Frozen Foods: Are They Really That Bad For You?
The topic of healthy foods is on the rise, as more people are striking an interest in mindful eating. The dilemma with most Americans is that they have limited time to cook every single meal at home, let alone go grocery shopping frequently to stock up on fresh food. The convenience of grabbing a quick bite at a fast food restaurant or joining coworkers for lunch at a sports bar trumps meal planning all day on a Sunday. The concept of quick meal recipes is popular these days and is getting more people to eat from home, saving a great deal of money and calories over time. There are many services available offering delivery of fresh ingredients and recipes to cook, as well as other services of hot meal delivery, both of which beat going out to eat or ordering food when it comes trying to eat healthily.
If you want to cook from home, the quickest option is most likely microwaving a TV dinner for a few minutes and never looking back. Back in the day, frozen meals were known to be full of preservatives, fattening ingredients, and were bland and tasteless. This thought has given frozen food a bad reputation when actually there is such a thing as healthy frozen food options out there. It just takes the same amount of effort to check the nutrition labels as it does for fresh food options. There are several myths about frozen foods that should be debunked. You would be surprised to know that there are more frozen foods that are actually healthier than some of the fresh food options that claim to be healthy.
Not All are Loaded with Chemicals
The first thing people think of when they hear something about frozen meals is “preservatives”. The inclusion of many preservatives was probably common long ago, but many brands are sticking to all natural ingredients without any additives like sodium. The fact that these foods are frozen is enough to preserve them. It is fresh foods that need added preservatives if you want them to last longer. The idea that “frozen” means “preservatives” is wrong. It is best described as “preserved” and does not necessarily mean they include any chemicals.
Not All are High in Calories and Fat
Just as you read the labels of fresh food options, you should read the labels on frozen foods. Once you do you will find that there are several that are actually extremely diet friendly and low in calories and saturated fats. The key to making sure it falls within your calorie range is to check the serving size. Unfortunately, some frozen meals that look like they are for just one person, will actually be a two-serving size. This is common in meals that include a carbohydrate-rich food such as pasta or potatoes. You will see this in most frozen pizzas as well. Overall when you find those single serving meals, you can bet it is much safer than trusting a dish at a restaurant to be within your calorie limits. Frozen meals are already portioned to the amount we need.
Nutritional Value is Not Lost During Freezing
As some may believe, the vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients the food provides are not lost while being frozen. It is fresh food that loses its nutritional value over time as it spoils, whereas the frozen options maintain the majority of their nutrients as the freezing preserves them.
Mix & Match
If you are choosing frozen foods because of time constraints, consider only having half of your meal from a frozen food. For example, a dinner of a frozen turkey burger over a fresh three-ingredient salad is nowhere near unhealthy. You can make a salad in the time it takes to heat up the turkey burger. If you would rather have the fresh protein, then you can choose to grill a chicken breast while you microwave a bag of frozen vegetables. Cooking does not have to take as much time as most people think.
What to Watch Out For
Focus on keeping within the recommended serving size, which will depend on your individual calorie requirements. Just as you would opt for lower fat fresh foods, the same goes for frozen foods. Stay away from chain restaurants’ frozen versions of their meals they offer in-house. These are usually loaded with calories, fat, and extra sodium. After all, they want you to get a similar taste to what they have at the restaurant, which is usually never low in the ‘bad stuff’. Trying to stick with foods that claim “organic” or “all natural” is okay, but watch out for numbers on the nutritional facts. Most are loaded with higher calories, fats, and sugars than any other option. If you understand the true facts about frozen foods it should now be a little easier to choose which are safe to eat.