While frozen meals have come a long way since the days of TV dinners, they still remain highly processed. Most frozen meals contain a minimum of 500 mg of dietary sodium, added sugar and a handful of preservatives to keep them shelf-stable.
The next time you’re considering buying a frozen meal, why not create your own meals using what’s been left in your freezer? You’ll be surprised at how many easy dishes you could make using ingredients that you’ve already got on hand.
Let’s start with frozen veggies. Frozen vegetables are an inexpensive alternative to fresh and are just as nutritious. Unless they’re swimming in cheese or cream sauce, most varieties contain minimal sodium and zero fat. They’re picked at their peak of ripeness and frozen to seal in vitamins and minerals.
Frozen peppers and onions add great flavor and color to omelets, quiches, stir fries, fajitas or spaghetti sauce. Chopped broccoli or California blend vegetables also go well in stir fries or added to sheet pan dinners with chicken or fish. If you’ve got fresh or frozen ginger on hand or ginger paste, this can be added to a stir fry easily.
Another great option is a one pot meal in a slow-cooker or instant pot. Frozen veggies may be sauteed with aromatics like garlic and onions and added to chili, soup, rice, lentil or quinoa dishes. Adding dried herbs or spices gives these dishes a kick of flavor. I keep cumin, chili powder and paprika on hand for chili and soup as well as basil, oregano and rosemary for pasta or grain dishes.
Chopped, frozen spinach is another great vegetable to use in a variety of dishes. It can be used on in a frittata, quiche, omelets, or veggie pizza. It can also be added to soup, pasta or rice dishes. Sautee it in olive oil with garlic and pair it with canned white beans for a quick, inexpensive, Mediterranean side dish.
Use frozen peas, carrots or mixed vegetables in soup or Shepard’s pie. They can also be added to pasta dishes for a pop of color, texture and flavor.
Tune in next week to see what frozen fruit can do for you!
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and owner of Sound Bites Nutrition in Cincinnati. She shares her clinical, culinary, and community nutrition knowledge through cooking demos, teaching, and freelance writing. Lisa is a regular contributor to Food and Health Communications and Today’s Dietitian and is the author of the Healing Gout Cookbook, Complete Thyroid Cookbook, and Heart Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. Her line of food pun merchandise, Lettuce beet hunger, supports those suffering food insecurity in Cincinnati. For more information, visit her website: https://soundbitesnutrition.com/