By Registered Dietitian, Chelsea Rice, RDN, LDN
In the fast-paced world we live in, finding the time to cook gourmet meals can often be a big challenge. So let’s bring frozen food into the mix to help save the day! Frozen foods have come a long way over the years. They used to be associated with convenience, but now they have evolved to also focus on quality and nutritional value. If you are a busy foodie, frozen food can be a lifesaver. In this post we'll explore some essential frozen food items that every food enthusiast should keep on hand at all times. Keep reading to learn more!
1. Frozen Vegetables
Frozen vegetables should be your number one frozen food product that you keep on hand because they offer the perfect balance between convenience and nutrition. One of the best parts about frozen vegetables is that they are typically harvested at their peak of ripeness, which means they retain a large portion of their micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). On top of that, frozen vegetables are already washed and prepared, so they will save you all of that prep time and work! In previous years, you might have thought the only frozen vegetables available were your classic veggies such as carrots, peas, corn, etc. But these days, the frozen vegetable section has endless options! When walking down the frozen vegetable aisle, you’ll see everything from the classics, to asparagus spears, zucchini noodles, and roasted Brussels sprouts- just to name a few. You can microwave, sauté, boil, roast, or even air-fry frozen vegetables. Just look on the back of the package for cooking instructions and tips.
2. Frozen Fruits
Frozen fruits are a fantastic addition to your freezer and are perfect for adding to your smoothie, topping your morning yogurt, stirring into oatmeal, or crafting into a delectable dessert. A lot of fruit is not commonly found year round, or if they are found the quality isn’t always great throughout the year. Similar to frozen vegetables, frozen fruits are also harvested at their peak of ripeness, so they retain a large portion of their vitamins and minerals. Berries, mangos, cherries, and tropical fruits are just a few examples of the endless list of frozen fruits you might find in your local grocery store.
3. Frozen Seafood, Meat, and Poultry
If you’re a seafood, meat, and poultry lover, you will be happy to know that this frozen section has expanded tremendously over the past few years. Frozen proteins can bring restaurant-quality dishes to your home in a matter of minutes. A lot of them are also individually packaged, making it perfect for any size of family and will help you reduce waste. Our favorites? Frozen shrimp, salmon, cod, and chicken breast. Chelsea recommends sautéing the shrimp for a quick and easy dinner. While she prefers to bake or air fry the salmon, cod, and chicken breast. Pair them with a frozen vegetable and easy starch (like frozen brown rice) to make a super simple and fast meal! You can also freeze your own seafood, meat, and poultry. The most important thing is to avoid exposing your frozen food to outside air. You can do this by either vacuum sealing it, or double wrapping with freezer paper, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or airtight bags.
4. Frozen Herbs
Herbs are essential for adding taste and complexity to your meals, but they are often skipped because of how much of a hassle they are to keep fresh. Enter frozen herbs, which are also harvested at their peak, preserving their flavors, aromas, and nutrients. You can now find frozen herbs such as basil, cilantro, and parsley in the frozen food aisle, or you can freeze your own fresh herbs. Using frozen herbs in your dishes allows you to add a simple fresh touch, no matter the season.
5. Frozen Soup
There is nothing like a hot bowl of soup to warm your soul on a chilly fall or winter night. A lot of soup recipes make large amounts, so try freezing a couple of servings to keep on hand for a future lunch or dinner. You can also purchase frozen soups, but be mindful of the amount of sodium in pre-packaged frozen soups. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day, so keep an eye on that food label for pre-made soups you are purchasing.
Frozen food has evolved through the years to meet the needs of busy foodies who crave convenience and quality, without lacking nutritional value. With a well-stocked freezer, you can create gourmet meals and satisfying snacks within minutes! Whether you're wanting to explore new flavors or stick with your favorite comforting classics, the frozen food aisle has you covered! So embrace the convenience without compromising on taste and make your busy life a little easier with these essential frozen foods.