Make your own healthy, diabetes-friendly freezer meals

Tips for freezing foods conveniently and safely

Meal planning when you have diabetes is important. It takes time and effort to create meals that give you just the right amount of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber without too much saturated fat. You can cook once, serve twice by doubling recipes and freezing one batch for future use. Package the foods in correct portion sizes, pop them in the freezer and they will be ready to go when you are.

Tips for creating your own frozen meals:
  • Frozen foods do not lose nutrient content, however not all foods freeze equally as well.
  • Cream based soups and casseroles lose quality of texture when reheated.
  • Wrap your packages well to prevent freezer burn.
  • Freeze your foods quickly. A two-inch-thick portion of food should be frozen within two hours. This keeps the food from growing large ice crystals that can affect the texture of the food and slows the growth of bacteria.  
  • Thaw your frozen foods in the refrigerator; don’t thaw foods on the counter or sink.
  • You can find the full recommendations on freezing and food safety on the USDA Website.
  • Michigan State University Extension offers classes on food preservation.

Pre-packaged frozen meals from the grocery store are convenient but are often very high in sodium and fat. Many healthy recipes can be found by searching for freezer friendly meals on the internet or visiting your local library for cookbooks. Look for recipes that feature lean proteins and lots of vegetables like this one from My Food Advisor and the American Diabetes Association:

Sloppy Janes

Start to finish: 30 minutes (20 minutes active)
Servings: 8

    • Nonstick cooking spray
    • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
    • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 1 pound lean (93 percent fat-free) ground turkey
    • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
    • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 1 Tablespoon hot sauce
    • 2 cups no-salt-added canned crushed tomatoes
    • 1 Tablespoon honey
    • ½ Teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 8 whole-wheat hamburger buns

Add cooking spray to non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, red bell pepper and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add turkey and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently until turkey is just cooked through. Add tomato paste, Dijon mustard, hot sauce, tomatoes, honey and ground black pepper. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Toast the hamburger buns. Fill each bun with ½ cup turkey mixture to make 8 sandwiches.

Tip: This recipe freezes will. Portion into freezer-safe containers.

Nutrition information: Calories: 250, Carbohydrates: 31g, Protein: 16g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1.6g, Sugars: 10g, Dietary Fiber: 5g, Cholesterol: 45mg, Sodium: 340mg

For the best diabetes care and nutrition always check with your healthcare team. For more on diabetes and nutrition, visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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