What's the one frozen food I always have on hand? Frozen vegetables! They are my go-to staple that allow me to prepare nutritious and varied meals no matter how sparse the rest of my pantry. Right now I have cubed butternut squash, petite peas, broccoli florets, edamame in the pod, and baby lima beans.
I was first introduced to frozen vegetables as a child when my parents bought a chest freezer. Every three months a delivery arrived on our back porch. The carefully labeled brown corrugated boxes packed in dry ice were filled with every cut of beef imaginable, cylinders of frozen orange juice concentrate, and tidy square boxes of frozen vegetables.
My sisters and I had the privilege of taking turns to pick out what vegetable our family would have for dinner each night. Thus began my exposure to an international assortment of frozen vegetables that included everything from French cut green beans Brussels sprouts.
What's new in the frozen food aisle?
If you think Americans don't like frozen vegetables, think again. Freezer cases in grocery stores devote as much space to vegetables as they do ice cream.
Frozen vegetables are now available in single-serving containers and family-sized bags as well as those same tidy 10 ounce boxes. As if it weren't convenient enough not having to clean, peel, or chop frozen vegetables, you can now also steam them right in the bag or box in your microwave oven.
The assortment of individual vegetables has expanded beyond the classic green beans, carrots, peas, and corn, and so have the medleys. They come with embellishments, too, to win over the fussiest eaters. You can find frozen vegetables with butter, cheese, or teriyaki sauce, and creamed. Some are combined with rice, potatoes, or pasta while others just need the addition of chicken, beef or shrimp to make a complete meal.
Why pick frozen over fresh?
When it comes to vegetables, buying them frozen insures you are getting the best quality at the best price all year round. The varieties grown are selected for their flavor, not their durability, and can be harvested at their nutritional peak since they don't have to withstand the long shipping and storage times necessary for fresh vegetables. And remember, the longer a fresh vegetable spends in your refrigerator, the less nutritious it is by the time you eat it.
What frozen vegetables do you have in your freezer?