Follow these six simple steps for healthy meal-prep perfection. Warning: the hardest step is opening the oven door.

By Betty Gold
Updated: April 26, 2019
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Little known fact: frozen vegetables are just as healthy than their freshly-picked counterparts. In fact, they’re sometimes healthier. According to a University of Georgia study, fruits and veggies (including broccoli, blueberries, corn, cauliflower, beans, peas, spinach, and strawberries) that are perfectly fresh, have been in the fridge for five days, and those that were fully frozen for two years are nutritionally equal. In the case of green peas and beans, the frozen versions were actually found to contain higher levels of nutrients. It makes sense, because frozen veggies are picked at peak-ripeness—when their nutritional value and flavors are best-expressed—and chilled immediately thereafter.  

We try to reach for fresh fruits and veggies whenever possible. But when it comes to convenience and affordability, there’s no denying that freezer aisle offerings can’t be beat. If you've ever wondered if you can save even more time by popping them in the oven as-is, we have good news. To make sure you aren’t compromising on crispness or flavor when roasting, though, follow these easy guidelines for making the best-ever roasted veggies straight from the bag. (Even Ina Garten’s on board!)

Dial up the heat

Crank your oven up to 450°F to preheat. Roasting vegetables in a super hot oven will help them get deliciously caramelized. As with any frozen food, veggies are prone to releasing condensation as they thaw—baking them in a sizzling oven helps evaporate any remaining water rapidly so they won’t start to steam in their own moisture (a mushy disaster).

Completely coat your vegetables with oil

When prepping your frozen veggies, make sure that each piece is fully covered in a thin layer of oil, like EVOO or coconut oil. The fat will help your cauliflower or corn crisp up evenly on the outside while keeping their interior tender.

Preheat your baking sheet with oil, too

We already know that preheating your pan is a genius hack for saving time when roasting. But did you know that it’s also a great way to boost browning and tenderize your veggies? Before transferring ingredients to the baking sheet, add a drizzle of olive oil to the bottom of the pan and place it in the oven empty as it preheats. By the time the oven’s up to temp, you’ll have a nice hot pan that’s ready to roast. This way, the second your frozen broccoli or beans hit the metal surface, they’ll defrost rapidly. Same reasoning why we roast in at a high temperature: it helps avoid the soggy texture that frozen vegetables acquire if they start to steam.

Size matters

Rather than adding frozen sweet potatoes, spinach, and string beans all to the sheet tray at once, just roast veggies that are similar in size and texture together (like broccoli and cauliflower florets). This way, everything will cook in the same amount of time and you won’t be left struggling to get the near-burnt spinach off the pan before the potatoes have even started to soften.

RELATEDThe 9 Commandments for Cooking Perfectly Crispy Oven-Roasted Potatoes

Don’t forget to season

Salt and pepper are absolutely necessary, but feel free to add other fresh or dried herbs and spices to your mélange: rosemary, cumin, paprika, parsley, garlic… all fair game. 

Give them a toss

Halfway through baking, pull out the sheet tray and give your vegetables a gentle toss to redistribute them over the pan’s surface. This promotes even cooking and crisping.

Once they’re finished, you can stir your roasted veggies into pasta, serve alongside salmon, or toss them in storage containers meal-prep style to eat in lunches and dinners all week. 

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