THE BLOG
03/28/2013 05:47 pm ET | Updated May 28, 2013

Spring Clean Your Freezer

While working on a cooking piece one day, Chef Aida Koski went into my freezer for some ice and suddenly let out a loud gasp. I thought she had come across the dead bird my daughter was saving for the Spring when she could hold a proper funeral... but that wasn't it at all.

"Tracey, what's all this frozen food about?" she asked.

Quick to go on the defense I responded, "Well Miss Fancypants Chef, I am tired, constantly on the run, unable to handle too much of my children's whining about when dinner will be ready, and not the skilled chef that you are! So judge all you want but sometimes there's no other choice. And besides, all that frozen food is organic and gluten free -- so what's so bad about that?!"

Aida took my face in her hands and lovingly said, "I am going to help you. I know you need frozen foods sometimes, but you definitely don't need all of the preservatives and chemicals that come with them. Neither do your children. It's time to un-process your freezer."

It's nice when mommies get mommied.

What Do We Need to Consider When Un-Processing Our Freezers?

Ingredients
Take a look at the boxed items in your freezer. Do you know all of the ingredients listed, or can you even pronounce them all? You should know what it is that you are eating.

Shelf Life
If a product has a long shelf life or extended expiration date, it might be best to avoid it. Who knows what they have put in the food to make it last so long?

Claims of Natural Benefits
"Natural flavoring" or "natural coloring" does not necessarily mean natural. It may refer to a completely obscure product in your food, just as good at producing the flavor or color needed for that product.

Expenses
Is it really cheaper to buy boxed frozen foods than to buy ingredients in bulk and prepare meals for the freezer yourself? You may pay a little more initially, but you will get more meals out of your purchase in the long run.

Space
Can your freezer really fit that many boxes? They seem to take up a lot of room and often have lots of unnecessary extra packaging. Flat ziplock bags packed yourself may be more space efficient and decrease all of that clutter.

Cleaning Your Freezer and Starting Fresh

Aida explained the facts and proceeded to give me some easy recipes to make the change not only for my frozen foods, but for EVERYTHING! Now, when there's time, I set aside a free Sunday afternoon to cook like a mofo. My fridge is stocked for weeks with good, healthy food that's ready in minutes, and I feel better about what I'm serving my kids.

We took the four most common "boxed foods" found in homes with kids, and decided to share Aida's recipes with you to begin the un-processing process.

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Photo credit: Lisel Ashlock, Creative Director for Moomah the Magazine

The chicken tenders and fish sticks take less than ten minutes to prepare, package and throw in the freezer. What's better is that they also only take ten minutes to cook when you need them. Aida has even provided the ingredients for some low fat sauces, in case you really want to step it up and get fancy!

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Photo credit: Lisel Ashlock, Creative Director for Moomah the Magazine

The macaroni and cheese is so simple and so unbelievably delicious that you will never turn back to boxed pasta again. Best thing about it? You will totally fool your kids into eating vegetables in this dish -- they will not have a clue that the orange they see is not just delicious cheese, but is infused with butternut squash.

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Photo credit: Lisel Ashlock, Creative Director for Moomah the Magazine

Finally, it's dessert time and your kids (and you!) are going to go crazy for the yummy yogurt popsicles.

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Photo credit: Lisel Ashlock, Creative Director for Moomah the Magazine

Good news is that all of these recipes are GLUTEN-FREE... not that your kids will ever know it!

Get Spring Cleaning now with all of these delicious recipes now at Moomah the Magazine.