Even though Spring is here and the weather is warming up, it’s not exactly garden season yet but that doesn’t mean your freezer can’t be filled with nutritious options! The entire month of March is National Frozen Food Month which means grocery stores and online retailers are offering tons of discounts on your favorite foods. This is the perfect opportunity to try out some new meals, break out the cookbooks, and plan some delicious meals for months to come. Here are the best ways to stock up on delicious frozen essentials and use your freezer to the fullest. 

What is National Frozen Food Month?

Started by the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA), Frozen Food Month is marked by plenty of in-store events, coupons, giveaways, and discounts. Every March, you can expect to see flyers in the mail and sale stickers through the freezer section of your favorite stores. Big-name brands participate in the event, but smaller companies get in on the action too since it’s a great time to try out a new product. It’s also when social media influencers, chefs, and food companies put out lists of amazing recipes you can make using your freezer favorites. 

Benefits of Frozen Food

Frozen foods can sometimes get a bad rap, but there are actually plenty of healthy and delicious picks that you can find in the freezer aisle. In fact, some of the best items you can buy this month are fruits and vegetables. Unlike their fresh counterparts, which can lose nutritional value the longer they sit out on the shelves (especially during the off-seasons), frozen foods lock-in essential nutrients. They’re harvested at the peak of ripeness, cleaned, cut, and quickly frozen to offer the best selection. 

Another added benefit is the fact that most frozen foods can last for up to six months in the freezer and are easy to portion so you can reduce waste and save money at the same time. Did you know that the average American family ends up throwing out 25% of the groceries they buy? For a family of four, that can add up to about $1,350 to $2,275 worth of food wasted every single year! From preserving nutrients and vitamins to helping out your wallet and the planet, there are plenty of reasons to stock up on frozen foods. 

Easy Weeknight Dinners

Whether you’re a parent, athlete, or you have a demanding job, it can feel like there’s rarely time in the day to prepare a healthy, balanced meal. Making sure you get the daily recommended amount of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and fats can be a challenge. At the end of a long day, plenty of people don’t want to clean, cut, peel, prep, and cook an entire meal from scratch. Frozen foods offer a speedy mealtime alternative. You can pop a readymade dinner in the oven, or minimize the work by cooking some dishes from scratch and adding in a few frozen sides, like mixed vegetables. 

What to Buy

We aren’t nutritionists, and you don’t have to be either when it comes to making the most of Frozen Food Month. You want to aim for foods that are high in nutritional value and quality while avoiding junk foods that might set you off your fitness goals or preexisting medical conditions. Obviously, fruits and vegetables are going to be high on your priority list, given their long freezer shelf life and how easy it is to add them to any meal. Just be sure to check the label and steer clear from any fruits that have added sugars. The same goes for veggies. Carrots, peas, and green beans are all superfoods, but when they come packaged in breading, sauces, or cheese, all bets are off. 

Another staple to stock up on is whole-grain waffles! Skipping breakfast can actually lead to weight gain, slower metabolism, and cardiovascular problems so a ready-to-go waffle is an easy solution. They’re easy to prepare, come in tons of delicious flavors (and gluten-free options), plus you can add nut butters, chia seeds, and fruits to balance out some of your nutritional needs. 

What to Avoid 

When you’re pushing your cart down the frozen food aisle, you’ll likely pass dozens of different types of frozen pizzas, but not all frozen foods are created equal. Meals that are high in sugars, saturated fats, and sodium are everywhere, even if they’re labeled as “natural” or “organic.” The worst offenders are the ones marketed as “hearty,” since they tend to have far less nutritional value and contain multiple portions in one package, so you would have to multiply the serving size if you ate the whole thing. The best strategy for smart shopping is to check the label and ensure that there are as few ingredients as possible. Typically, more than seven ingredients means you’ll be eating fewer whole foods and consuming more additives and preservatives that diminish the meal’s overall quality. 

Shopping for Your Body 

In the past, the frozen foods aisle had limited options for people with food allergies or restrictions. Luckily, companies have listened and today there’s an abundance of frozen foods for all kinds of eaters. Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-intolerant, there are plenty of tasty, balanced meals and dishes available. Additionally, at ViGOR FiTNESS we believe that intuitive eating is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, so you shouldn’t completely deprive yourself of your favorite foods. Go ahead and get the frozen pizza but add a side salad to your dinner! Buy the mac and cheese, but have it as a side dish and share it with your partner! Shopping with moderation in mind will ensure that your tastebuds will be satisfied but you won’t feel the need to binge. 

If you’re looking for a great way to save money, reduce waste, and have healthy meals on hand with no prep time involved, then frozen foods are the way to go! To get recipes, workout ideas, and exercise tips to help you along your fitness journey, join our online community and follow us on social media!