One of our biggest budget saving tips while increasing the vegetable content of our meals is to keep your freezer stocked with frozen veggies.
If this is not something that you have considered doing yet, cast your mind back to what you typically throw away. Bags of smelly spinach? Wrinkly carrots? The promise to yourself that you WILL use the whole cauliflower each time you put it in your trolley, only to toss it out 3 weeks later….?
There is a common misconception that fresh veggies are better than frozen in terms of nutrients. This may be true if those veggies have been plucked straight from your garden or local orchard. But often the veggies on our supermarket shelves have been there for more than five days. Comparatively, frozen veggies are picked and frozen straight away.
So the difference really comes down to taste and preference. Obviously fresh spinach leaves or kale will be tastier in a fresh salad, but for adding bulk to soups, casseroles, frittatas or a stir fry, frozen works just as well.
WHEN YOU MIGHT NEED TO CONSIDER FROZEN VEGGIES.
In summer paying $4.50 for a broccoli or $7 for a cauliflower seems like a distant memory, however veggie crops are at the mercy of the weather gods. In 2017, New Zealand recorded the highest amount of rain for the month of July, EVER. What this meant was a sudden shortage of spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and even potatoes. It got so bad, Bluebird was unable to keep up it’s usual production rate of potato chips.
Fortunately, because frozen veggies are picked and packaged earlier, they are less influenced by weather trends.
The same key guidelines around veggie consumption applies for frozen as well as fresh;
Get in plenty of greens. You can buy green veggies such as spinach, broccoli and kale. Watties does a great Super Greens blend for around $3.50 for a 500g bag. Remembering that spinach is wilted then frozen, the raw weight of 500g frozen is equivalent to about 2 kg!!
Include as much variety as possible. You can also buy frozen carrots, peas, corn, capsicum, cauliflower or specialty Asian veggies such as edamame beans and bok choy.
Frozen veggies are also convenient and they have a long freezer life 6-12 months. Even when you run out of fresh produce, if you have some frozen vegetables in your freezer you can whip up a frittata or stir fried rice in less than 30 minutes.
HOW TO USE FROZEN VEGGIES:
(Its sexier than you think).
Our favourite way to use frozen veggies is basically any way except for salad!!! Here are some great ideas.
Make a soup with some stock, chopped potato, frozen spinach and frozen cauliflower. Blend with 1 cup of cottage cheese and herbs and you have a meal packed with veggies, protein, fats and carbs.
Add frozen spinach or kale cubes to your smoothies, risotto or casseroles while cooking.
Make a pasta salad with cooked pasta - we love the San Remo Pulse Pasta for a great plant-based protein option, frozen peas feta and herbs. Delicious.
You can also add frozen spinach or peas to hummus or pesto for increased nutrition and flavour.
Lastly, here is a delicious tart recipe (pictured above) from Annabel Langbein. Use frozen spinach or kale and it is a cheap, tasty meat-free Monday option.