I used to think frozen food was bad until I became a mother. It was for convenient reasons at first, until my sleepless (and always tired) mum brain went down a rabbit hole of research to find out that frozen food has been getting a bad rap all this time.
Myth: Lazy, unhealthy with no nutritional value
If you’re part of a substantial amount of ‘mum’ and ‘parent’ groups online like me, you’ll know how divided members are about preparing food for their family that is either frozen or fresh. I recall one parent shaming another for buying frozen food by saying there is no nutritional value in it.
Some parents jokingly admit they are ‘lazy’ and frozen food saves hours a week when it comes to meals.
Then there’s the reputation that frozen meals have for being unhealthy – like processed microwave meals that account for 70% of the sodium we consume and too much sodium can increase your blood pressure which increases your risk of heart disease.
But aside from some processed frozen meals found at the supermarket, there are many benefits to frozen food.
So for those of you who are on the fence on whether freezing food is a good or bad thing (and for those who are on #teamFresh who need some swaying or #teamFrozen who need validation), it’s time to ‘let it go’ with the negative myths about frozen food.
When Frozen Is Better Than Fresh
Fresh food is good and frozen food is just as, and sometimes even better – nutritionally AND price-wise.
Take for example packaged fruits and vegetables. According to Nutritional Chef Melissa Eboli, frozen vegetables go from the farm to getting clean and are immediately flash frozen. Their fresh counterparts however are often sprayed with chemicals to be “shelf stable” over a longer period.
Some studies also show when certain fruits or vegetables have been flash-frozen, nutrients are retained better and it stops the food from degrading.
Frozen meats go through the same process and their freshness stays intact without the need for food additives. And you know what else? Frozen food typically costs less than fresh food!
Do bear in mind to read the labels to make sure there isn’t any added sodium, fat or sugar. And keep it simple when buying meats by avoiding extra ingredients like sauces, breading etc…
When Fresh Meets Frozen
Still don’t trust frozen store-bought food? Prepare your meals with ‘fresh’ ingredients ahead of time and freeze for some delicious, nutritious home-cooked meals for the week. All the effort in a freshly cooked meal is there, but with a little more convenience.
Keep in mind that curries, stews, and stir-fries are best frozen. However, meals with mayonnaise, salad dressing, and cream sauces don’t freeze well. Not sure what to cook? We’ve got you covered.
The Busy Mum
Kids are generally fussier about food than grown-ups but a tried and tested dish that every kid and adult can appreciate is Bolognese sauce. It’s easy to make, customisable, and easy to freeze/heat in batches. You can also eat it with spaghetti or put it in sandwiches – sloppy joe style.
In the sea of Bolognese recipes on the internet, you’ll soon discover the basics you need for this versatile family staple is minced meat, garlic, onions, celery, carrot, chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned). Check out The Recipe Critic for a more in-depth recipe which they have labelled “The Very Best Bolognese Sauce”.
The Health Nut
Watching your calorie intake? Popular fitness app MyFitnessPal has come compiled 13 Freezable Low-Carb Dinners Under 400 calories and there are some tasty options to choose from. The Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken is a delectable option to eat with a side of salad or low-carb grains like quinoa or couscous.
The Serious Woman Who Likes Variety
As mentioned earlier, curries are excellent for freezing and also make a great foundation for a varied meal throughout the week. All you have to do is make the plain curry base – I like this green curry recipe – and place the portions in a zip lock bag.
Versatility is key with a curry base as you can later add different meats or vegetables. You can also choose to make it spicier by adding chilli. The curry also makes for a delicious broth to eat with rice, noodles, or even to dip some bread in.
Remember, after making any of the above meals, always cool them down before portioning and packing them in freezer-safe containers. If you are using zip-lock bags, squeeze out any air bubbles.