If your lifestyle is hectic, you’re probably used to doing several things at once. This means that, for many people, cooking is not a priority. If you don’t have time to cook healthy meals at home, it can be difficult to eat well.
There are many frozen foods available that are healthy and can help you have a nutritious, affordable meal. Frozen foods often get a bad rap in the health community. However, these meals are quick and easy to prepare. Here are some of my healthy and affordable frozen food choices:
1. Fruits and Vegetables
Frozen vegetables and fruits are good to have in the freezer.
Frozen fruits contain a lot of nutrients like vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. They also last longer than fresh fruits. Frozen foods can be a great budget-friendly option, often being cheaper than fresh foods – especially produce that is not in season.
Research has consistently shown that frozen fruits and vegetables have the same nutritional quality as fresh. Some experts believe that freezing food can actually improve its nutritional quality.
Adding frozen berries to a smoothie for a healthy snack option packed with antioxidants. Another option is stir-frying frozen mixed vegetables for a nutritious lunch or dinner.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are a good way to get your daily vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are also affordable.
A popular Middle Eastern dish among vegans and vegetarians is falafel. The dish is composed of chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. These beans are a good source of plant-based protein and fiber.
You can add 12 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber to your meal by just eating 2 ounces (56 grams) of falafel, which is about three small patties. The nutrients in this food help you to feel full and manage your blood sugar levels.
Frozen falafel is already cooked, so it is very easy to prepare. You can have it ready to eat in less than 10 minutes. However, it’s not the healthiest option as it’s fried before being frozen. So, like with other fried foods, you might not want to eat it every day.
Falafel can be a side or main dish. It can be eaten by itself with tzatziki, hummus, or other sauces, or added to other dishes. I mostly add it to salads and bowls.
Frozen falafel is a convenient way to improve the nutritional quality of your meal.
You’ll always find edamame, immature soybeans still in their pods, in my freezer. You steam or boil them for a couple minutes.
Soy products like edamame are rich in plant-based protein, fiber, and isoflavones – which are believed to be responsible for many of soy’s health benefits.
Research has linked soy isoflavones with beneficial effects on many aspects of health, including:
- heart health
- weight control
- certain types of cancer
- type 2 diabetes
- menopausal symptoms
Edamame can be served as a side dish or as part of a salad or bowl, similarly to falafel. I like to eat popcorn while watching movies or as a late night snack when I’m working.
Edamame is a quick, nutritious snack or side dish that is rich in protein and fiber.
Since I don’t enjoy cooking, I appreciate having a few frozen animal-based protein options readily available to me. If you’re trying to eat less red meat, turkey meatballs may be a good option for you.
Turkey contains a high quality protein, which means it has all the essential amino acids. This food contains very little fat, especially if you do not eat the skin, which is often the case with meatballs.
You can cook frozen turkey meatballs without even thawing them first by placing them straight into the oven, the microwave, the air fryer, or a pan on the stovetop and cooking them as directed.
Remember that meatballs can be eaten with other things besides spaghetti. A side of rice and veggies would be a good addition to this meal.
Frozen turkey meatballs can be quickly and easily prepared without spending a lot of money.
Just like turkey meatballs, chicken or fish patties are quick and easy to make, and are good substitutes for red meat.
Both chicken and fish are excellent sources of high quality protein. They are also low in saturated fat and cholesterol, making them a healthy choice for people trying to improve their heart health. Chicken is a good source of B vitamins, iron, and selenium. The same is true for fish sticks. The nutritional characteristics of fish patties and fish sticks depend on the type of fish.
For example, salmon and tuna burgers contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids and are usually not breaded like cod. Patties made from salmon and tuna are usually cheaper than fillets of those fish.
You can easily add protein to your meals by making chicken or fish patties. Patties made from salmon and tuna are usually less expensive than fillets.
6. Cauliflower Rice
You may know that cauliflower is used as a low carb substitute in many products. Still, it’s popular for good reason.
Cauliflower rice is a great way to lower the carb count in a dish, as well as increase the fiber, vitamin, and mineral content.
Fiber-rich foods may improve gut health and help protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
You can eat cauliflower rice in the same way you would eat regular rice. It can be used to make fried rice, stuffed vegetables, or smoothies and burritos. The possibilities are truly endless.
The frozen cauliflower rice product is highly nutritious and can be used in a variety of ways. You can cook it like regular rice, but it has fewer carbs and more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
7. Brown Rice
Frozen brown rice may be a better option for you if you do not like cauliflower rice. Frozen brown rice is just as nutritious as freshly cooked rice, but takes a fraction of the time to make.
Brown rice also contains phenolic compounds in addition to packing more fiber than white rice. The plant compounds act as antioxidants to protect cells from free radical damage.
You can use brown rice in many different dishes, or you can have it as a side dish.
Frozen brown rice is a nutritious, low cost ingredient that you may not have known you were missing. You can work it into just about any dish.
8. Veggie Pizza Crust
If you’re looking for a way to make your pizza night a little healthier, try using a veggie crust.
Frozen pizza that is not considered to be “healthy” has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease by research. Frozen veggie pizza crusts may help you to eat more vegetables each day.
If you want to eat more vegetables, try swapping your frozen pizza for one with a vegetable crust. You may also have the opportunity to choose healthier toppings than processed meats on a typical frozen pizza.
There are several types of premade veggie pizza crusts to choose from, including cauliflower, zucchini, and broccoli.
If you want to keep eating pizza but want a healthier option, try a frozen veggie pizza crust.
9. No Bull Veggie Burgers
“These are a personal favorite of mine and my clients love them too—even meat-eaters,” says Sydney Greene, MS, RD.
This vegan burger is made with filling ingredients like lentils, quinoa, chia seeds, and spinach.
One patty contains 10 grams of protein, which is more than other frozen veggie burgers, and 9 grams of fiber, which is 30% of the recommended daily intake.
10. Amy’s Gluten-Free Non-Dairy Burrito
If you need a quick grab and go lunch Amy’s frozen burritos are a great vegetarian option to keep in the freezer. They are low in calories and full of protein. Convenient and satisfying.
11. Kashi Creamy Cashew Noodle Bowl
This is a great frozen option to keep on hand when your schedule is busy and dinner needs to be made fast. You can add some extra veggies or tofu if desired.
12. SoDelicious Dairy Free Coconutmilk No Added Sugar Fudge Bars
If you are like me and want a sweet at the end of the day, these bars a healthier option.
Each bar is 80 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 150 mg of potassium and 0 grams of added sugar. It is dairy-free, so it can fit a variety of eating patterns.
I love that the come in individual portions (stick to just one) and are a no mess dessert. There are many health benefits to coconut.
Not a coconut fan? The also make the best tasting, non-dairy frozen vanilla sandwiches using almond milk.
13. Frozen Chopped Spinach
Frozen spinach lasts a lot longer than fresh spinach. Frozen chopped spinach can be thrown into everything like smoothies, soups, tofu scrambles. casseroles, and rice and bean bowls.
The Bottom Line
Eating healthy doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive.
The frozen food aisle of your supermarket may be a good source of affordable and convenient foods that can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Make sure to check the nutritional information on products even when they say they are organic. This will help you choose the most healthful options.