Are Frozen Foods Nutritious?

by Kari Hartel, RD, LD
Program Coordinator, Cooking Matters, Operation Food Search

March is Frozen Foods Month, which begs the question: Are frozen foods good for you? Frozen foods often get a bad rep for being nutrient-poor, calorie-dense foods, and while this can certainly be the case some of the time, there are plenty of healthy frozen foods available. The key is making the right selections. You can often find frozen foods that are not only friendly to your waistline, but friendly to your wallet as well.

Let’s take a look at some frozen foods that can help you eat stick to an affordable, well-balanced delicious diet.

Frozen vegetables – This form can help you reach your daily recommended servings of vegetables because they’re quick, easily-prepared and they offer a lot of variety because they’re available year-round. Frozen vegetables are loaded with beneficial nutrients because they are frozen soon after they are harvested and those vitamins are essentially locked in once the produce is frozen. Unlike fresh vegetables, they don’t experience nutrient loss that occurs days after they’re harvested. Choose plain frozen vegetables that don’t include any sauces, which adds unnecessary fat and sodium.

Frozen fruits – Stocking up on frozen fruits will allow you to prepare a plethora of delicious snacks. Frozen fruit is a naturally sweet smoothie staple, but think beyond the mighty smoothie. Toss some frozen fruit into your high-fiber, low-sugar breakfast cereal or oatmeal. Thaw some frozen fruit overnight and use it in a fruit and yogurt parfait in the morning. Combine frozen fruit (thawed) with fresh fruit to make a fun fruit salad.

Frozen fish – Fatty fish, such as salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring, lake trout and sardines are full of omega-3 fats, which have been proven to protect your cardiovascular system and improve brain functioning. Frozen fish is often much cheaper than fresh fish and it cooks up very quickly.

Frozen meat – Frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast and other lean meats are often much more affordable than their fresh counterparts. Opt for frozen meats that aren’t packaged in a sodium solution.

Of course, there are plenty of frozen foods that are high in fat, sodium and sugar. Try to avoid frozen snacks foods, frozen pizzas, and frozen heat-and-serve meals (commonly known as “TV dinners”).

The Associate Board of Operation Food Search and St. Louis Magazine are hosting a young friends mixer, Soup, Stews and Casseroles for the Hungry Soul, featuring comfort food tastings by chefs featured in St. Louis Chefs’ Recipes-Volume II. The event takes place on Monday, March 10th from 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, 130 Edgar Road. Guests will also enjoy a 1970s record spin by Rob Levy, host of the KDHX Radio’s Juxtaposition, and live pancake art by Dr. Dan the Pancake Man, who has received national attention for the artistic pancakes he creates at the Courtesy Diner. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door and available at the Rep’s Box Office or at www.repstl.org/hungry_soul. Proceeds benefit Operation Food Search’s child-focused weekend feeding.

Stop by our booth at the Healthy Planet Expo, March 30 in Webster Groves!