10 foods to always buy frozen
The frozen food aisle might not be the first place to look for healthy food. And it is true that some freezers are filled with sugary desserts and ready-made meals that are high in fat. But this is also the aisle where you can find some of the healthiest bargains in the supermarket.
“Frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious, if not more nutritious, than fresh fruits and vegetables,” says Mascha Davis, R.D.N., registered dietitian in Los Angeles.
Freezing can preserve vitamins and minerals. These may not always last in fresh foods.1 Plus, frozen foods may be less expensive, says Davis. They also can be stored for longer than fresh foods, she adds.
Not all frozen foods are created equal though. Here are the items that pack the most nutritional value and may save you more money than buying fresh.
Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are filled with antioxidants. Those are natural substances that can help lower the risk of serious diseases.2 They’re also packed with vitamin C and fiber.3
Fresh berries are cheapest when they’re in season. Out of season, they may cost more. If you want the health benefits of berries in winter, frozen is a good option, notes Haley Bishoff, R.D.N., owner of Rutsu Nutrition in Las Vegas.
Dark leafy greens like spinach are rich in iron, calcium and vitamins A and K, says Bishoff. They’re at their best when they’re just picked. But most greens travel a long way to get to the store. Then they sit around until you buy them. So, they might not be as nutritious by the time you eat them, says Bishoff.
When they are frozen, nutrients are locked into the vegetable. Plus, it’s easy to use frozen spinach in soups, stews and casseroles.
What is most important, though, is to eat vegetables, says Bishoff. The health benefits are the same from frozen or fresh.
3. Lean meat
Meat is a great source of protein. And you need lots of protein to keep your cells working properly4 Buying frozen meat can help save you money, says Jandra Mueller, D.P.T., M.S., a physical therapist and nutrition expert in San Diego.
Why? Because frozen meat lasts for months instead of days. So, it’s less likely to go bad before you can cook it, she says. To add to the savings, buy when the leanest cuts go on sale.
4. Fish and seafood
Seafood is another great source of lean protein. Plus it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids. Those are healthy fats that help keep your brain sharp – and are good for your heart too. Sometimes fresh fish isn’t always in season or high quality. Frozen fish can be a good alternative.
Frozen peas can be enjoyed year-round, unlike fresh peas. They’re also packed with disease-fighting antioxidants and are a good source of potassium. Among other benefits, potassium is good for helping to keep your blood pressure in check.5
6. Butternut squash
Picking up frozen squash can save you the trouble of peeling, seeding and slicing it. And you’ll get the same health benefits.
This orange-yellow squash is high in vitamin E, which may help lower your risk of cancer and heart disease.6 It also has vitamin B-6, which helps fight infections.7
Biting into a fresh juicy peach may be one of the joys of summer. But too often the supermarket only has unripe or mushy peaches.
Since peaches are frozen when they’re at their ripest, you’ll get all the flavor and nutrition, says Bishoff. Among other things, peaches are a good source of vitamin C, folate and even iron.8
You can enjoy summer-sweet frozen corn all year round. Corn is considered a whole grain, which means it’s rich in fiber. 9 And like all whole grains, eating it can help lower your cholesterol and protect you from heart disease and diabetes.9 So, toss those kernels into salads, stews and soups to increase your fiber intake.
9. Green beans
As with many other vegetables, frozen green beans may be more nutritious than the fresh beans you keep for days in the fridge. Since they’re a good source of vitamins, including vitamin K, you don’t want to miss out on their benefits. Vitamin K makes the proteins needed to help build bone.10
Most people don’t get enough calcium or iron, says Davis. Broccoli is rich in both. Plus, it has a lot of fiber. Frozen broccoli is usually less expensive than fresh. And it’s already washed, peeled and chopped, making it easier to use in salads, sides and alongside dips for snacks.
In addition to the nutrition benefits, using frozen foods helps cut down on food waste. That makes them good for the planet as well as for you. With a freezer stocked with healthy foods, a quick, nutritious meal is just a few minutes away.