You may think fresh is best, but frozen foods such as produce can be a busy home chef’s best friend. Keeping your freezer stocked means delicious and nutritious foods are ready-to-use, making mealtime quick and easy.
Frozen foods also last much longer and allow you to use what you need and store the rest – ultimately wasting less food and saving money. In the United States, between 30-40 percent of food is wasted, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Much of this comes from people at home tossing less than picture-perfect vegetables and not understanding expiration dates on food labels. If you’re tired of throwing out those brown bananas or that bag of wilting leafy greens at the end of the week, it may be time to consider hitting the freezer aisle on your next grocery run.
Why the Freezer is Your Friend
You’ll find an abundance of options, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Unlike processed and canned fruits and vegetables you see on the shelf, their frozen counterparts retain more of their nutritional value and flavor.
All the cleaning and chopping are already done, saving you time. Most frozen foods can be popped into a microwave, air fryer or crockpot to make preparation simple. Just check the bag for cooking suggestions. All of the vegetables you need for this quick eight-vegetable soup can be found in the freezer section!
Plus, you can save money since frozen foods are consistently priced year-round. No need to worry about whether or not you’ll be able to find something if it’s not “in season.” (Make these perfect strawberry-mango popsicles all year long.)
When shopping for frozen fruits and vegetables, it’s important to keep an eye out for added sugar, salt, and sauces. Buying unseasoned produce allows you to control the sodium content and the flavor of your dish.
Don’t Toss Those Veggies Yet!
If you still prefer to buy fresh vegetables, but don’t get around to using them before they “go bad,” don’t fret. There’s still hope for them. Slightly damaged or browning produce can be cleaned and used in dishes like soups, stir-fries, baked goods and more like this skillet zucchini and chopped tomatoes to serve over rice (try cauliflower rice!) or pasta. Those unsightly peppers or limp kale can be chopped and scrambled in eggs or turned into this southwest vegetable frittata.
The Natural Resources Defense Council also has an entire website dedicated to making the most of your food and reducing waste. Check them out if you’re interested in meal planning and recipes!