46 foods you should buy frozen
Frozen foods are really underestimated – in fact, they are some of the healthiest foods at the market. You’ll learn 43 foods you should buy frozen.
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46 foods you should buy frozen
Frozen fruits and veggies are very underestimated. Foods to buy frozen? Fresh produce is better than frozen ones, no? Not always the case.
It’s high time to favor some frozen products. I’ll give you the reasons and the list of foods you should buy frozen.
Benefits of frozen fruits and vegetables
Surprisingly, there are many reasons why you should know the foods to buy frozen instead of fresh ones.
- CONVENIENCE: Frozen fruits and veggies are washed, pre-cut, pre-cooked, and convenient: you can cut the prep time significantly.
- MORE NUTRIENTS: Frozen one are often more nutritious than fresh because they’re picked at their peak ripeness and nutrient levels and some fresh produce actually gain nutrients more by freezing. Frozen produce tends to lose nutrients more slowly than fresh produce.
- ALL YEAR LONG AVAILABILITY: If you can’t afford fresh or live in an area where you have limited access to produce, frozen is a viable alternative.
- LESS SPOILAGE: Frozen fruits and vegetables last longer and you can eat it whenever you want – it doesn’t matter if it’s in season or not.
- CHEAP: Some fruits like berries are actually cheaper frozen. For the best nutritional value, choose frozen vegetables without sauce or added salt, or fruit without added sugar.
- ADDITIVE FREE: Freezing preserves food, so unwanted additives are needed: “naked” produce (e.g. no added salt or sugar) is normal. However, always check the ingredients.
I love fresh whole foods, but now you see many benefits of frozen foods over fresh ones for certain items. The whole point is for you to get to know how you could utilize frozen foods so that you can get the most out of them.
Let’s go to the list of foods to buy frozen!
23 vegetables to buy frozen
Artichoke hearts are a delicacy with wide varieties of usage, both raw and cooked – in salad, dip, pizza, pasta etc. Hacking away at those leaves just to get very limited yield of edible heart isn’t worth your time. While the marinated ones in jars can be slimy and bland, frozen hearts retain the texture and flavor and require no work.
Fresh asparagus is great in summer. However, it could become very expensive for the rest of the year. Frozen one requires no trimming and ready to cook, which is something you could consider to buy frozen.
Frozen sliced bell peppers will retain more vitamin C and antioxidants than chopped fresh bell peppers will. Once chopped, Vitamin C is oxidized, so if it is frozen right away, the nutrient is preserved. They also tend to be a cheaper compared to buying fresh peppers.
Broccoli is available all year round but unless it’s locally grown, it could lose some nutrients. In fact, frozen broccoli loses less ascorbic acid (10%) for a year than fresh one that has been stored at room temperature for a week (56%). When it’s frozen, it maintains color, texture, vitamins, antioxidants, and glucosinolates (compounds that might help lower the risk of cancer).
You can usually find frozen ones a lot cheaper than fresh ones without losing nutrients and it’s convenient to have blanched, ready to eat, fresh-frozen broccoli florets. The only time I say to definitely get fresh is when you want to grill it.
You see brussels sprouts year-round, but they’re not the best in the summer. Frozen ones are very consistent and inexpensive as well.
The biggest issue with fresh butternut squash is that it requires lots of works: It’s hard to slice, its seeds need to be taken out, peeling, and cutting.
Pre-cut frozen one is just so only convenient, but also good for heart disease, breast cancer and age-related macular degeneration. It contains 10 % of RDI of vitamin C, 5 % of iron, and 9 % of protein.
Cabbage provides lots of fibers with low calories, vitamins C and K, plus vital minerals. Cabbage is another kind of produce that seems to gain phenolic compounds after freezing. In fact, researchers observed a 26% increase in cabbage’s phenolic compounds.
Though you can get fresh carrots year-round, frozen carrots can actually be more nutritious than fresh carrots. Carrots gained higher beta-carotene and antioxidants after being frozen. And they are often cheaper than fresh carrots.
You can make cauliflower rice (riced cauliflower) at home from fresh cauliflower with a box grater or food processor. However, the frozen one requires no work, taste the same and tends to be smaller, which cooks quicker.
Corn has a short growing season and can be expensive. So we see either canned or frozen options. Canned one is often loaded with salt-infused water, so it’s good to opt for frozen. Frozen corns are available all year long. Frozen corn contains more calcium than fresh ones.
Edamame offers high in protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals: 1 cup boasts 6 g of fiber, 10 g of protein, and 19 % RDI of vitamin C, 14 % RDI of iron and 7 % RDI of calcium.
You don’t see them fresh much, but you see them in the freezer section all year long. It’s inexpensive and convenient, most of the edamame sold in the U.S. come frozen and out of their pods.
