What’s lurking in your freezer? Do you actually know what’s hiding underneath the layers of freezer burned hamburger buns? I have a feeling it might be time to whip on a pair of rubber gloves and do a complete freezer detox, getting rid of anything unhealthy that doesn’t belong in there. Then comes the fun part of re-stocking with foods that will make you jump with healthful joy!
Let’s get started:
Pull on clean gardening gloves or rubber gloves (to protect your hands from freezer burn), and remove everything from your freezer, and place on the kitchen table or counter.
Do I need to defrost?
Only if you have a lot of built-up ice on the surface walls (more than 1/4 inch), or spills that are frozen on the floor of the freezer.
If you feel that you do need to defrost for energy efficiency, follow this simple guide.
Begin label reading for nasties. Here are the ingredients that I want you to flag:
- CORN: (modified corn starch, corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed corn gluten) I found these kinds of corn derived ingredients in virtually everything. Why? It’s a cheap by-product of corn production – fattening with absolutely zero nutritional benefits. Almost always genetically modified.)
- Artificial Sweeteners and Artificial or Flavors
- MSG/E621 (Monosodium Glutamate)
- Dyes: Red #3, Red #40, E124, Yellow #6 (E110), Yellow Tartrazine (E102), Blue #1 & Blue #2, E133
- BHA & BHT (E320)
- Potassium Bromate
- Propyl Gallate
- Butane (Chicken Nuggets)
- Enriched Flour
- Partially hydrogenated oils
- Modified Food Starch (this could be corn or wheat) This is in so many frozen foods and should be avoided especially if you are gluten-intolerant.
- Soybean Oil – often a a trans fat (silent killer), and almost always genetically modified.
- Palm Oil – this is completely unsustainable, and is wrecking our precious rain forest. I avoid palm oil as much as I can.
- Sodium Aluminum Phosphate
Take a look at the ingredient list on this frozen pizza, and check how many of the above additives are in it:
3. Dumping Time
Now you have to decide what’s staying and what has to go. You’ve already done your label-reading, so get rid of foods that contain any of the above ingredients, but I would start looking at the quality of the foods you have in there, and how long they’ve been stored:
What about the sell-by-date?
You can keep most frozen foods past their sell-by date if the package hasn’t been opened. The sell-by date is more about the taste and texture of the food, which will break down over time.
If the foods in my freezer have been in there for more than 6-8 months, I usually dump them. If I haven’t used them in that long, there’s a reason.
What about freezer-burn?
Freezer burn is usually caused by poorly packaged foods, or foods that have been in there way too long. Although safe to eat, these foods will have suffered in the the taste and texture department, and will just taste “off”. I would dump them for sure.
4. Restocking Time
Now is the fun part. Here’s what I recommend you look for when re-stocking your pantry
– Loads of organic fruits and veggies: You will always use them for smoothies, soups, stews, casseroles etc. Frozen foods that are flash frozen at their peak freshness may contain more nutrients than fresh organic veggies that are a bit past their peak freshness. Also, organic frozen berries and such can be way cheaper than their fresh counterparts, especially when they are out of season.
– Smoothie packs such as Sambazon Acai Smoothie packs. I always keep these in my freezer for Acai bowls and smoothies.
– Veggie Burgers: I always have veggie burgers to hand. I love Hilary’s Eat Well best because they are made entirely of healthy organic grains, which most veggie burgers aren’t.
– Frozen Treats: Instead of ice cream, look for sorbets and fresh fruit pops. For a huge indulgence, try So Delicious’s new Dark Chocolate Truffle Cashew Ice Cream
– Entrees: Amy’s Kitchen is always a good choice for entrees in the frozen food aisle.
TWO USEFUL TIPS:
- Make your own smoothie packs. This will save you time and money, and is sooooooo satisfying!
- Go bargain-hunting in the frozen aisle of your local grocery store. I went this week and bought 5 bags of frozen blueberries, green beans, and pineapple chunks because they were all on sale (with my loyalty card). I got my organic blueberries for $3.99, and in the fresh produce department, the organic ones were $5.99 for the same amount!