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With rising energy bills and food prices going up (opens in new tab), families everywhere are feeling the impact of the cost of living crisis. Trying food hacks (opens in new tab), using a supermarket loyalty card (opens in new tab) and switching to the cheapest supermarket (opens in new tab) can help shoppers to save money on food (opens in new tab), but a weekly meal plan can also help to keep food costs down and reduce food waste (opens in new tab).
To mark the first-ever Frozen Food Week, TV nutritionist Lily Soutter (opens in new tab) has created Aldi's frozen family meal plan PDF (opens in new tab) to help families eat well for less thanks to some simple frozen food swaps. As well as helping families spend less than £29.77 per week, the plan features recipes which are packed with nourishing ingredients and form part of a well-balanced diet. Dishes include King Prawn Fish Pie, Pesto Chicken Traybake and Plant Sausages with Mustardy Mash. Each family meal costs as little as £1.98 or under 50p per head using items available at Aldi.
In addition to working on Aldi's frozen food meal plan, Lily has shared these top tips for making the most of your freezer:
Lily Soutter's top 10 frozen food tips:
- 1. Don’t fear frozen fish - Frozen fish is a convenient way to incorporate the government-recommended two portions of fish a week into our diet. Try adding a frozen fish mix to your fish pie or step it up a notch with Aldi’s Jumbo King Prawns. For those essential omega-3 fats, defrost some sea bass or salmon and grill with olive and lemon juice. The key to using frozen fish is to safely defrost by following the instructions on the food label.
- 2. Get savvy on the food you never thought you could freeze - Ever tried freezing bread? Simply slice first and freeze to extend the shelf-life. If you’re tired of those mouldy avocado halves in the fridge, simply cube your avocado, and freeze. Frozen avocado provides a lovely cool creamy flavour to smoothies and is a source of fibre and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats! If you’re looking to reduce waste, freezing herbs and spices is a must. Try chopping garlic or onion, add to ice cube trays with a dash of oil, and freeze. Pesto and tomato sauces also freeze well in ice-cube trays and is a great way to portion out just what you need. You can even freeze pizza dough and cheese, which makes pizza night much more convenient.
- 3. Freeze food flat - If you’re short on freezer space, maximise storage by placing your food into freezer bags flat on a table whilst ensuring that excess air is removed. Stack the bags into the freezer flat and aim to leave no water on the outside otherwise they may stick together. Try portioning out your frozen meals and sauces into separate bags rather than one large container. This means you can use just what you need for each meal, and it’s much quicker to defrost. Use the same method for storing frozen goods such as berries and sweetcorn as it’s much more space efficient than storing goods in one large clump.
- 4. Stock up on frozen fruit - It’s just as nutritious as fresh. There’s a big misconception that frozen fruit is less nourishing than fresh, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Research has illustrated that frozen produce retains vitamins, minerals and even antioxidants, which are beneficial to health. Better yet, they’re often cheaper than their fresh counterparts, particularly when enjoying produce out of season.
- 5. Eat your frozen greens - The old saying ‘eat your greens’ shouldn’t be ignored. Broccoli, green beans and peas are jam-packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals. With just 8% of children and 27% of adults consuming their 5-A-day many of us are simply not eating enough. Having frozen greens with a long shelf life can increase our chances of including them without our diet.
- 6. Freeze your meat (and plant-based alternatives) - Frozen meat is the perfect solution for a busy household; it’s adaptable as you can defrost and cook it whenever is convenient without the pressure of it going off. Meat provides the high-quality protein required for maintaining bone and muscle health, but it can quickly spoil with a short shelf-life. Therefore, having a batch of frozen meat to hand in the freezer can mean fewer trips to the supermarket and less waste.
- 7. Save time and hassle with this one frozen ingredient - The hard nature of butternut squash requires patience and some serious work in the kitchen. Opting for Aldi’s frozen butternut squash chunks can eliminate the hassle of chopping and prepping this vegetable. What's more, there is no compromise on the nutrition profile! Roast the butternut squash from frozen with herbs and oil and try blending it into a delicious soup.
- 8. Say goodbye to watery eyes with frozen onion - In the busy world we live in today, frozen onion is one of the biggest time savers. Pre-chopped and ready to cook, there’s no faffing with peeling - and no watery eyes. Simply add a handful of Aldi’s frozen onion to your dish to shave off minutes of prep time. This frozen veg tastes excellent in a tomato-based sauce for pizza and pasta dishes, in homemade burgers, fish pies, soups, casseroles and stews. The list is endless!
- 9. Always label your frozen food using a permanent marker - If you find yourself defrosting your evening dinner without knowing what it is or if it’s still even edible, labelling your frozen food will be a game-changer! Using a permanent marker on freezer bags, mark what the item is and the date that it was cooked. Whilst frozen food has a significantly longer shelf-life than fresh, it doesn’t last forever, and labelling can help prioritise which freezer goods to consume first.
- 10. Defrost and reduce food waste - Whether you're batch-cooking freezer meals or freezing leftovers, your freezer can be your best friend in the kitchen! And there's nothing more frustrating than precious space being taken up by blocks of ice. Defrosting the freezer is hardly a beloved task for most of us but doing so can help you to reduce food waste and even save energy.
Foodie influencer and mum Ashleigh, aka Cardiff Mum, has joined forces with Aldi to put the meal plan to the test and review the recipes for Frozen Food Week, sharing them with her 251k followers on Instagram.
Ashleigh says her followers had been ‘crying out’ for a frozen food meal plan due to its ease, low cost, and ability to help shoppers to minimise food waste.
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An Aldi spokesperson said: 'The meal plans are designed to provide quick and easy inspiration for families who may be finding mealtimes strenuous on the bank account during the ongoing crisis. These recipes will help people make their money go further whilst being assured their family is getting the nutrition they need. Using frozen food also helps to keep food waste to a minimum.'
The Aldi frozen food meal plan initiative, which covers breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a family of four for five full days, has been devised to help shoppers tackle the cost-of-living crisis. This follows reports that around nine in 10 households have felt the impact of rising costs, with 35% of Brits now cutting back on spending on food shopping and essentials, according to official data from the Office for National Statistics.
Harley Street and TV Nutritionist Lily Soutter said: 'From nourishing breakfasts to hearty dinners, our meal plan – created using a range of Aldi’s frozen foods – has breakfast, lunch, and dinner covered for a family of four for five days and is less than £2 per meal. This wonderfully nutritious and versatile plan we’ve created will not only help money go further but will also make mealtimes simpler and most importantly – affordable.'
'We know that families across the country will be feeling the effects of the cost-of-living crisis, so we’re determined to provide Aldi shoppers with the tips and tools they need to relieve any strain when it comes to putting food on the table. I’m delighted to be working with Aldi to support those looking to cut down on cost without compromising on quality and healthy eating.'
One way to save money is by cooking with an air fryer, slow cooker or microwave oven may instead of using an electric oven. Take a look at these deals: