Frozen foods often get a bad rap. Some people say they aren’t as tasty, are too highly processed, or just plain cheap. I say the opposite: Many frozen foods are tasty; they are often frozen at the height of ripeness; and I think cheap is good. If you are trying to lose weight but you turn your nose up at frozen foods, I want you to take a second look at this underrated dieter’s friend.
I purchase quite a bit of frozen food—but not highly processed frozen foods. You won’t find any frozen diet dinners, boxes of frozen lasagna or macaroni and cheese, or frozen breakfast foods in my freezer. I buy frozen fruit, vegetables, chicken, veggie burgers, fruit popsicles, and sometimes ice cream.
If you aren’t sure how frozen foods can benefit your weight loss efforts, I’ve put together a short list.
1. Long Shelf Life
Frozen foods have a long shelf life, which can save you money and ensure you have healthy food on hand at all times. Have you ever bought a container of fresh strawberries and forgotten about them? They go bad very quickly. If you have frozen strawberries on hand you can still make that smoothie or add strawberries to your oatmeal.
2. Nutritionally Sound
Some people believe that freezing makes fruits and vegetables lose their nutrients. But the American Frozen Food Institute indicates that many frozen fruits and vegetables have almost identical nutrients as fresh because of the methods used to quickly cool and freeze the foods.
I have to say though: always read the ingredient label. Look for fruits and vegetables that don’t have sauces or added sugars. And when purchasing frozen meats or grains, look for those with little or no preservatives.
Frozen foods are incredibly versatile. Vegetables can be used in soups, as side dishes, and in salads. I buy large bags of frozen stir-fry vegetables and use them in fajitas, Asian stir-fries, and soup. Frozen fruits are great in smoothies, eaten by themselves, or used as a base for homemade popsicles or drinks. Remember that making meals from scratch, whether with fresh or frozen foods, is a way you can control your calories.
4. Always in Season
If you try to eat fruits and vegetables that are in season, you know that it is almost impossible to find locally grown cucumbers in the dead of winter unless you live in a very southern region. Frozen fruit and vegetables allow you to eat foods that aren't in season year-round.
5. Diet Friendly
If you choose wisely, you can find a variety of frozen foods that are diet friendly. For example, here are 10 diet-friendly frozen foods:
- Black-eyed peas
- Lima beans
- Mixed vegetables
- Strawberries or other fruits
- Rice and grains (usually partially cooked)
- Plain potatoes
- Chicken, natural beef, or organic vegetable burgers
- Bread products such as Ezekiel Bread
- Sherbet or sorbet
6. Easy to Repurpose
You can repurpose and repackage frozen foods into individual homemade frozen diet meals very easily. Put some frozen vegetables, chicken strips, and homemade sauce into a divided container and freeze. Take the container to work with you and microwave until cooked through. It’s cheaper and healthier than purchasing a traditional diet meal.