While the frozen foods aisle can be a trap – so many highly processed items with large amounts of fat and sodium, from pizza to breaded chicken strips – healthy choices can be found. The good news is that many frozen fruits and vegetables – without sauces and syrups – have all the nutrition of their fresh counterparts; sometime more so because they are packaged as soon they are harvested. Plus, they’re convenient (no worries about spoiling) and available year-round.
Smart Shopping Tips
Pay attention to serving sizes. The fat and sodium content may look good until you notice that the reasonable 5 g of fat and 200 mg of sodium is for one serving in a package that contains three.
Be creative. Look beyond traditional frozen dinners. Veggie or fish burgers can make a quick meal: heat in a toaster oven, microwave or on top of the stove, and add a side item. Add a whole-grain bun; top with low-fat cheese or salsa. Going gluten-free? You can also find quinoa and brown rice burgers.
Dump the lump. Make sure the vegetables haven’t frozen into a lump―a sign that they may have been thawed and refrozen. This means that the quality of the food has been affected and it’s likely less nutritious.
Give healthier pizza some pizzazz. Look for low-fat thin crust cheese pizza, then give your slices a nutritional boost by adding vegetables, from broccoli to spinach to bell peppers. But don’t think of pizza as a diet staple.
Skip the syrup. Top whole-grain waffles with fresh fruit and low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese, not butter and syrup.
Eat ethnic. Choose international foods that are heavy on vegetables (stir-fry, rice bowls with shrimp). You can even find some with brown rice.
Look closely. Always look at the sodium content so you can keep below your recommended daily intake – about 1,500-milligram sodium limit for most adults. Be aware that “low in calories” doesn’t mean “low in sodium” as some products up the salt to enhance flavor in lower calorie foods.