Vegetables that consists of the furled heads of young ferns sees significant gains in alpha-carotene after being frozen for 10 months. The ostrich fern is the species that are most widely harvested as fiddleheads in Canada and the U.S. They can be harvested only for 2 weeks in the spring before they unfurl, which makes them a great choice to get them frozen instead of fresh. Properly frozen, they’ll keep for up to a year.
Surprisingly, frozen green beans retain nutrients better than fresh ones: more ascorbic acid and carotene. Also frozen green beans retain around 90 % of B vitamins (especially good source for B2) and vitamin K (for blood clotting).
Jalapeno peppers are another vegetable that sees gains in beta-carotene after being frozen. You typically don’t need a lot of jalapeños, so keeping some in the freezer is convenient.
Fresh kale can be very tough and bulky. While you eat it raw, and might not even try cooking or massaging. You can use frozen kale in the same way as frozen spinach and add to a variety of dishes.
It take forever to peel, so frozen one is convenient. These sweet little onions add flavor and texture in various dishes.
Fresh peas can get costly with a very short season and time consuming to prepare. Frozen peas are usually picked, prepared, and packaged when it’s at its nutritious peak.
They are also inexpensive and convenient with more nutrients than fresh ones. While fresh ones start to lose vitamins and minerals within hours or days, frozen ones for a year lose just 10% of their ascorbic acid.
Fresh spinach is best for salads, but for cooked dishes, the frozen one is better. The caveat is you should look for frozen leaf spinach, versus frozen chopped spinach.
- They are pre-washed, so no sand and dirt!
- Frozen spinach lose a lot less vitamin C and ascorbic acid than fresh ones and increase thiamin (vitamin B1. 25% more after 40 days) and beta-carotene.
- Fresh spinach loses a significant amount of volume when it cooks down and some nutrients are lost due to leaching.
Frozen sweet potato retain higher levels of beta-carotene than fresh cooked sweet potatoes. They could be cheaper than fresh one as well.
White asparagus is sturdier than other varieties and more forgiving in terms of cooking time. In Germany, white asparagus is celebrated with festivals from April to June. Germans like it because it’s sweeter and more tender than the green variety.
White asparagus is like a green one without chlorophyll (the green in plants that helps generate oxygen in the photosynthesis process). White asparagus stalks are picked before they peek through the soil. They never get the sunlight. The green asparagus stalks are picked after they break through the soil and are exposed to the sun to develop chlorophyll, which is what makes them green.
Fiber is another nutrient that most of us don’t consume enough. But you can get it just as easily from frozen vegetables as from fresh ones. Frozen white asparagus (for 10 months) showed no significant changes in fiber content.
It provides protein, vitamin C and B6, fiber, magnesium, potassium, carotenoids: beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), lutein, zeaxanthin.
Vegetable mix (medley)
A mixed bag are not only convenient, but also ease on your wallet with nutrients.
Vegetable noodles (zoodles or vegetable spirals) are getting really popular lately. You can turn vegetables like zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash into thin, long curly noodles. You can make them yourself, with a spiralizer, but that involves trimming and peeling and slicing, and once they’re spiralized, the noodles tend to go bad quickly.
Frozen veggie noodles are ready to use, no waste (not worrying about going bad), lower in carbs than pasta. For salad, alternative noodle (gluten free with less calories and carbs) etc. you can use them a lot.
12 fruits to buy frozen
Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries are sweet summer treats.
- All year long available instead of summertime.
- Berries begin to lose their nutrients moments after being picked. Fresh berries are often imported from other countries and can quickly turn moldy even while at stores. Frozen berries lock in nutrients, much of their phenolic compounds.
- Eat them straight out of the freezer.
- Thaw before baking them into cobblers, pies, etc. Add an extra dash of starch or other thickeners to soak up the juices.
- They were picked at their best and flash-frozen, so they are sweet, not tart.
Frozen bing cherries are high in antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients with fractional costs compared to fresh ones. You can use them in desserts, smoothies, or oatmeal, and homemade jam.
Specialty Exotic Fruits
Nowadays, you can find various kinds of exotic fruits at stores – even at the frozen section. Thanks to the popularity of acai bowls and pitaya bowls, you can get those even at the regular super markets. However, you can find those exotic fruits easier at international markets like Asian ones.
Açaí berries can’t be imported fresh into the U.S. However, they are available in other forms like frozen purée, which retains antioxidants and other nutritional qualities for as long as five years from the time it’s made.
- It’s naturally fat-free, rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, iron, and fiber.
- It may help lower your blood sugar.
- It encourages the growth of the probiotics lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. In your gut, these and other helpful bacteria can kill disease-causing viruses and bacteria. They also help digest food.
