I used to turn my nose up at frozen veggies and fruits. I just assumed they were not as good as the fresh items when it came to taste and nutritional value. But I was wrong, as I have been about much of what I thought I knew about food. In fact, when stored properly, frozen fruits and veggies are delicious, good for you and can save you time and money.
You can either grab a bag of fruit or veggies from the freezer section of the grocery store or buy the food fresh and freeze it yourself. I do both. When you buy frozen, you save money instantly because those items are cheaper than their fresh counterparts. Frozen fruits and veggies are usually frozen right after they are picked and that preserves most of the nutrients. Also, there is less waste because the foods will not go bad as quickly because they are frozen.
The Bad Part
Not all food freezes equally. Some textures change so much when frozen that personally it loses its versatility in my kitchen. Like a tomato. The texture after freezing is not something I want for a salad. But that same tomato would work perfectly in pasta sauce, soup or stew. Cucumbers have a similar story. I love them fresh, but once they are frozen they are dead to me. I won’t use them for anything.
Because of this many foods are not commercially frozen. Also, some frozen foods add preservatives so they will last longer. Be sure to read labels. And remember that frozen foods do have a shelf life. Most fruits and veggies last about 8-12 months, except citrus which is only good for about 3 months.
You can just freeze it yourself, especially if you feel something is about to go bad. I often do this with spinach and berries. I use plastic freezer bags and try to reuse them as much as possible. But I am on the hunt for a more eco-friendly method. Also, experts advise that veggies be blanched or cooked before they are frozen to keep them from becoming mushy and to stop the enzymes from causing discoloration. Onions and peppers can be frozen without blanching.
I mostly use frozen fruits and veggies for smoothies in the morning. I just grab a bag of what I want from the freezer and add it to the blender. It can cut down on the amount of ice I add (because I like my smoothies cold) and it minimizes my prep time, because I don’t have to chop or pull stems from items… I just throw them in. I typically keep spinach, kale, pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, avocado and blackberries in the freezer on standby for my smoothies. I also will add certain fruit to my oatmeal as it is cooking. For me this works with blueberries or chopped apples.
Lunch or Dinner
For lunch or dinner, frozen veggies can be a time saver. As I mentioned earlier, frozen tomatoes can easily go in sauce, soups or stews (I prefer tomatoes to be cooked before frozen). Salad and kale can be used for the same. Frozen peas, corn, carrots, broccoli and other veggies can be used for a quick stir fry.
So the next time you are in the grocery store, be sure to stop by the frozen foods aisle for a healthy and delicious way to save time in the kitchen.