March is a month that honors many great things – women, nutrition, and Irish heritage, to name just a few of my favorites. Did you know it’s also National Frozen Food Month? Let’s take a moment to honor this versatile, convenient and often under-respected modern food option!
As a busy working mom with a partner who travels fairly often, I often rely on frozen food to help us get through the week. Whether you’re home or not, there are days or seasons with no time for home-cooked meals (meal prep all you want, food still takes time to cook!). Or when you only get a couple precious hours with your kiddos after a long day and don’t want to spend that time in the kitchen, frozen food can be SUCH a lifesaver. And while many convenience meals get a bad rap in the health department, with a little label checking you can find plenty of nutritious options in the freezer aisle these days.
Here are a few of my favorites that help me craft a quick and healthy(ish) meal, sans drive-thru!
Frozen fruits and veggies are an obvious headliner. Remember, produce is frozen at its peak so that it generally maintains as much or even more of its nutritional profile than fresh by the time it reaches you and gets used. And if you’re like me, it’s typically less wasteful to buy frozen – I have such a habit of overbuying fresh produce when I see the vibrant colors and think of all the vitamins and antioxidants in my presence. And then my heart breaks when I don’t use them before they go bad and into the trash. So I try to be realistic about what I know I’ll use in the next couple days versus what I like to keep on hand for whenever, and buy frozen for the latter.
Turkey meatballs – Sometimes I pretend I made dinner but really I just boiled some pasta, nuked frozen meatballs and warmed up some jarred sauce. I did all the steps, so I get credit for a homemade meal, right? My kids are also perfectly happy with meatballs as the main protein, a veggie and a roll. We all know they’re mainly here for the rolls.
Dr. Praeger’s Spinach Littles and Broccoli Littles – These were on HEAVY rotation in our house when my kiddos were small. Despite my best efforts and starting both on solids with vegetables, neither of my children were great with veggies once they got some variety in their diets. But they would DEVOUR these cute-shaped veggie cakes so much that I’d go to Whole Foods to stock up because they were $1 less there than at my grocery store (maybe the only thing that costs less there…). Try ‘em!
All things cauliflower – This gets a separate line item from veggies because I’m so darn impressed with all the amazing things the food people have come up with to make with cauliflower. My faves are riced cauli (use it just like rice, or make tots with a few other ingredients), mashed cauliflower, cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe’s, and cauliflower-crusted pizza (just once so far, but I’d totally get it again!).
Peeled, cooked shrimp – Feels like a splurge sometimes, but I stock up when I see a sale! These thaw quickly, and one bag lasts us a few meals so we always have them on hand in the freezer. Shrimp offers good lean protein and lots of versatility. My go-tos are to chop and put in quesadillas, add as protein on a plate of zoodles with some fresh parmesan, or simply cocktail-style.
Of course we do some chicken nuggets and ice cream and most of your typical frozen kid delights too now and then. But the items highlighted here really help me balance the time I have with the level of mom-guilt that often comes with a less-than-freshly-homemade family dinner. And my kids don’t like my cooking that much anyway ;).
What frozen foods are regularly on your shopping list? Please share!