The 8 Best Frozen Veggies to Buy
Right now, you might be relying on frozen and canned foods more than usual. And, you might be wondering which are the best frozen veggies (and are they really as good as the fresh)? Will they be mushy and water-logged or taste as good as when they are harvested from the field?
Unlike fresh produce, which is often harvested before reaching its peak flavor and then shipped long distances before ever hitting your local supermarket, frozen vegetables tend to be harvested and usually preserved at the top of their game.
If you want to stock your freezer smartly, frozen vegetables are often as healthy — and sometimes healthier — than fresh vegetables and can cost significantly less.
There’s really no difference in quality between store brands or the name brands, but keep an eye on the front of the packages to find different cuts or preparations of veggies. For example, broccoli florets are only the top part of the broccoli, while broccoli “cuts” include the stems. (That’s a matter of preference and texture.)
Here are some easy-to-find options for packing your freezer with ready-to-go nutrients.
Cauliflower has a ton of uses, but when you buy it frozen, be sure to drain the florets to avoid sogginess. This will ensure perfectly creamy (and not watery) cauliflower mash every time. (You’ll want to use only fresh cauliflower for things like buffalo wings and roasted cauliflower. The frozen won’t hold up.)
Note that cauliflower rice often holds its texture and shape even better than florets do. Whether you’re looking to add more veggies to any meal or want a lower-carb rice swap, look for frozen cauli rice at your supermarket.
A staple of classic frozen vegetable medleys, corn is one of those veggies that is actually better for you frozen than fresh. Fresh corn has 6.26 grams of sugar per 100 grams versus 3.36 grams in frozen corn. When cooked, it delivers 5 grams of protein per cup.
Thaw and drain your corn, then toss onto salads and into soups and salsas for sweetness and crunch.
Stashing butternut squash spirals (or other premade vegetable noodles) in your freezer is like having a box of pasta in your pantry. They’re perfect for quick and healthy meals. The key with veggie noodles (and frozen vegetables in general) is choosing types that don’t have any added butter, cheese, or sauces.
Butternut squash puree is another frozen staple to keep on hand for soups, side dishes, and even oatmeal.
Many leafy salad greens aren’t freezer-friendly. (Ew, frozen lettuce!) But, spinach, kale, and other hearty dark greens like collards freeze well. Use them in omelets, smoothies, and other dishes, such as our protein-packed stuffed chicken. (Frozen spinach can actually retain higher levels of folate than fresh, too.)
Be sure to drain your frozen spinach really, really well after thawing it. Place in a clean dish towel and test your grip strength by wringing it out completely.
Thaw and drain your broccoli, then roast it until crispy with plenty of lemon zest and black pepper. Or keep it simple and steam or microwave until tender yet crisp.
6. Green peas
Frozen green peas are the perfect kitchen shortcut because they’re as nutritious as their fresh counterparts and take no time to toss into soups, sauces, or even salads. They’re an easy way to sneak in more vegetables and provide 9 grams of protein per cup.
Pair frozen peas with some cauliflower rice and a baked chicken breast, plus your sauce of choice, for an easy-peasy (pun intended) healthy dinner in no time.
7. Green beans
With about only two calories per bean (or 31 calories per cup), green beans are a tasty, low-cal side dish loaded with fiber. They’re delicious when steamed and served plain or when roasted until crispy.
Keep a bag on hand for nights when you want a little more green on your plate for very little effort.
Mushrooms offer dietary fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals but are low in calories.However, frozen mushrooms are a little slimy straight out of the bag. Boost their flavor and texture by sauteing them in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until most of the moisture evaporates. Then add the rest of your ingredients once your mushrooms have started to brown.
They’ll add tons of rich flavor and umami to omelets, soups, tacos, and more for relatively few calories.
Selected nutrient analyses of fresh, fresh-stored, and frozen fruits and vegetables
- Corn, sweet, yellow, raw fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169998/nutrients
- Corn, yellow, whole kernel, frozen, microwaved fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169217/nutrients
- Beans, snap, green, raw fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169961/nutrients
- Mushrooms, cooked, from frozen, fat not added in cooking fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/788295/nutrients