Here's the good news: frozen fruits and vegetables not only last longer in the freezer, but they are equal to (if not greater than) the nutritional value of fresh fruits and vegetables. I recently read an article from the Frozen Food Foundation that revealed Americans are failing to consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet. If you are like me, half of your attempt goes in the garbage. So, why not find a solution that will help you increase your fruits and veggies and save big bucks! Let's be real: fresh fruits and vegetables (especially when it's not in season) can be expensive. Have you done a price comparison of fresh green beans to frozen? It can make a big difference. As a college kid on a budget, you may want to save as much as possible. This is an easy way to make a positive change on your wallet and diet.
Just as you need to plan your menu for the week, take a look at your meals and see what items you can purchase frozen. Be careful not to purchase vegetables with added salt or sauces, as they will add a lot of calories to your meal. The same rule applies to frozen fruit. Need some ideas on how to use frozen fruits and veggies? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Vegetable soup: Buy the vegetable medley, add some sauteed onion and garlic, canned dice tomatoes, broth, lentils, and you've got a delicious vegetable soup for the week.
- Side dishes: baking some simple chicken and need a side item? Frozen vegetables are a perfect quick addition. One of my favorite frozen option to purchase is a vegetable medley. It adds a lot of color to your meal and gives you a nice variety at dinner time. Other great vegetable options are frozen steamers (heat in a microwave and your done), green beans or peas, Brussel sprouts, and corn.
- Fruit smoothies: Thought I'd leave out fruit? Never! Frozen fruit are perfect for a morning smoothie or as a snack. Add a berry mix, frozen strawberries, or blueberries to your blender with yogurt and almond milk and you've added fruit to your day. Don't have a blender? Add fruit to cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt with granola and you've got a delicious breakfast.
- Stove top or oven vegetables: Most frozen vegetables work best steamed, on the stove (cooked in olive oil with herbs or boiled in water) or roasted in the oven. Some recipes will call for cooking immediately out of the freezer, but I find it helpful to let some defrost to get rid of extra added water. The added water can make some veggies mushy if you are roasting them in the oven.