23 RD-Approved Tips to Help You Buy the Best Frozen Vegetables, Meals, and More
There's no doubt that frozen foods make getting a dinner with multiple sides on the table much easier, and take the hassle out of your morning smoothie prep, but just because these items are convenient, it doesn't mean they're automatically good for you. In fact, we talked to several registered dietitians about what to look for when purchasing items from the freezer section, and the consensus was simple—not all frozen foods are created equal.
Whether you are wandering the frozen aisle for fruits, vegetables, or a microwaveable entrée you can make in minutes after a long day at work, there are certain things you should always keep an eye out for, both in terms of what to avoid, as well as what's good for you. "Frozen food gets a bad reputation, but frozen produce can actually be a healthy staple to add to your grocery list! Not only are frozen fruits and vegetables more convenient and longer lasting than their fresh alternatives, they're frozen at peak ripeness, so they taste amazing and have excellent nutritional value," says Allison Gross, RDN, founder of 4Q Method. "However, it's important to read the ingredient list to make sure that there are no additional ingredients such as oil, salt, sugar, or additives."
Still, the convenience of frozen foods can't be denied. "Frozen foods can be incorporated into any diet, and benefit so many individuals in terms of cost-savings, availability, and increasing nutrient intake," says Alyssa Burnison, MS, RD, LN, of Profile. "They provide a convenient way to incorporate foods from every food group into our diet, and allow us to save time without the extra clean up."
How to Shop for Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
When it comes to shopping for frozen produce—think broccoli florets, string beans, raspberries and the like—simplicity is key. Look for as few ingredients as possible, and be wary of products with added seasonings or sauces.
How to Shop for Frozen Entrées
Sometimes you just want a hassle-free frozen meal for lunch or dinner. When it comes to purchasing these easy entrées, look for a balanced meal with important nutrients, such as protein and fiber. Conversely, steer clear of meals that contain unhealthy fats.
How to Shop for Frozen Desserts
There's nothing wrong with having a little something sweet after a meal. When buying frozen desserts, look for options with minimal added sugar, and beware of harmful ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup. And just because something is dairy-free or non-dairy, doesn't mean it's healthier.