By simply portioning and freezing foods, you can save buckets; literally!

Before anyone has even had the chance to consider seconds, my dad is in the pot bucketing up all the leftovers. We do call them buckets because he takes for lunch more than me and my mom combined ate for dinner. But, he does not snack. He eats breakfast at 7am, lunch at noon-on-the-dot and hopes for dinner before 6. No dessert, no mid morning coffee and a treat and no tea and bickie at 8pm when he makes my mom one. This may work for some. To have three large meals and nothing else. I however like to snack. Following my dads suit, I take home made cookies, cake, fruit bars, tarts and other treats to work or play. I generally have a salad for lunch followed two or three snacks in the hours before or after. When I make my own ‘sweet treats’ they are refined sugar free, full of raw nutritious fats, high in protein and ‘fortified’ with raw nuts or live honey.

It is not so difficult to find three good base recipes. One for a pie or tart crust, one for a biscut/cookie base and one for a plain cake. From there you work to make a few flavours of each that you like. If you make the base recipes low in cooked fats and sweetened with minimal amounts of honey or dried fruit paste then you can add a decadently tasty and healthy ‘icing’. A few good tips are that: chocolate is healthy and healing if not eaten with any dairy, fig/date/apricot/apple/pear pastes act to replace both fat textures and sugar tastes in baking, quality free range or organic eggs add protein, as does using nut flours, mixing different types of flours in one recipe means you get more balanced nutrients.

Avoid at all costs, white flour, white sugar and ‘white fats’ such as margarine. Don’t even use ‘sugar’ if you want your treats to be good for your body and mood. Sugar will make your mood swing and hips swing. Natural sugars in ‘whole’ flours (stoneground), fresh or dried fruits, raw honey or even maple syrup are a much better source of long lasting energy that your body uses rather than stores.

When it comes to savouries, I have found that potatoes do not freeze so well, with the exception of mash. Things like a cottage pie, lasagne, chilli con (or non) carne freeze very well. My rule is to portion and freeze lunches with a high carbohydrate/starch content and a high protein proportion. I don’t freeze fresh vegetables or mainly vegetable based dishes because they go soggy and loose the vitamins they were so fabulous for. Rather take smaller portions of a high carb and protein meal and supplement it with a side salad or fresh fruit/vegetables.

Things like toasted sandwiches freeze really well, I buy a loaf of fresh bread and fill with roasted veggie and hummus, cheese with ham and mustard or left over roasts with a tasty sauce. They can be taken frozen from the fridge because they defrost in time to toast at lunch. I also make pies in muffin tins, or fill them with stew and top with vege mash, or thai currys and take instant noodles to have with them. Risotto rolled into balls and crumbed then baked and frozen make a great lunch treat. Make sure you have enough to eat by taking your frozen meal, a salad to have with it, a snack that will last till the next day if you don’t eat it and some fresh or dried fruit.

When you plan to freeze lunches, either make extra for a dinner or make it up specially. Portion them as you will want to eat them. I really like muffin tins for this because they act like ice trays. Once frozen tip the meals out and store in a plastic bag. Always make sure you date and label, or at least add new items to the bottom of the stack, or you may end up with freezer burnt food.

Take the foods you like and have them when you like. Family and personal favourites can be made as healthy options and indulged in as delicious lunches. By freezing you portion, by portioning you control what you eat. Like I mentioned though, it is important to take enough additional healthy, tasty, snacks to help resist the temptation of a 3pm jam doughnut. Having said that, the doughnut tastes so much better if had once a month when you just really need one!