Frozen foods on the rise in a cold economy?

How stocked is your freezer?

On the way to work this morning, NPR covered a segment of news on how people are turning to frozen foods more and more in lieu of both dining out and cooking at home. The report explored how the current economy has increased demand on our time and budget and, in turn, resulted in dietary changes. It seems that instead of taking the time to really shop or cook, people are turning to the frozen food aisle for convenient, cheap food. Which would make sense to avoid the hassle of making dinner when unemployed and time is better spent job-hunting. But how cheap and convenient is it really?

Short on time and money? Try freezing food made with fresh ingredients for inexpensive, time-saving meals on week nights!

Short on time and money? Try freezing food made with fresh ingredients for inexpensive, time-saving meals on week nights! Here I have frozen white chili, turkey, Farmer's Market pasta, bread, strawberries, and more.

To use an example referenced on NPR…

  • A one pound frozen bag of french fries costs approximately $4.
  • A five pound bag of fresh potatoes costs about $4.
  • So is it really cheaper to spend the same amount of money and only get 20% of the product?
  • As for more convenient, it takes a whopping five minutes to microwave a baked potato (and a few minutes to let it cool) and I’m willing to wager a bet that a baked potato (even with a little butter and cheese) is healthier for you than french fries in a bag.
  • The beauty of buying a five pound bag of potatoes is not only price and convenience, but also the easy ability to purchase locally and support a Georgia farmer who may also be feeling the pinch of the economy.

Maybe it’s time we revisited food’s humble beginnings for a moment… What happened to the idea of preserving and canning and freezing? YOU can do the same thing as the grocery store! And probably do it better!! All it requires is a grocery list, a little time on Sunday afternoon, and a freezer.

Why not come up with a list of some of your favorite foods? Or the frozen ones you find yourself buying in the grocery store? Write down the ingredients, head to the store, and then dedicate an hour of your Saturday or Sunday afternoon to cooking these recipes (which is still far less time than it would take to cook several meals during the week). Divide them up into appropriate portions for you or your family and then stick them in the freezer. Instead of spending a lot of money to get a little product at the store, you can pull your own food out of the freezer on a busy week night, stick it in the microwave, and hit defrost. You can even double or triple the recipes to save yourself time down the road.

Here are some ideas for foods to make and freeze:

  • Chili (white chili, red chili, etc.)
  • Burgers (black bean, vegetarian, beef, etc.)
  • Spaghetti sauces
  • A loaf of sliced bread (freeze it immediately, then pull out a slice or two when you need it. That way you don’t waste a loaf by not eating it in time and the freezer retains a surprising amount of freshness when you go to defrost the bread later.)
  • Soups, broths
  • Lasagna, casseroles, etc.
  • Fresh fruit to use in smoothies later

You get the idea. So what’s in your freezer? (If Publix frozen yogurt Moose Tracks is not in there, you might want to check it out…)

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