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5 smart foods to buy frozen

We’ve noticed the treats creeping up at the office; delicious goodies showing up in social feeds; and candy seems to be on sale — always. With the holidays rolling in, now is the best time to prepare yourself for battle. And the best way to do that is to stock the freezer with things that aren’t just good for you, but are also really easy to prepare. Here’s what to look for.

Cauliflower rice

It might sound counterintuitive, buy many times frozen vegetables are “fresher” than fresh vegetables. This is because frozen veggies are usually flash frozen soon after harvest, whereas fresh vegetables may have to travel a day or two before arriving in stores. You also don’t have to worry about frozen veggies going bad before you have a chance to eat them. Another advantage is all the prep time you can save. Take cauliflower rice, for example. Preparing it from fresh cauliflower can take nearly 30 minutes. From frozen, it takes 5. Frozen stir-fry vegetables and frozen butternut squash will also save you tons of time chopping and peeling.

Berries

Raspberries and blueberries may not be in season, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on all the power antioxidants and fiber these berries have to offer. Plus, pro tip: It’s often cheaper to buy them frozen. Most people associate them with smoothies, but you can use frozen fruit in many baked goods, oatmeal and yogurt parfaits. You can even use the berry juice once they thaw as “syrup” on pancakes or to flavor green tea.

Brown rice

If you’ve ever made brown rice on the stovetop, you know it can take ages to prepare. So take it easy on yourself and load your freezer with frozen brown rice that microwaves in about 5 minutes. This makes it simple to serve a whole-grain side with dinner.

Plant-based meals

This is a growing section of the frozen foods aisles, and one to keep an eye on. There are lots of exciting things happing with frozen plant-based meals. Everything from meatless burgers to vegan frozen dinners. You might notice brands like Fat Rabbit offering vegetarian bowls that are a good source of protein and fiber and include a great variety of different veggies. It’s nice to have a few options like these tucked away in the freezer to help offset some of the heavier holiday meals.

Shrimp & salmon

Keeping seafood like shrimp and salmon fillets in the freezer is always a smart choice. Not only are they good for you, but they also thaw quickly and cook quickly. And if you’re shopping at Hy-Vee, look for the Responsible Choice logo. That will tell you the seafood you’re purchasing was harvested sustainably. Now all you have to do is round out your seafood dinner with your frozen brown rice and frozen veggies. See? The freezer aisle’s not so bad.

Claire Henning, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee

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