You’ve probably heard the saying that fresh is best. But is that really true? What’s so bad about frozen food after all? In many cases frozen food can be just as healthy as fresh. Freezing food is simply a way of preserving it in order to prevent spoilage. How many times have you bought a pack of fresh berries only to see half of them go uneaten before they get moldy? Including frozen foods regularly in your meals is a great way to help prevent food waste and get healthy fruits and veggies into your diet. Not to mention that frozen food can be a great value and it is easy to prepare!
In some cases, frozen fruits and veggies may be even more nutritious than their fresh counterparts because they are allowed to vine-ripen and then immediately frozen. When fresh produce has to travel far to its destination it is often picked early, before it reaches its peak flavor and nutritional value.
Here are some tips to help you navigate the frozen food aisle.
- The fruit should be the only ingredient. Check the ingredient list to make sure there is no added sugar.
- Frozen peaches, berries, and mangos are wonderful in smoothies on a hot summer day!
- Frozen berries taste delicious added to hot oatmeal.
- Frozen bananas dipped in chocolate can make for a great, semi-healthy treat.
- The vegetable should be the first ingredient. Look for little to no added salt.
- Added herbs and seasonings are okay, but steer clear of veggies that are covered in butter or white sauce.
- Frozen vegetables are great to add to stir fry dishes, whole wheat pasta, or cooked on their own with a little garlic and olive oil.
- Look for frozen meals that include some type of non-starchy vegetable and a protein.
- There are several healthier brands of frozen meals on the market which can be a good calorie controlled option for a quick lunch or dinner.
- Check the sodium content, especially if you have high blood pressure. Try to keep the sodium under 500 mg per meal.
- Avoid meals with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, food coloring, or long lists of preservatives. Stick to basic, simple ingredients.
When doing your grocery shopping be sure to buy a mix of fresh and frozen foods. Plan to have your fresh, more perishable items at the beginning of the week, and enjoy your frozen items at the end of the week. This will ensure you get all the nutrients you need with minimal wasted food and money.
Get started with these recipes using frozen foods:
Heather Mason is a Registered Dietitian who holds a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science. She has a passion for debunking nutrition myths and helping people discover delicious and healthy food. You can read more posts from her on her blog, Nutty Nutrition.