When you’re on the go and trying to manage a busy schedule, frozen food is convenient and easy to prepare – simply remove from the bag or box, heat in a pan on the stove-top, place in a pan in the oven, or cook directly in a microwave, and in minutes you’re ready to sit down and eat. Unfortunately, frozen meals also have a reputation for being unhealthy and saturated with dangerous fats and salt. However, consumer demand is forcing more and more healthy frozen food options to appear in the freezer case, so when you need a frozen dinner you won’t have to sacrifice your commitment to good healthy and solid nutrition.
A quick review of the freezer aisle at any grocery store will show dozens of frozen food options – but what are the healthiest choices? And how can you avoid purchasing frozen food that was processed using GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)?
Consider reviewing the The Institute for Responsible Technology packaged frozen meal list. The Institute for Responsible Technology investigates and reports on GMOs and the impact they have on our health and the environment as well as reviewing the corporate practices, reporting, research and regulations that are currently in place. Their handy shopping guides can help you to find brands (like Tommy’s Superfoods!) that are committed to being free of GMOs in the food they produce.
In addition to avoiding GMOs, you’ll want to carefully read the package of any frozen food selection and follow a few basic nutrition guidelines just to ensure that you pick a healthy frozen food choice.
Finding Healthy Frozen Dinners:
Frozen dinners are notorious for having very high levels of salt. Be sure to look for frozen dinners that have 700 mg of sodium or less and no more than 4 grams of saturated fat per serving. Look for choices that are high in fiber and protein and be careful of frozen dinners that also contain a dessert portion – that little square of cake or pie can easily add high amounts of sugars and more fat into your meal.
Finding Healthy Frozen Pizzas:
Consumer demand for healthy frozen pizzas has resulted in some new options now being available. While you can still find plenty of greasy cheese and pepperoni frozen pizzas, there are also healthier choices with roasted chicken, spinach, and grilled vegetables. However, even if a frozen pizza looks like a healthy choice, it’s worth taking a moment to review the ingredient panel and make sure each serving has acceptable levels of saturated fat and sodium and at least 12 grams of protein. Be on the look-out to avoid anything with trans fat (partially hydrogenated oil or shortening) which can be used as an ingredient in pizza crust or cheese.
Finding Healthy Frozen Lasagna:
Lasagna is a delicious comfort food, but you’ll want to try to avoid a frozen lasagna that is full of meat, cheese, milk and cream. As with frozen meals and frozen pizza, look for options that have no more than 10 grams of fat (with no more than 4 being saturated), have close to 12 grams of protein and under 700mg of sodium. Look for vegetable lasagna options or reduce your portion size of meat lasagna and supplement it with a salad or cooked vegetables.
Finding Healthy Frozen Fruits and Vegetables:
Frozen fruits and veggies can be even more nutritious than their fresh counterparts because they are harvested at peak ripeness, when the nutrient count is highest, and then flash frozen to preserve the flavor, vitamins, and minerals. Packages of unopened frozen vegetables or fruits keep their flavor and nutrition for up to eight months when stored properly in the freezer. Be sure to use opened packages within two months to prevent dehydration and ice crystals from forming.
There’s no difference between frozen vegetables or fruits that are sold in boxes or bags, so pick the packaging option that is most convenient for you. Just make sure if you choose frozen veggies in a steam-able bag, that you choose something BPA-free, like Tommy’s Superfoods.
You’ll also want to look at the ingredient list to make sure you aren’t buying frozen fruit that is packed in syrup or sugar or vegetables that are frozen with cheese or heavy cream sauces. If you’re wanting something more than plain frozen vegetables, check out options that use herbs and natural seasonings to enhance flavor (such as our Frozen Seasoned Vegetable Medley).
Taking the easy road and buying frozen meals doesn’t have to result in an unhealthy diet. When you do the research and have all of these facts about nutrition, avoiding GMOs, saturated fats and high levels of sodium, you can put healthy frozen food on your dinner table and not have to sacrifice delicious flavors or your time.