10 Healthy and Affordable Frozen Foods

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If you have a hectic lifestyle, you’re probably used to juggling several things at a time. For many people, this means cooking often ends up at the bottom of the to-do list.

Not having enough time to regularly prepare home-cooked meals can be a setback to healthy eating.

Luckily, nowadays you can find plenty of healthy frozen foods that may help you enjoy a nutritious, affordable meal that’s very quick and easy to prepare.

In this list I’ve included some of my freezer staples along with other healthy and affordable frozen food choices.

Frozen vegetables and fruits are common go-tos for stocking the freezer — and for good reason.

They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber and have a longer shelf life than fresh produce. Additionally, they’re sometimes cheaper than their fresh counterparts — especially when it comes to produce that’s out of season.

Additionally, research has consistently shown that frozen fruits and vegetables don’t have a lower nutritional quality than fresh. In fact, in some cases, freezing may even improve nutritional quality (1, 2, 3, 4).

Try blending a handful of frozen berries into a smoothie for an antioxidant-rich snack or stir-frying some mixed vegetables for a nutritious lunch or dinner.

Summary

Frozen fruits and vegetables are a healthy and affordable way to increase your daily vitamin, mineral, and fiber intake.

Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish popular among vegans and vegetarians. It’s made out of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), which are a rich source of plant-based protein and fiber (5).

Just a 2-ounce (56-gram) serving of about three small falafel patties can add 12 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber to your meal. These nutrients help with appetite control and blood sugar management (6, 7).

Since it’s precooked, frozen falafel is also very easy to prepare and can be ready in less than 10 minutes. However, it’s traditionally fried before being frozen, so, as with other fried foods, you might not want to eat it on a daily basis.

You can enjoy falafel by itself with a side of tzatziki or hummus or add it to a number of dishes. I mostly add it to salads and bowls.

Summary

Frozen falafel is an easy and convenient way to improve your meal’s nutritional quality.

Another frozen food you’ll always find in my freezer is edamame, immature soybeans that you steam or boil for a couple of minutes while they’re still in their pods.

Being a soy product, edamame is also rich in plant-based protein, fiber, and isoflavones — the compounds that may be behind most of soy’s health benefits.

Research has linked soy isoflavones with beneficial effects on many aspects of health, including (8, 9, 10, 11, 12):

  • heart health
  • weight control
  • certain types of cancer
  • type 2 diabetes
  • menopausal symptoms

As with falafel, you may enjoy edamame as a side dish or as part of a salad or bowl. Personally, I tend to snack on it while watching movies or as a midnight snack when I’m working late.

Summary

Edamame is another plant-based food rich in protein and fiber that makes for a quick, nutritious snack or side dish.

As a person who doesn’t like to cook, I find that having a couple of frozen animal-based protein sources at hand really does the trick for me. If you’re looking to reduce your red meat intake, turkey meatballs may work for you too.

Like chicken, turkey has a high quality protein content, meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids. It also contains very little fat, especially if you don’t eat the skin, as is the case with meatballs (13).

The most convenient aspect of frozen turkey meatballs is that they don’t even need to be thawed before you cook them. Instead, you can just place them straight into the oven, the microwave, the air fryer, or a pan on the stovetop and cook them as directed.

Finally, keep in mind that meatballs are not just meant to be eaten with spaghetti. Try having them with a side of rice and veggies for a balanced meal.

Summary

Frozen turkey meatballs are another poultry meat you can prepare in no time without breaking the bank.

Like turkey meatballs, chicken or fish patties are convenient and easy-to-make alternatives to red meat. They also tend to cost less than red meat products.

Both chicken and fish are excellent sources of high quality protein. Chicken is also a good source of B vitamins, iron, and selenium (13).

When it comes to fish patties, their nutritional characteristics depend on the type of fish.

For instance, salmon and tuna burgers are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are usually not breaded, which is often the case with cod. Also, salmon and tuna patties tend to be cheaper than fillets of those fish (14).

Summary

Chicken and fish patties are an easy way to add protein to your meals. Salmon and tuna patties also tend to be more affordable than fillets.

