6 Ways in which frozen food is actually good for you
Frozen food has gotten a bad rap over the years for being highly processed, less nutritious, and more expensive - other than the occasional frozen pizza, I can hardly remember the last time I sat down for a frozen meal. You may be surprised to learn, however, that this is far from the truth. Frozen food can be just as healthy, if not healthier, than their fresh counterparts and come at a fraction of the price.
With backing from several nutritionists, here's how frozen options can be the right choice for your health, budget, and lifestyle.
1. Frozen foods can be a healthy choice
According to Jenn LaVardera, MS, RD, there are plenty of healthy options in the frozen food section, but it may take some searching to find selections that have wholesome ingredient lists. LaVardera recommends avoiding options that have preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, and other ingredients you wouldn't find in your own kitchen.
"For frozen foods, the biggest concern can be sodium, so you want a product that's on the lower end of the choices available. Also, check things like trans and saturated fat and sugar (these should be low) and protein and fiber (these are good!)." A good rule of thumb, for example: make sure the frozen fruit or vegetables you're buying are listed as the only ingredient.
2. You can use both fresh and frozen food when cooking
Incorporating frozen and fresh foods to make a meal is another way to make frozen meals healthy, according to Coady. "Vegetables can be quickly added into pasta or rice to make a more flavorful meal. With the right seasoning, they can taste delicious without requiring a lot of time or effort," Coady said. The addition of frozen foods can complement your protein or grains, added LaVardera.
3. Frozen foods often have just as many nutrients as their fresh counterparts
According to Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, packaged frozen fruits and vegetables often have as much, if not more, nutrients than their fresh counterparts. "The reason is frozen vegetables go from the farm to getting clean, and are immediately flash frozen. As compared to their fresh counterparts that are sprayed with chemicals to be shelf stable over a longer period of time," according to Melissa Eboli, Nutritional Chef. Other frozen food, such as meats, don't have preservatives for the same reason.
4. If you’re running short on time, frozen foods may be your healthiest option
For the days when they're in a pinch, LaVardera tells her clients to keep wholesome frozen meals on hand. "A frozen quinoa and veggie entrée is a better choice than a bowl of cereal and will take just as much time to prepare when you come home late starving," LaVardera says. She recommends looking for products with whole grains and vegetables and if time permits, she likes to add a side salad.
5. Frozen meats and produce are often cheaper than their fresh equivalents
Fresh meat is often more expensive than buying it frozen. Frozen foods are a way to get the nutritional value of your favorite foods at a cheaper cost. Plus, frozen meat and vegetables typically taste just as good as their non-frozen counterparts, according to Eboli.
6. Frozen meals can teach you portion control
Knowing what equates to a single serving size is important for anyone trying to diet. Because frozen meals come in single serving sizes, they can teach someone looking to lose weight about portion control, Eboli says."If you are in the middle of a long-term plan which incorporates portion control into the mix, then eating a frozen meal as part of that plan could be beneficial," Backe adds.
If you're not keen on reading labels for optimal nutrition, frozen meals can end up doing more damage than good. High fats, calorie counts, and sodium content is crucial to pay attention to in conjunction with a cleaner, chemical-free ingredient list.
See, there's no need to be terrified. Start including a couple of these into your daily routine, keep up the good dieting and exercise and you could get to your goals even quicker.