This is a guest post written by Elizabeth Davenport, MPH, RDN, LD.
March is Frozen Food Month AND National Nutrition Month. So, it’s a fitting time for a Registered Dietitian to write a guest post about frozen foods! Often frozen foods get a bad rap. Many of the nutrition messages we see these days are either inaccurate or fear based. They leave us feeling like we’re not doing enough and not feeding ourselves and our families in the best way possible.
Nutrition is not black and white and there are many ways to eat and feed our families well. I use frozen foods on a regular basis in my own cooking. It’s absolutely OK, and beneficial, to use frozen foods and other convenience foods when feeding your family. Actually, there are quite a few benefits to incorporating frozen foods into your meal and snack line up.
One of the benefits of using frozen fruits and vegetables is that they’re typically picked at peak ripeness and processed (frozen) right there on the farm where they’re grown. Fresh fruits and vegetables have to be picked a little earlier for shipping and begin to slowly lose nutrients. This is a natural process and doesn’t mean that fresh isn’t a good option. However, freezing fresh fruits and veggies essentially locks in the nutrients by stopping the oxidation.
Many frozen foods, especially fruits and vegetables, have only one ingredient, the produce itself.
There are also brands like Mom Made Foods that have products with impressively short lists of ingredients. This is the ingredient list for Mom Made Foods Turkey Meatball Bites!
And look at this impressive list for their Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs!
Convenient and Affordable
Frozen foods offer a great deal of convenience. I keep a variety of frozen foods on hand to put together “go-to” meals. We’re all so pressed for time it seems. It’s nice to know you have meals in your freezer that you can truly cook in 20 minutes or less. Making a dinner out of frozen foods is a nice alternative to cooking from scratch or eating out.
And of course, with frozen produce, you don’t need to worry about using it right away and you can get out of season produce. It’s helpful to be able to pull out just the amount you need and leave the rest in the freezer to cook another time, especially when children are young and eating smaller portions.
Frozen fruits and veggies are also a big time saver because they’re already washed, peeled, and cut. Prepared foods can also be a big time saver. Rather than making meatballs, you can buy them frozen and made with similar ingredients. And frozen foods are often more affordable than fresh and certainly more affordable than take-out.
I use frozen foods in many different ways throughout my week. Here are some of my family favorites:
Frozen fruits are great in smoothies (here’s recipe for an easy fruit and yogurt smoothie) and in items like muffins, quick breads and baked oatmeal.
Frozen vegetables: I keep spinach stocked for spinach lasagna, spinach quesadillas and spinach enchiladas. I also keep frozen peas and green beans to use as a veggie side on busy nights or to use in weeknight fried rice or soups like this one.
Other frozen foods that are prepared foods are beneficial to keep on hand for easy meals and snacks. You’ll always find frozen meatballs in my freezer. Spaghetti and Meatballs is a favorite “go-to” meal that both of us at Sunny Side Up Nutrition have on our regular meal lists. I keep a few boxes of Mom Made Meatballs in the freezer to make spaghetti and meatballs when I need an easy dinner. And my family loves Mom Made Meatballs in meatball subs!
Mom Made Foods has some quick, healthy recipes on their blog like this one for Meatball and Orzo Soup.
Items like frozen waffles are great for a meal or snack along with some fruit and a glass of milk. Some of my family’s other favorite frozen foods are frozen croissants, mini pizzas, hash browns, breakfast sausages, veggie spring rolls, sweet potato fries, chicken tenders, rice, dinner rolls and lasagna.
What are some of your favorite frozen foods to keep on hand?
Elizabeth Davenport, MPH, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian. She co-writes the blog Sunny Side Up Nutrition and she’s in private practice in Washington, DC at Pinney Davenport Nutrition. We believe food doesn’t have to be complicated and that feeding your family doesn’t have to leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Visit us at Sunny Side Up Nutrition for tips for raising intuitive eaters and feeding your family.