Shopping Healthy in the Frozen Section

This article was written by contributing writer Christina Kantzavelos and you can keep up with her here.

As someone who cooks most of their meals at home, I depend on my freezer just as much as I do my fridge. And although I prefer to cook as often as possible with fresh ingredients, it is not always feasible. For example, when certain fruits and vegetables aren’t in season and items such as gluten-free bread, tortillas, seafood, and meats can go bad without being frozen. There are days I genuinely don’t have time to prepare an entire meal and when realities get in the way, I need a quick and healthy alternative. This is where frozen food comes to my rescue. Frozen food isn’t at the heart of my diet, however, it sure is helpful in my day-to-day life.

The assumptions or myths that frozen food is flavorless or not as nutritious are not rooted in fact. According to University of Georgia’s Ronald Peg, PhD, when it comes to maintaining the nutritional value of a fresh food item, “freezing in essence is nature’s pause button… It maintains freshness, slows down enzymatic reactions, increases the time it takes anything to degrade.” While with fresh food, “a living material—it respires, there’s oxidation and enzymes operating. It degrades over time and loses nutrients. That’s normal and to be expected.” What does that mean? Fresh food is always the go-to but when necessary, freezing your food preserves the flavor as well as the nutritional value.

As an added benefit, frozen food is also sustainable since it lessens the amount of spoiled food that gets thrown away. Your food can stay fresh longer, sometimes indefinitely, depending on the item. So how did frozen food get such a bad rap? It comes down to ingredients. What often makes frozen food unhealthy are the added sauces, preservatives, natural flavors and seasonings. Make sure to read the ingredients list of any packaged food, especially frozen food, before purchasing the item. I personally always have frozen fruits and vegetables in my freezer, as well as meats, seafood, breads, and a few packaged items, like Feel Good Food’s Potstickers. Some of my favorite snacks and meals made from frozen food are smoothies, stir-fry, vegetable soup and seafood skillets.

Next time you’re avoiding the middle aisles at the grocery store, take a moment to chill…and reconsider the frozen section.

Bon Appetit, y Buen Camino!

Christina P. Kantzavelos