The crisper is a notorious produce graveyard haunted by good intentions. It always seems like such a good idea to load up on bushels of juicy peaches, bunches of kale, and herbs by the armfuls when you’re at the farmers market. It’s easy to forget that your healthy haul might spoil before you’ve had a chance to eat it. That’s why frozen vegetables are so great.
If you aren’t utilizing the frozen foods section at the grocery store, you’re definitely missing out on some savings. This week, Consumer Reports released a PSA to healthy shoppers, giving the intel on which foods it’s actually worth buying frozen rather than fresh.
Frozen fruits (with no added sugar) such as berries, bananas, and pineapple, cooked whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and beans, and frozen veggies all made the “better bought frozen” list. Fish is often better to buy frozen rather than fresh as its often frozen at peak freshness, ensuring all its nutrients are locked in until you’re ready to eat it.
Of course, your healthy frozen vegetables haul is just as likely to never get used if you don’t have a plan for how you want to use it. Here, registered dietitian Katie Goldberg, RDN, gives ideas for what to make with five different types of frozen veggies. Keep reading for her intel:
“Frozen spinach is the gem of the freezer section, it is so versatile and much cheaper than fresh,” Goldberg says. While fresh spinach leaves is an easy salad base, frozen spinach does take a bit more effort, but it can be added to virtually anything you’re already making using the stove.
“I add frozen spinach to almost every pasta dish I make,” Goldberg says. “Sometimes, I just simmer the sauce and spinach together to up the veggie content.” She also loves spinach and cheese omelets.
2. Chopped onions
Buying chopped onions frozen saves time and tears. “They’re a double-time saver because first, you’re not chopping the onions, and second, they’re already softened,” Goldberg says. She uses them in ground beef dishes, especially chili and tacos.
3. Stir-fry blend
Speaking of saving time, buying a pre-chopped frozen blend will save you tons of it. “I always have one or two stir-fry blends in my freezer,” Goldberg says. “Add a quick sauce, rice, and protein, and dinner is on the table.”
“I love pre-shelled edamame to add to a vegetarian stir-fry or a twist on rice and beans,” Goldberg says. It’s also an easy, healthy snack her toddler loves too. “Just 30 seconds in the microwave and it’s ready,” she says. Plant-based protein FTW!
5. Zucchini or sweet potato noodles
What a time to be alive: zucchini noodles and sweet potato noodles can be found in the frozen section in almost all grocery stores. “These can be a great low-carb meal starter, but I love them as a side dish,” Goldberg says, adding that it’s another frozen food win her toddler loves, too.
“You can top them with your favorite sauce, including marina, cheese, pesto, Thai peanut, or barbecue.” Having something versatile in the freezer that legit goes with everything is the ultimate lazy healthy girl hack.