Frozen food: nutritious and convenient

4 minReading time

When you’re shopping for food that will last a while, the first items that come to mind are probably canned. Meanwhile, frozen foods don’t get quite the same recognition, but in fact, they can last just as long, if not longer, than many of the canned or dried options out there (given you have a well-functioning freezer). Make sure to stop by the frozen section at your supermarket, and freeze whatever fresh foods you have at home already. Here you’ll find tips for buying healthy, freezable food so that there’s always something nutritious on hand – and as a bonus, learn how freezing can help minimize food waste.

Freezing food

Freezing is one of the most important methods of food preservation used today. The freezing process is used across every food group, for items like fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, and berries (1) (2). During freezing, the growth of bacteria, chemical reactions, and cellular metabolic reactions in food are all delayed (2)(3). Additionally, the texture, nutrition, and taste are better preserved than by any other method (2). 

Nutrition 

Did you know that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh ones? They’re often much cheaper, too. Fresh fruits and vegetables are typically picked before they’re ripe and then matured during transport and storage, whereas frozen vegetables are picked at peak ripeness – which is also when they are their most nutritious (2). The nutrients in frozen foods like fish, chicken, and other meats are nearly the same as fresh, with only a few small differences (3).  

As always, when you buy processed food, make sure to check the nutrition label and try to find items without any added sodium or sugar. 

Top frozen foods at the supermarket 

  • Vegetables: peas, broccoli, spinach, herbs, edamame, sweet corn, cauliflower
  • Fruit and berries: mango, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, bananas
  • Fish and other seafood: salmon, cod, trout, shrimp, scallops
  • Meat and poultry: chicken breast, turkey breast, lean beef, ground beef, ground pork

The frozen food possibilities

Frozen food can be a lifesaver when you can’t get to the supermarket (or just don’t feel up for it). Make an easy soup using frozen vegetables, vegetable stock, and some frozen herbs. Or, for another simple meal, cook frozen fish fillets and serve alongside pureed frozen peas and roasted broccoli. Frozen vegetables are also a fantastic addition to stews and salads, or just as a side for your favorite main dish. 

Frozen spinach is the perfect ingredient to boost your morning smoothie. Just add spinach, frozen mango, frozen banana, and any plant-based milk to a blender and mix. Top it all off with some frozen berries, or just eat as is. Frozen berries can also be used as a topping for your oatmeal, porridge, yogurt, or in a fruit salad. If you buy imported berries, heat them up first to make sure they’re free of potential viruses (4).  

Freezable ingredients 

There are tons of foods and meals that are perfect for freezing. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

  • When you cook, make extra portions of food and put them into containers to freeze. Pull these out on days when you don’t feel like cooking!
  • Bananas starting to go brown? Cut them into pieces and throw the whole bunch into the freezer! They’ll be perfect in your favorite smoothies, or just as a cold snack – add some peanut butter for a delicious combination. Apples and pears also freeze well – just cut them into pieces and store them in a bag in the freezer. They’ll lose their original texture during the freezing and thawing process, but they’re still great to add into a cake or fried up in some butter with cinnamon (which is a great topping for oatmeal)!
  • Put berries in the freezer if you don’t have time to eat them fresh, or if you just want to save them for another day. Simply rinse and add to bags or other containers in the freezer. They’ll taste better if they’re frozen at peak ripeness, so if you plan on freezing them, it’s better to do it sooner rather than later.
  • Have lots of milk, but not enough time to drink it before it goes bad? Don’t worry – add it to the freezer and you can keep it for a couple of months. Just defrost in the fridge a few hours before you need it.
  • Leftover bread? No worries, just slice it up and pop it into the freezer and you’ll have bread for weeks – perfect to toast!
  • Bought too much fresh broccoli, cauliflower, kale, or spinach? Boil these vegetables for a minute or two and then cool down quickly in ice water before storing in freezer bags. They’re perfect to heat up and serve with olive oil and spices – or why not make some tasty kale chips? 

References 

  1. Food and agricultural Oranizations of United Nations. Food Loss and waste in fish value chain. http://www.fao.org/flw-in-fish-value-chains/value-chain/processing-storage/freezing/en/
  2. Food and agricultural Oranizations of United Nations. Freezing of fruits and vegetables. 2005. http://www.fao.org/3/y5979e/y5979e03.htm#bm03.1 
  3. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/freezing-and-food-safety/CT_Index?
  4. Food Safety Authority Ireland. Berries – Advice to boil imported frozen berries. 2018. https://www.fsai.ie/faq/frozen_berries.html 

With Lifesum, tracking your healthy habits (and the not so healthy ones) becomes a breeze. We’ll help you pick the right food, and eat the right portion sizes, to reach your personal health goals.

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