Smoothie base mixes
Full of fiber and vitamins, smoothies – whether fruit-based or veggie-based – are usually healthy, and a great way to start your day. However, watch out if you’re buying frozen base mixes. Many of the commercially-prepared versions are loaded with extra sugar, artificial flavorings, and gums. Instead, it’s far better to buy bags of frozen, unsweetened fruit.
Sure, waffle fries are comforting and tasty treat. Unfortunately, the nutritional content in most ready-made waffle fries is frequently lacking.What’s more, these fries tend to be loaded with sodium and unhealthy fats. Why not make your own hash browns instead, using just grated potato, onion, egg and a little flour?
Although you can freeze milk, it doesn’t keep well for long. After around a month, the texture of the milk begins to break down as its two components – fat and water – start to separate. This process, called unhomogenization, makes the thawed liquid look grainy and unappetising although shaking it can sometimes restore the texture.
Some staple foodstuffs really don’t freeze well. One of these is rice. Despite the fact that you can buy bags of frozen rice, the thawed product is often mushy and tastes patently “warmed-over”. Given that rice keeps well when correctly stored in airtight, pest-proof containers, it makes more sense to take this approach rather than opting for the freezer.
It’s safe to freeze sour cream but the thawed product isn’t nearly as tasty and appealing as the fresh version. This is because, as with milk, the freezing and thawing process affects the texture. The result is a very runny product that’s best used in cooked foods like pancakes or for baking.
Ice cream freezes very well indeed – at least for a certain length of time. However, after around two to four months, commercially-prepared ice cream begins to deteriorate. This deterioration will start earlier if moisture gets into the tub as the moisture will then evaporate and form ice crystals.
Like rice, pasta isn’t a food product that’s ideally-suited to freezing. The thawed product tends to be mushy and lack the “bite” of freshly-cooked pasta. Be particularly careful if buying commercially-prepared pasta dishes because these are often loaded with salt, sugar and fat. It’s far better – and almost as quick – to make your own freshly-prepared, veggie-rich pasta dish.
Pancake and sausage on a stick
Of all the unhealthy freezer foods available for sale, pre-prepared pancake and sausage on a stick is pretty high up the unhealthy eating scale. High in unhealthy fats, it’s less a breakfast on a stick and more a heart attack in waiting. Plus, many people will douse their pancake and sausage on a stick with maple syrup, adding even more sugar to an already unhealthily sweet “meal”.
High in refined white carbohydrates and sugar, sweet waffles are never a healthy choice. However, the freshly-made version is marginally less likely to contain unnecessary additives. Moreover, if it’s bought as a single waffle for a one-off treat, it’s not as injurious to your health as working your way through a whole pack of frozen waffles.
Grocery stores with freezer sections devoted to kids’ meals provide strong temptation for busy parents. However, the nutritional content of many of these meals is frequently very far from ideal. Some meals will have more than half of the recommended daily amount of fat for a child. If possible, it’s much better to make and serve fresh food.
Low protein veggie burgers
Many people think of veggie burgers as a freezer staple – and a pretty healthy one at that. However, take care not to opt for a low-protein version. If your burger is higher in fat and carbohydrate than protein, it’ll freeze well but won’t keep you full. Try to seek out veggie burgers with at least ten grams of protein per patty.
If you’re looking for a frozen stir-fry mix, make sure you go for the pre-prepared vegetables. Choosing a version with a sauce may be more convenient but also gives you no control over the amount of salt and sugar it contains. Most commercially prepared stir-fry sauces are high in both, making it much better to opt for a dash of low-sodium teriyaki just before serving.
They may be tasty but pizza bites have no place as part of your regular diet. High in salt and bad carbohydrates, and low in vitamins and protein, they’re nutritionally deficient and not good for your general health. Having a packet of pizza bites in the freezer is unnecessary temptation for most people. Instead, why not prepare a fresh pitta pizza?
As the most important meal of the day, it’s important to get breakfast right. And grabbing a breakfast sandwich from the freezer definitely isn’t getting it right. They’re high in fat and salt, and are pretty much guaranteed to send your blood sugar levels soaring soon after you’ve finished the last bite.
Yet another freezer convenience food, egg rolls are much better eaten fresh and as an occasional treat. A pack in the freezer is an inducement to over-indulgence – and over-indulging in anything with the saturated fat and salt levels of the average egg roll is a poor idea from a health perspective.
Pancakes, sausage patties and scrambled egg
There’s really very little that you can’t buy when it comes to freezer foodstuffs. The classic breakfast combo of pancakes, sausage patties and scrambled eggs is no exception. From a convenience perspective, it’s great. However, from a a health perspective, it’s much less so. Again, it’s better to prepare the meal freshly from scratch as an occasional treat.
Buying ready-prepared meals or prepping your own in advance saves time. However, think hard about quantity. Many ready-prepared meals serve two – which is great if two people need feeding. If, on the other hand, it’s just you who needs a meal, the temptation to eat too much can be hard to resist. Making and freezing single portion meals is sometimes a better choice.
Also known as custard or creme patisserie, custard fillings are not suitable for freezing. Although custard itself freezes well, custard fillings split when frozen. Then, when you thaw them, you’ll end up with a watery substance that won’t quite return to its pre-frozen state no matter how much you stir, mix or agitate it. As a result, it’s always best to make fresh custard filling.
Much like custard fillings, milk sauces aren’t best suited to the freezer. If you really want to, however, try freezing homemade sauces. The lack of additives generally means that they’ll survive freezing better than store-bought alternatives, where you may notice an altered texture and reduced taste once the product is thawed.
