The pandemic forced us to alter many of our behaviors and taught us several lessons. We learned how to be a bit more resourceful and resilient, including in the kitchen. The combination of restaurant closures, financial concerns, and safety sent people to their kitchens to whip up nutritious, home-cooked meals where they “discovered” the convenience and value of frozen food once again. Frozen foods proved to be a pandemic powerhouse, with retail sales in the U.S. growing by 21 percent in 2020, totaling more than $65 billion.
Frozen food is not new, of course, but historically, it’s often got a bad rap. Thanks, in part to the pandemic but also innovations in the industry, loyal frozen food shoppers are purchasing more, and new customers are discovering the expansion and culinary innovation offered by frozen foods.
Benefits of Frozen Food
Offers a Great Source of Nutrients
Today, frozen foods are flash-frozen, which means they’re quickly frozen at a lower temperature. Fruits and vegetables, for example, are picked at peak ripeness and frozen within hours of harvest, locking in nutrients and flavor. In addition, the flash-freezing process maintains the cellular integrity of the food, which allows all the nutrients to be fully retained and preserved. One study even found that people who regularly ate frozen meals had higher daily intakes of essential nutrients such as protein, fiber, and potassium.
There’s no magic diet that can guarantee a longer and healthier life. However, eating a so-called “5 A Day” diet, while not magical, is associated with longevity. The results of more than three decades of research have shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables consistently reduces the risk for the chronic health conditions that are the leading causes of death, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately, we don’t always do what we know we should do, even when it seems simple. A few years ago, a study found that only a small percentage of adults in the US consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Only slightly over 13 percent ate enough fruit, and even fewer, less than nine percent, met the vegetable recommendations.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why we don’t eat as many fruits and vegetables as we should. However, previous studies have found that high cost, limited availability and access, and perceived lack of cooking/preparation time can be barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption.
Frozen foods are an affordable way to get your daily dose of fruits and vegetables. In addition, the nutritional value of many frozen fruits and vegetables is even greater than fresh-stored produce.
If you’re like most people, your days are packed with responsibilities. But, when it comes to preparing and serving a quick, nutritious meal, nothing beats the convenience of frozen foods. They’re easy to store in your freezer, keep for a long time, and they can be prepared quickly. From frozen pasta to flash frozen vegetables, you can deliver a delicious meal in mere minutes.
Because frozen foods have a long shelf life, it means wasting less food. Not only will that save you money in the long run, but it’s also better for the environment. Approximately 80 billion pounds of food was thrown away in the US in 2020. Rather than ending up in landfills, it’s food that could feed the estimated 45 million people (including 15 million children) who experienced food insecurity in 2020 in the US.
A trip down the frozen food aisle opens up a world of culinary adventure. International options, from egg rolls to enchiladas, packed with authentic flavors and quality ingredients, tempt the palate. And, the freezing process also provides out-of-season foods year-round. A great option for picky eaters and tasty morning smoothies!
The choices are endless for snacks, meals, and desserts. Frozen foods offer a fun way to savor your favorites or try something new, allow you to try something new, or let you sample something you don’t know how to make.
Frozen foods are popular kitchen staples for several reasons, including long shelf life, convenience, and abundant options. Educational resources, including recipes, can help you incorporate frozen foods into your diet for a convenient way to ensure you’re getting a balanced diet. You can also learn about how the American Frozen Food Institute is working to safeguard food safety.
See you in the frozen food aisle!