Frozen foods are staples in many households. Freezing foods can ensure there's always something to eat at home, and freezing leftovers can help prevent waste created when such foods spoil before they can be eaten.
Wasted food is a pressing issue across North America. A 2014 report from Value Chain Management International Inc. indicated that $31 billion worth of food is wasted every year in Canada, and roughly 47 percent of wasted food comes from private homes. Americans throw away approximately $165 billion worth of food each year, which translates to as much as $2,200 per household, according to a recent study from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Freezing foods can cut back on that waste and make people feel better about their eating habits at home, especially when they push past the myths and get to the facts about frozen foods.
MYTH: Frozen food is less nutritious.
FACT: Frozen foods can be even more nutritious than some fresh items available at the grocery store. That's because out-of-season produce is sometimes picked before it has ripened and then stored while shipped long distances. Nutritional content may be depleted even before the food reaches the dinner table. Frozen foods are picked at the height of ripeness and then flash frozen. Such foods will only lose some of their nutritional value during storage.
MYTH: Frozen foods are more expensive.
FACT: Very often frozen foods can be less expensive than fresh foods. That's especially true when purchasing whole foods rather than prepackaged convenience foods, such as whole meals.
MYTH: Frozen foods contain preservatives or are highly processed.
FACT: There are plenty of healthy choices in the grocery store freezer that are not highly processed. Look at the ingredient list to confirm what is in a product before buying it. The freezing process often removes the need to rely on preservatives, and freezing keeps food from developing bacteria or other microbes that make people sick. These microbes cannot grow on foods stored at temperatures less than 0 F.
MYTH: All foods can be frozen.
FACT: Many foods freeze under the right conditions, but there are some that should never be frozen. In certain foods, the structure may break down or taste can be affected. Delicate vegetables like lettuce will disintegrate when thawed. Creams can curdle or separate when thawed. Foods should not be frozen in cans or eggs in eggshells. Avoid freezing foods with a high water content, as they will end up a soggy mess as they defrost.
MYTH: Frozen foods last forever.
FACT: Many foods can stay fresh for months, but they can begin to lose quality and taste if they are left frozen for too long. Prepared leftovers can be stored for two to three months on average. Raw meat may last anywhere from four to 12 months. Label frozen foods to remember the "use by" date. Freezing food and relying on healthy frozen alternatives at the supermarket can be reliable and cost-effective. It also helps cut down on food waste from spoilage.