You might be well aware of cauliflower‘s popularity among low carb substitute products. Still, it’s popular for good reason.

Aside from lowering your dish’s carb count, cauliflower rice — which is basically shredded cauliflower — will easily increase the fiber, vitamin, and mineral content of your meal.

Adding high fiber foods to your diet may improve your gut health and help lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer (15, 16, 17).

The best part is that you can enjoy cauliflower rice pretty much the same way you’d eat regular rice. You can use it to make fried rice or stuffed vegetables or add it to smoothies and burritos. The possibilities are truly endless.

Summary

Cauliflower rice is a frozen product with great nutritional value and versatility. You can use it in many of the same dishes as regular rice, but it has fewer carbs and may increase the fiber, vitamin, and mineral content of your meal.

If you’re not a fan of cauliflower rice, then frozen brown rice may do the trick for you.

Frozen brown rice saves you the time-consuming process of cooking rice but still provides plenty of nutrients.

In addition to packing more fiber than white rice, brown rice contains phenolic compounds. These beneficial plant compounds act as antioxidants to fight free radicals and prevent damage in your cells (18, 19).

As with cauliflower rice, you can work brown rice into countless dishes, including salads, bowls, stir-fries, and porridge, or you can simply serve it as a side for your meal.

Summary

Frozen brown rice might be the nutritious, low cost ingredient you didn’t know you were missing. You can work it into just about any dish.

Veggie pizza crusts can give pizza night a nutritious boost.

Regular frozen pizza is a highly processed food that research has linked to a higher risk of heart disease. In contrast, frozen veggie pizza crusts may actually help you increase your daily veggie intake (20, 21).

Swapping your usual frozen pizza for a veggie crust will help you pack more veggies into your day.

It may also give you a chance to pick toppings that are healthier than the processed meats on a typical frozen pizza.

While cauliflower crusts are probably the most popular type of premade veggie pizza crust, there are other options to choose from, too, such as zucchini and broccoli.

Summary

Frozen veggie pizza crusts are a healthier way to keep enjoying pizza night.

This list wouldn’t be complete without a couple of sweet but healthy frozen treats. Greek yogurt bars are a nutritious way to satisfy your sweet cravings.

Greek yogurt is naturally high in protein and low in carbs and sugar, so it’s a healthier alternative to ice cream (22).

Being a fermented dairy product, Greek yogurt is a source of probiotics. These are friendly bacteria that have numerous health benefits, including (23, 24):

  • providing beneficial stimulation for your immune system
  • preventing and treating diarrhea
  • aiding lactose digestion

You may wonder whether freezing kills off the good bacteria in yogurt. Both older and more recent studies suggest that frozen fermented dairy products can still contain some live cultures of beneficial bacteria (25, 26, 27, 28).

Keep in mind that some Greek yogurt products contain high amounts of added sugars, which may increase your risk of weight gain, dental cavities, and type 2 diabetes (29).

Therefore, make sure to check nutrition facts and ingredient lists before buying and opt for versions with the lowest added sugar count. Also try to find versions that say “live cultures” on the container.

Alternatively, you can make a homemade version of a Greek yogurt dessert with this Greek yogurt bark recipe.

Summary

Greek yogurt bars are a healthy substitute for ice cream that will let you enjoy the benefits of probiotics while savoring a sweet treat.

If you’re looking for a healthy, dairy-free frozen treat, then ice pops are a great option.

Some types are loaded with sugar. However, some brands manage to keep a relatively low sugar content and provide a refreshing dessert for less than 50 calories per serving.

Making your own ice pops at home is also quite easy. Just blend your favorite fresh or frozen fruit with water and freeze the mixture in an ice pop mold.

The naturally occurring sugars in fruit will take care of your sweet craving without the need to add sugar, honey, or syrup.

Summary

Ice pops make for a healthy, refreshing, dairy-free treat. Just be mindful of their sugar content.

Eating healthy doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive.

Your supermarket’s frozen food aisle may provide you with a wide range of nutritious, convenient, and affordable options to help you sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Still, remember to check products’ nutritional information as you’d do with any other processed food. This will help ensure that you pick the healthiest options.

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