Frozen food sales are on the rise for the first time in years. While many of us have heard that “fresh is best” when it comes to fruits and veggies, buying frozen foods or freezing your own presents a unique set of benefits.
First, let’s clear one thing up: freezing has very little effect on the nutrients in food. Depending on what you freeze, some fruits and veggies could actually increase in vitamin E levels, while some may diminish in vitamin C a bit. Regardless, freezing will not change the amount of calories, sugar, carbs, fats, protein or fiber found in your produce. Basically, if it was healthy before you froze it, it should continue to be healthy for about a year in the freezer. Frozen pizzas and other processed foods, however, are just as unhealthy as their non-frozen counterparts.
Many frozen vegetables are actually even better than fresh produce, as they are sometimes frozen just hours after being harvested. “Fresh” items in the produce aisle, however, can experience vitamin loss after being stored for days or sometimes weeks.
Buying frozen food is also an effective way to cut down on household waste. The typical American household throws away $1500 in food every year, usually after it has expired. So, buying produce that won’t spoil in the fridge or sticking your leftovers in the freezer is a great way to cut down on that waste. For example, freezing chunks of fruit for smoothies ensures that it won’t go bad on the counter or in the fridge, and can even make a fun summertime snack.
Plus, frozen vegetable companies such as Green Giant are making it even easier to eat your veggies, even if you’re not a fan of salads. By presenting alternatives such as veggie rice, zucchini noodles and cauliflower “tots” (all the fun of tater tots, all the nutrition of a vegetable), Americans now have options other than bags of plain frozen vegetables to trick their brains (and their kids) into getting their daily dose. After all, 85% of Americans aren’t getting the fruits and veggies they need—though many would like to.
Frozen meals can also be a convenient option when our lives get busy and the cupboard gets bare. But buyer beware: look out for frozen meals with high levels of sugar or sodium, as many processed foods are. Stick with frozen fruits, vegetables and other staples to make sure you are getting the most out of your freezer, your dollar and your diet.