One washed and cut up, you can freeze cabbage – but only if there’s no alternative. Unblanched cabbage will keep in the deep freeze for only around one or two months. However, blanching it (which means briefly scalding it with boiling water before plunging into into iced water) will extend its freezable life to around nine months.
The very high water content (around 95%) in cucumbers makes freezing them especially tricky. Always avoid freezing whole cucumbers as, once defrosted, the damage to their cell walls will mean that they remain water-logged and soggy, and fairly tasteless too. However, sliced cucumber tends to tolerate the freezing process better.
Frozen cooked macaroni is never as good as the freshly-made stuff. This is even more true when it relates to macaroni that’s already covered with any kind of sauce. Whether it’s doused with cheese or tomato sauce, macaroni that’s frozen and then defrosted loses much of its appealing texture. Sauceless macaroni copes better with the freezing and thawing process.
Many fish freeze well. However, fish with a high oil content like bluefish cannot tolerate the freezing process. The oiliness makes the flesh change texture and become very mushy once thawed. This, when combined with the natural very “fishy” flavor of the blue fish, makes them very unappealing to many. If you’re not eating your bluefish fresh, trying pressure canning or smoking to preserve them.
Cooked egg whites
Raw egg white freezes well. Cooked egg whites, however, are a different matter. Once defrosted, they’ll have a highly unappealing rubbery texture that isn’t at all appetising. This holds true whether you’re freezing just the (cooked) white or you’re freezing whole hard boiled eggs. In a(n egg)shell: don’t do it.
Soups with a cream or milk base don’t take kindly to freezing. Once thawed, they usually develop a grainy texture that’s so off-putting it often leads to the soup being disposed of before eating. If you want to freeze these soups, try doing so before adding in the dairy. You can then add it while your thawed soup is reheating on the stove.
Mayonnaise is an emulsion, which means it’s a combination of two ingredients (oil and water) that don’t naturally mix together. If you try freezing it, you’ll find that it has a very different texture after it’s defrosted. This is because the emulsion will break, leaving the oil and water floating on top of the egg emulsifier.
Even if you squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag, freezing fresh parsley will affect the flavor and color of the thawed version. Blanching – scalding with boiling water and then immersing in icy cold water – does a better job of preserving the herb’s attractive color and distinctive flavor. However, fresh parsley is usually preferred.
Whether you’ve made it from the powdered form or the leaf version, you can’t freeze gelatin. In most cases, it won’t even set no matter how cold your freezer. Instead, it will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. Alternatively, only make up what you need as powdered and leaf gelatin both keep for long periods.
The gelatin in fruit jellies or jell-o means that these tasty treats won’t freeze. Although the liquid in the product will harden, the gelatin itself will stay pliable and flexible. The result – once removed from the freezer – is an unappealing item with a very peculiar texture. Unfortunately, thawing won’t change things either.
Seeing fried foods in the frozen aisles of the grocery store might encourage you to freeze your own home-fried food. Unfortunately, tempting as it is, this isn’t a great idea. The high oil content of most home fried foods will make the defrosted item very soggy – and surface oil might also seep through the food, altering its flavor.
If you freeze celery, expect it to lose much of its crispness and distinctive flavor. However, if you don’t mind this, it will keep for around two months if you don’t blanch it first. Blanching extends its freezing period to around 12-18 months and should also help preserve the flavor – although not its crunchiness.
As another vegetable with a high water content, endive isn’t ideally suited for freezing. After thawing, expect it to have taken on a limp, water-logged look. Its color will also have altered and, crucially, its aroma and taste. Blanching before freezing gives better results in terms of flavor and color but won’t preserve the original texture.
Like endives, cucumbers and similar vegetables, the high water content of radishes makes them tricky to freeze. If you don’t blanch them first, your thawed radishes won’t have the same vibrant color of their fresh counterparts and will also lack much of the characteristic taste. Halving or slicing them and then blanching before freezing produces much better results.
The high water content of strawberries makes them unsatisfactory as candidates for your freezer. That’s not to say you can’t do it – but defrosted strawberries are best reserved for smoothies or pie-filling rather than for serving up with a dollop of cream or on the side of freshly-baked scones.
It’s pretty common to freeze onions. The convenience factor is high and the the finished product doesn’t take up much freezer space. However, although freezing onions in an airtight container seals in their flavor and products other items from becoming onion-y, defrosting is a problem. Thawed onions have a mushy, almost slimy consistency, which many people find unpleasant.
Chicken dippers are a freezer staple for many households. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make them into a nutritious meal. Frequently too high in fat, salt and refined white flour, they help contribute to the obesity epidemic and increase the risk of other long-term health problems. Homemade dippers aren’t as convenient but they’re tastier and usually much healthier.
No kitchen is complete without black peppercorns. Essential to help build flavor in a wide variety of dishes, it’s important to store your peppercorns correctly to maximize their taste potential. This means not freezing them. Instead, keep them in an airtight container and ensure that container is stored in a cool, dry place.
It’s tempting to prepare garlic in bulk and freeze the results (or to buy commercially-prepared minced garlic). However, beware! Although garlic can retain its flavor when frozen, it can also become bitter and unpleasantly pungent. Another potential disadvantage is the chance that the smell of your frozen garlic will permeate other items in your freezer.
Although it’s possible to freeze small quantities of certain spices, it’s not recommended for curry powder. That’s because curry powder is a blend of several different spices and, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, they can become musty-tasting if frozen. Instead of freezing, keep your spices in a cool, dry, dark place.
It’s not a good idea to freeze salt. Frozen salt quickly loses flavor and will also make anything containing fat unpleasantly rancid. Moreover, freezing salt simply isn’t necessary. It’s a natural preservative of other foodstuffs – and an unopened packet of table salt can be stored for as long as is needed.