Frozen Vegetables Can Be Your Mealtime’s Versatile VIP
One of the most underrated aisles in your local grocery store is the frozen vegetable section. Many people breeze by thinking these items have little flavor or aren’t as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. However, neither is true. Research shows us that the nutritional value of frozen vegetables is equal to that of fresh vegetables. It’s sometimes higher because items are frozen at peak ripeness. Also, many vegetables are already prepped. That saves time and energy in the kitchen, and you can cook them in only a few minutes. Further, frozen vegetables are very economical and often on sale. Plus, frozen produce won’t spoil, saving you money and limiting the amount of produce wasted. The versatility of frozen vegetables makes them a perfect freezer staple to have on hand for a quick and nutritious meal.
Many bags of frozen vegetables will say clearly on the front of their packaging that they are steamable. This is a perfectly healthy way to prepare frozen vegetables, but you can do so much more with them. One of the easiest ways to add more flavor to the vegetables is to roast or sauté them. And you don’t need to thaw them first. Using them frozen will actually help them maintain their structure and texture. With a little oil and some herbs or spices, you can really bring a bag of frozen vegetables to life.
The chopping and dicing has already been done with frozen vegetables, so add them to recipes you already make. They can add bulk, increase the number of servings, and stretch your food dollars. It’s also an easy way to increase the nutritional value of meals! Choose three to four of your favorites, and you can easily build an entire soup around frozen vegetables. The next time you make pasta, throw frozen spinach, or any other vegetables you may prefer, into the sauce. You can also mix frozen veggies into taco meat or casseroles and many other dishes.
There really is no wrong way to use a bag of frozen vegetables. For more versatility, look for options that are not seasoned or served in a sauce. Be creative with how you use them. The vegetable options continue to grow in the freezer aisle, so it might be the perfect time to try a vegetable you’ve never had before or aren’t sure how to prepare. The next time you’re in the grocery store, stop by the freezer aisle, and appreciate all the vegetables waiting to be picked.
Written by Heather Norman-Burgdolf, Extension Specialist for Food & Nutrition; and Emily DeWitt, Extension Associate for FCS Extension. Material referenced from Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics..