The Nutritional Value of Frozen Food

I can’t cook. There-- I admitted it. My husband can, but he’s a busy guy and is often unavailable or too tired to concoct a meal. As a result, for years, we’ve been eating a lot of take-out, slap-it-together foods like spaghetti or various pre-packaged meals. (Add to that the fact that there’s just two of us and cooking a big meal or buying fresh ingredients means a lot of waste.)

Well, last week when I was at the store, I picked up one of those frozen meal-in-a-bags. It was delcious! It had vegetables in it! I felt mighty proud of myself for providing a balanced, tasty meal.

But then my grandma spoke up in the back of my head. See, my grandmother is . . . well,* old fashioned*, and she deeply distrusts processed foods (almost to the point of disdaining anything she hasn’t organically grown herself.) “When you freeze somethin’, it destroys all of the vitamins!” Mental-Grandma recited. Fuzzy-Memory spoke up and reminded me that somewhere I had read some sort of article which claimed the same thing.

So, What’s the Dope? When I eat frozen broccoli and carrots, am I getting vitamins or is the nutritional value depleted by the freezing process? I imagine food processing techniques have greatly improved over the years, and I’m wondering if flash-freezing (a word proved by Fuzzy-Memory) doesn’t leech out vitamins the way older processes (maybe) did.

Frozen vegetables are still nutritious. I can’t say that absolutely everything is the same, because humanity probably doesn’t have a handle on what happens to every single substance in every single food… but frozen veggies are healthy and, if you treat them right, tasty. Munch on.

Did you want a cite?

Fragile molecules such as vitamins are usually preserved by freezing. Low temperatures act to reduce the chemical reactivity of these substances, and ice forms a barrier to the diffusion of reactive oxygen.

Nutritional Value of Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

How nutritious are commercially-frozen vegetables compared to fresh vegetables?

The nutrients in chemical preserved vegetables are often highly compromised, but “fresh frozen” veggies should be relatively intact, particularly if (as typically with frozen vegetables) your intent is to cook them before eating, as most cooking processes (with the exception of light steaming) will typically break down or leach away a lot of non-mineral nutrients anyway. In any case, you’re better eating vegetable in virtually any state of preservation over most prepared frozen meals, and certainly over fried fast food which typcially has a lot of vacuous calories.

I’m going to challenge you on the “I can’t cook” claim, though. If you say, “I don’t care to cook,” or “Cooking really bores me to tears,” or “I pretend that I can’t learn to cook so that my husband will cook his famous lasagna,” I can by that, but any marginally functional adult can, and IMHO should, learn to cook. I’ve been advising a couple of the young bachelor lads around here how to impress the ladies by making meals from scractch that are easy to prepare but look and taste delicious. (I find a fresh cooked meal to be a better aphrodisiac than money or roses; unfortunately, you can’t really invite a girl over to your house for a first date, so :confused: ).

I’ve actually been thnking of holding an informal class to teach some basic recipes and skills to build upon, 'cause in my mind there’s nothing more useless than a guy who has to get married because Mommie isn’t around to cook and and wash clothes for him anymore. (Second most useless is a woman who can’t do at least some very basic home maintenance stuff, like tighten a hinge screw or remove a broken light bulb from the socket.) Unfortunately, I’ve found a real lack of very, very basic cookbooks that start with fundamental skills and build rather than just start telling your to brown things or make a roux without describing how to do this in simple detail. I’m sure the Cooking for Dummies or The Complete Total Fucking Moron’s Guide To Boiling Water type of books probably cover this, but I refuse to buy or recommend those on principle.


The second quote Squink gives is followed on that page by this:

If that book doesn’t already exist, it needs to. I’m mentally adding it to the Christmas lists of several people I know already …

You’re entirely right. “I can’t cook” is actually my way of saying “I don’t like to cook and when I do, I don’t do it well.”

The problem lies in the fact that we’ve got very bad eating habits and frankly, little motivation to change them. Some households do really well planning or even partially preparing meals far in advance, but it just doesn’t work for ours. The head of broccoli I bought will likely go bad before we use it because we decided to have pizza and other things rather than the meal we planned.

Neither of us like leftovers in general (though there are a few exeptions.) Recipes and meals which are designed for a family always have too much leftover food. Yeah, I can work out how to halve the recipe, but it will still call for buying fresh ingredients which might not all be consumed in making it and which will almost certainly go to waste.

A yummy, nutritious meal-in-a-bag is ideal because it’s simple to make and the portion is just right for two. Now that I know vitamins are not seriously decreased by the freezing process, I can feel a little better about eating them.