Picking a mango can be tricky – mangoes tend to be overripe or under-ripe at stores. And peeling and slicing could be a hassle. Frozen mango solves all the problems. Ripen, peeled, sliced/cut, and ready to eat. Not just for smoothies, but also a great healthy snack.
Even when fresh papaya is hard to get, you can find frozen papaya always at stores. Papaya provides fiber, vitamin C, and beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A).
Peach is another fruit that gains benefits by freezing. Frozen peaches don’t lose phenolic compounds and increases in their concentrations significantly, 30% more. Choose frozen peaches with no-added sugar.
Pomegranate seeds (technically arils, or seed coatings) are full of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. It’s time-consuming to remove the seeds, though I find it fun. Frozen pomegranate seeds are available all year long, but fresh ones are only for a few months in winter.
Pre-Made Smoothie Packs
You pay a bit more, but they’re so convenient: already include several fruits, pre-washed, peelped, cut and ready to eat, and come in perfect portions.
4 animal proteins to buy frozen
Commercial fishing boats typically flash freeze their catch right on the boat at 40 degrees below zero. The temperature locks in the fish’s peak freshness. In a way, it’s fresher than fish that’s been merely cooled down with ice for a day or two.
It also helps kill parasites and other pathogens, which wild-caught salmon (the best kind) is particularly susceptible to. Oily and firm-fleshed, salmon stands up very well to freezing. In blind tests, people often prefer frozen seafood to fresh catches, which may be previously frozen as well.
While the tentacles can be found fresh at fish markets, they lose nothing from being frozen. In fact, the freezing process actually helps tenderize them.
Ground beef turns brown in the fridge in just a few days. It’s safe to eat but doesn’t look good. Ground beef spoils sooner than whole cuts of beef because more of its surface is exposed to oxygen. Also, any bacteria on the meat gets mixed in and start to multiply.
Buy frozen ground beef or wrap it tightly and freeze it yourself. It should stay safe for a year or longer (But for best flavor, eat it within 3 or 4 months).
Chicken and poultry
Many of you eat chickens on daily basis – unlike me (I rarely eat chicken). But you go shopping for groceries only every couple of weeks. Then buy it frozen or buy bulk and make it frozen. It keeps safely for months instead of mere days. And a whole chicken or turkey should keep safely for up to a year. Just transfer what you need to the fridge the night before to thaw (it takes time to thaw – especially a whole chicken).
5 legumes to buy frozen
Most people don’t buy fresh legumes. But you should buy these as frozen instead of dried or canned:
- Kidney beans
- Garden peas
- Lima beans
Frozen legumes contained significantly higher levels of thiamin than their canned ones.
Other items to buy frozen
It can start to get stale after a couple of days and eventually turn moldy. Now you can see varieties in frozen-bread shelves. Or you can freeze your own bread, even whole loaves. Wrap them airtight and pop them in the toaster or the oven without thawing.
Gluten-free bread (including buns and bagels) generally has fewer preservatives than the regular variety, so it has a shorter shelf-life when fresh. Make them freeze!
Frozen cooked rice
Some say don’t freeze cooked rice, but why not? Rice is my main carb, and I cook tons at a time, wrap individual servings, and freeze them. When I want rice, microwave it and ready to eat. So convenient!
Freezing doesn’t improve the flavor or texture, but when properly done it can preserve most of the quality of the fresh product.
The storage times are approximately 8-12 months for some food products assuming the food has been prepared and packaged correctly and stored in the freezer at or below 0°F.
For best quality, use 8 months. After these times, the food should still be safe, just lower in quality.
- Look at the bag and feel the contents. Frozen fruits and veggies should be solid and hard, not soft, mushy or wet, sweating, or thawing. You should be able to feel individually frozen pieces of fruit or vegetable, not a solid block, which indicates the contents thawed and were re-frozen. Staining or ice crystals on the package is another indication of thawing and refreezing.
- Keep your freezer door shut. Every time you open your freezer, you are thawing produce as it is exposed to room temperature air. This can result in a loss of healthy phytoactive compounds.
- Store fruits and veggies in the back of the freezer, so they don’t get partially thawed when you do open the door. Save the front for the ice cubes.
- Don’t overheat frozen produce. Defrosting fruit on the countertop or in the microwave for a minimal amount of time is the best way to retain the phytoactive compounds in the fruit. Lightly steaming or microwaving is the best way to preserve nutrients in vegetables.
- Squeeze a lemon over frozen veggies after heating them. The vitamin C in lemon juice can help replenish any lost vitamin C during blanching. It will also make veggies brighter and fresher tasting, Lester explained.
Conclusion: Now that you know you can utilize frozen vegetables and fruits like fresh ones. Take advantage of it and include them in your diet for your healthy eating lifestyle!
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