Woman taking out frozen meal from microwave

What Exactly Is Frozen Food?

It’s morning. You give a nice big yawn, stretch out a bit, take a look at your phone’s clock, and that’s when you realize…

You’re late for work.

It happens to the best of us. You brush your teeth, throw on the least wrinkly dress shirt, and then rush to the kitchen.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but for right now, you’re concentrating on getting to that 9:00 AM meeting.

You scour the fridge for any potential lunch options, but you realize that your kids split the leftovers and ran off before you can catch them. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the cold cuts just expired, the lettuce is looking a little rotten, and you’re getting sick of canned soup.

So…now what?

You decide to quickly scan the freezer, and lo and behold, there’s one frozen meal left; Roasted Turkey and gravy with green beans, sweet cranberries, and slivered almonds. You give an uninterested glance at it. It’s not much, but it will get the job done. So you unenthusiastically grab it and run out the door.

But why do you feel uneasy with your choice? Is frozen food really THAT bad?

Well, let’s check it out.

Calories In Frozen Food

The thing with frozen food is you’re paying for the convenience, so it’s to be expected that it’s not the healthiest option. The nutritional value and calories found in frozen food can vary differently. But you may be surprised to learn that not all of it is so dissimilar. For example, your average frozen pizza comes very close nutritionally to a pie from your favorite pizzeria. Still a lot of calories (approximately 2,000), but hey, not as bad as you thought. And if a frozen food product uses words like “organic” or “authentic”, you shouldn’t believe it most of the time. Also, the amount of saturated fat and sodium found in some of these meals can be quite high. Like half of your day’s calories kinda high. Always take a look at the nutrition facts found on the food’s label.

Serving Sizes

To the untrained eye, a majority of frozen meals appear to have small serving sizes. But don’t let the packaging fool you; most of the time, they contain 2 serving sizes. Those nutritional numbers can be surprising. A basic pasta meal, like fettuccine Alfredo, can hit 600 calories, over 10 grams of saturated fat, and far too much sodium for anyone’s daily intake. And it becomes even more tempting when it’s branded from a chain restaurant. We know you’re looking at that Cheese Manicotti from Boston Market.

Healthier Choices

But what about the frozen foods and meals that claim to have healthier choices? Is that legitimate?

In moderation, yes.

For example, if you were to go for a low-fat option like a Zucchini Noodle Pasta, that would only contain 260-300 calories. But only if you eat one.

In a 2013 study at the University of Georgia, fresh and frozen blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, and other vegetables were purchased from six different markets. The nutrition levels were analyzed between the frozen and fresh produce upon purchasing and after 5 days in a refrigerator. It appeared that the nutrient levels on the day of purchase between both product sets were similar. The difference being that after 5 days, the fresh produce lost significant vitamin content.

So What’s The Verdict?

It’s not that complicated, folks. The frozen-food section in a supermarket sometimes seems taboo, but it’s all about making smart decisions. Just take a second to read the nutrition facts on each product’s label, and you’ll be good to go!