How to use frozen produce to make a dinner easy, tasty, and more nutritious
The frozen produce aisle has been a regular stop for our family for a few years now. It's mainly because as a family we need to stretch the food budget as much as possible. However with frozen veggies there are a few extra benefits on top of being easy on the budget.
First of all, frozen produce is a great way to add more nutrients and flavour to your dinner. You can't beat fresh veggies, but they can be really expensive, especially when they are out of season. Many frozen vegetables are also just as nutritious as fresh produce (some might argue they are more nutritious). That makes them a great (and cost effective) resource in the kitchen when you are looking to make healthier meals at home.
We might think back to the days when your mom might pull a bag of mixed veggies out of the freezer, steam them over some boiling water and drop a side of rubbery, tasteless veggies on your plate. We've all been there. But frozen veggies can be so much more than that. First off, there's more interesting ways to cook frozen veggies. A favourite of mine is frozen green beans sautéed in butter with almond slices as a side dish for supper.
Where frozen veggies can really help you out is as an ingredient in other meals. They are great additions in soups, stews, casseroles, stir-fries, and even pasta sauces. These are meals you can make in batches, portion out, and then RE-FREEZE to make no-prep meals for future you! You can also use frozen veggies to make veggie burgers, or mix them up with eggs—maybe an omelette?— for a healthy breakfast.
Guess what? This burger has cheap, nutritious frozen veggies in it!
Since the vegetables are flash-frozen the moment after picking, you don't have to worry about the freshness of frozen produce. All those awesome nutrients and natural flavours are retained for you. Nutrients like vitamins A & C that break down in heat or light exposure are saved in frozen vegetables. This means you can get more much-needed nutrients in your system from food and less from supplements.
Don't forget that frozen fruits are just as nutritious too! When buying frozen fruit at the grocery store make sure to choose those that have no sugar added instead of ones with sugary syrups. Substitute fresh berries with a bag of frozen blueberries for your morning yogurt or oatmeal without sacrificing flavour or dietary benefits.
Because we're talking about frozen products, you'll need to have a strategy for keeping things organized in your freezer.
Here are some tips:
- Right when you get the frozen goods from the store, open up the bag and make portions of vegetables that are suitable for your family size or your meal plan. Stick those portions in reusable bags or freezer safe containers. Ziploc bags work great because you can make thin bags that stack well and save space in your freezer.
- Label frozen vegetables with the date they were frozen. Even though frozen goods will last a long while, they don't last forever, and this helps you use the oldest food first.
- Add use-cases to your labels too! We all know it's difficult to think of a great supper in a pinch. When you see frozen corn with a quick meal idea, you've saved yourself some time in the idea department too!
Above all else remember to enjoy cooking—frozen produce can really help with that by taking the stress out of your meal plan.