When thinking of healthy eating, frozen food probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Not all frozen foods are highly processed, less nutritious and expensive. Which frozen food options should you choose to suit your lifestyle and budget, and how good are they?

1. Frozen Foods can be Healthy

Jenn LaVardera, MS, RD, says there are lots of healthy choices in the frozen food aisles, but you need time and patience to search for those that have wholesome ingredient lists.

Avoid preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, or added salt and sugar. LaVardera says you should then turn your attention to the nutrition panel. Check for things like saturated and trans fats, and for how much fiber and protein there are.

Also check to make sure the vegetable or fruit is the only ingredient listed on the package, as sauces or added seasonings can be full of sodium.

2. Fresh and Frozen Foods can be Cooked Together

freeze-foods

You can add vegetables into pasta or rice to make the meal healthier. With good seasoning, they can taste great without needing a lot of your time and effort. Adding frozen food can complement your grains or protein.

3. Frozen Foods Have Lots of Nutrients

Packaged and frozen fruit and vegetables often have as many, (or possibly more,) nutrients than fresh ones. The reason is the speed with which frozen foods are dealt with. Fruit and veg go from the farm to be cleaned, then they are immediately flash frozen. Fresh fruits and veggies are sprayed with chemicals to help them last longer on the shelf, according to nutritional chef Melissa Eboli.

Frozen meat also doesn’t have preservatives or colorings.

4. Frozen Foods are Quick

We all have days where we just have no time to cook healthily, and for those days you should have a stash of healthy frozen meals to hand, says LaVardera. She recommends looking for products with whole grains and vegetables.

5. Frozen Foods can be Cheaper

Frozen food is typically less expensive than fresh, and it tastes just as good, says Eboli.

6. Frozen Meals can Help with Portion Control

Frozen meals usually come in single serving sizes, and that can teach us about portion sizes. Nowadays we tend to eat way more than we need at mealtimes, and we underestimate how many calories we are actually eating. The portions may look small, but they are how we should be measuring out all our meals.