I am a huge fan of frozen food. I don’t mean prepared, microwavable food, but fruits, vegetables, and other healthy ingredients for your own creation. Why is frozen food good for you?
First, frozen produce is frozen soon after it is picked, so it may retain more vitamins than “fresh” foods which come from a distance. This research study found that fresh and frozen foods are about the same in nutrition, however, beta-carotene may be a little lower in frozen foods.
Healthy Frozen Foods to Buy
Super fresh local food is not as available year-round as I would like in my area. Unless I pick it myself from a local farm or successful backyard experiment, the nutrients will be higher in frozen food than fresh food from the supermarket.
These may have been sitting in the store and/ or in transit for weeks from California, Mexico, or further away. I find frozen food very convenient for a busy lifestyle: between work and cooking for my family, it is hard to get to the store during the week. You can also stock up when you find sales.
- Berries: great to top waffles, pancakes, or to add to hot cereal, smoothies or muffins.
- Stir fry vegetable mix: includes broccoli, mushrooms, red peppers, water chestnuts, carrots, and baby ears of corn. This can make dinner sooo easy. We buy a brand without sauce to avoid unwanted sodium, sugar, and oil. I used it in this recipe for Thai Peanut Tempeh with Rice.
- Corn kernels: so easy and we all enjoy them.
- Whole wheat bread, pita bread, multigrain English muffins, and corn tortillas
- Veggie burgers and whole wheat buns
- Tomatoes, hot peppers, or zucchini from summer successful growing experiments or gifts from neighbors.
- Cooked beans or lentils. Toss into burritos, soup, pasta, and more!
- Leftovers! Chili, soup, bean burritos, etc. This is a great way to store extra food when you make a big batch, then have a variety for easy lunches in the future.
Check this chart for how long food lasts in the freezer.
How Frozen Food Can Help You Cook
I often hear people say it is too much trouble to cook. It takes too much time, groceries are expensive, and it is easier to just stop for fast food. I disagree. I think time spent cooking is time well spent for your physical and mental health. Keeping healthy foods in the freezer helps you put together dinner even after a hectic day.
Depending on the recipe, you may even be able to relax while food is cooking, like in a slow cooker, multi-cooker, oven, or rice cooker. Luanne Brown has some free simple cookbooks which are terrific if you are just learning how to cook. Thug Kitchen 101 also has a lot of cooking basics and interesting recipes.
Recipes That Freeze Well
Another great strategy with your freezer is to cook some extra portions of meals and freeze them for a later date. This is a big time saver because then you only have to chop, cook, and clean up once! Premade frozen meals are especially helpful for:
- Heating up a meal after a long work day/commute
- Expecting parents
- Family members who prefer different meals
- Sharing with elderly relatives
- Packing for lunch (check out these ideas)
Here are some recipes I suggest making ahead in bulk and freezing:
- Slow Cooker Vegan Chili
- Arroz Colorido (but not if you made it with tofu)
- One Pan Pasta with Chickpeas and Tomatoes
- Stuffed Peppers with Butternut Squash and Quinoa
Label your meals with the recipe name and date: I tend to use a post-it note and tape it down. Rotate them and use them within a few months for freshness. Check your freezer temperature too: it should be at 0 degrees F.
Which frozen foods do you like to keep on hand? Let me know in the comments!