with my meal plan; especially since Ryan (my main support system) has a crazy schedule and is not always home for accountability purposes, and I lunch on my own 90% of the time.
What I am about to share are the answers, because the less I have to think about preparation, the easier it is for my mind to accept and make healthier choices.
(Over thinking= second guessing= ED interference= BAD decisions…you get the picture)
My Favorite Proteins
Protein is the base of any meal. Whether you live a vegetarian lifestyle or not, we all need good quality, muscle building protein. I ALWAYS keep a decent variety of meat/meat substitutes on hand so neither Ryan or I get bored with our dinners. Here are a few of my favorites….
Al Fresco Chicken Sausages (http://www.alfrescoallnatural.com/default.aspx)
I LOVE chicken sausage; especially since Al Fresco has so many different flavors. The Sweet Italian is fabulous to add to pasta, or veggies for a Mediterranean flair, and the Buffalo makes a mean Mexican salad when coupled with Wholly Guacamole (I keep that in the freezer too!). I really haven’t sampled a type I did not like.
Trust me, this is saying a lot considering, the word “sausage” turned me away from anything close to this before, but after my mom brought these home from a store in New Jersey, and we used them to make homemade pizza, I was pretty much hooked by first bite.
Now, there are two different packs in our house at all times, and Ryan has no idea I swapped out his old pork links for this more wholesome selection.
Now I am hoping a store near me gets the meatballs because Al Fresco makes great products that I feel good about putting in my body….and they sounds absolutely fabulous 🙂
Do you hear that Al Fresco meatballs, please come to central PA, thanks!
Perdue Perfect Portions Italian Style (http://www.perdue.com/perfectportions/)
I love all Perdue products, but the Italian marinated Perfect Portion Breasts are literally PERFECT for a quick easy meal.
Right now I am loving them as “Bruschetta Chicken;” covered in fresh tomatoes, onions, balsamic , basil and garlic.
If you simply sauté diced tomatoes and onion, in a little garlic and balsamic, then adorn with fresh basil, you get an excellent, fresh lunch or dinner in less than half an hour.
Take my word, its delicious.
The Original Gardenburger
I know there are a million veggie burger brands out there, and I do enjoy some Boca and Morningstar Farms varieties, but my go-to is always the Original Gardenburger.
Its not nearly as expensive as Dr. Praeggers, even though I hear wonderful things about those, and I really enjoy the more grainy texture because of the rice.
A little ketchup, mustard and pickles, and you have yourself a pretty delectable veggie-friendly lunch!
I also keep things like a bag of shrimp, Trader Joes 96/4 hamburger patties, ground turkey, etc. for cooking purposes, but the three items mentioned above are my staples that you will never visit my freezer without seeing.
And what would these delectable proteins be without some accompaniments?!
Alexia Sweet Potato Fries (http://www.alexiafoods.com/)
I personally like the Chipotle version of this side dish, but I got to try a few others at the Food Network Food and Wine Festival last year in NYC and they were all fantastic.
These are fast, yummy, and you can often find a coupon on their website….all win-wins in my book!
I don’t really buy any specific brand, just whatever is on sale, but I ALWAYS have frozen broccoli at our house. It is one of our favorite vegetables and gets used for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
You cannot go wrong with some good old steam fresh broc.
Trader Joes Very Cherry Blend….thank you Healthy Diva for turning me onto this gem!
Vita Tops (http://www.vitalicious.com/)
Are you sick of me talking about these yet?
Have you had one?
If so, you understand. They are AMAZING and I cannot wait for Vita Pizzas to debut this week! Hooray!!!
Heart Thrives and Suncakes (http://www.suncakes.com/)
These are awesome! But I have never seen them in a store near me so when I order them I try to do so in the most economical way possible…which typically is a larger order than I eat in a shelf life.
Good news….they can be frozen! And are actually DELICIOUS when warmed up so I don’t mind stocking my shelves.
Personally I like the Heart Thrives because everything is more fun when eaten in a cute shape, but both are wonderful and feel-good-food so I would highly suggest checking them out.
Yes I freeze my yogurt.
If you thaw it a few hours before you are ready to eat, it is exactly like my favorite self-serve spots and a lot better for the wallet.
I pull it out in the morning, throw it in my lunch box and by noon it is the perfect creamy, cool texture for a summer….or really, any….day!
All the fruit flavors are fantastic but Vanilla Chocolate Chunk, you are sinful.
If I want something SUPER easy, am starving when I get home from work, or am struggling and need more balanced options I do keep a few frozen dinners on hand.
I know I have raved about my favorite Kashi steam meals, and the Pesto Pasta Primavera, but there are some other options I have consumed recently that are certainly worth a note.
Morningstar Farms Vegetarian Lasagna
I used to buy this one a lot but kind of forgot about it until it was on sale at my supermarket. I love the addition of carrots and spinach to this classic Italian dish, and even though pasta is still one of my most feared foods, this is a great transition for me to continue getting comfortable with the dinner-time genre.
Portion controlled carbs seem to be helpful to challenge myself, but not freak out to the point where I completely derail and compensate later.
Trader Joes Pizza Primavera
This is another choice that although pizza is scary, I can thoroughly enjoy this version without a total breakdown.
Because it is low calorie I often top it with some Al Fresco Chicken Sausage and other veggies to actually satisfy my needs.
I ate three of these in the span of a week they are THAT good! Maybe you should buy one and see for yourself, but I promise they are excellent!
*All opinions expressed in this post are completely my own. I was not endorsed by any of these brands.
Hopefully this provided you with a few new ideas that you might want to try when you are in a pinch.
I am sure as we continue emptying our freezer I will come across more, but you are stuck with me for many more Wednesdays which gives me an abundance of opportunities to share 🙂
Have an awesome day and happy eating!!!