How to Ready Your Freezer for the Total Body Diet

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

When you design your kitchen to meet your Total Body Diet lifestyle, don’t forget the freezer (even if it’s not in the kitchen). These days there’s not much that can’t be frozen — the only foods that you should not freeze are canned foods or eggs in shells.

Walk down the frozen food aisles in your grocery store and you’ll see a bounty of choices in every food group — from vegetables and fruits to meat, beans, and nuts to dairy products to whole grains.

There are many good reasons to stock your freezer. According to the Frozen Food Association, here are four handy facts about frozen foods:

  • Frozen foods are nutritious. Frozen fruits and vegetables are flash-frozen at the highest point of nutritional value and have been found to have equal, if not more, nutrients.

    Recent research from the University of California–Davis and the University of Georgia compared the nutrient content of eight commonly purchased frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables: blueberries, strawberries, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, green peas, and spinach. The University of Georgia study found that vitamins A and C and folate were greater in several frozen varieties than their fresh-stored counterparts.

    The University of California–Davis study found that the frozen produce preserved vitamins C and B2 better than the fresh-stored vegetables. Also, freezing the fruits and vegetables correlated to higher vitamin E levels and minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, and iron, as well as fiber and phytochemicals (health-promoting compounds in plants).

  • Frozen foods are easy to prepare. The best thing about frozen foods is that they come washed, precut, and ready to eat or cook. They save time and reduce waste. Plus, many are portable, convenient, simple to cook, and easy to clean up, all of which bodes well for time-pressed families.

  • Frozen foods are a real value. Not only do frozen foods stretch your food dollars, but they deliver on quality and taste, offering real consumer value. Plus, frozen foods have a much greater shelf life than refrigerated foods, allowing easier portioning and storing to use at a later date.

  • Frozen foods are the sensible choice. From a calorie-control standpoint, frozen foods offer many pre-portioned options, as well as resealable packaging to take out a portion and save the rest. Plus, they take the guesswork out by providing nutrition facts on the label.

The table offers healthy food options to stock in your freezer (at 0 degrees or below).

Healthy Freezer Foods
Whole Grains Fruits Vegetables Proteins Dairy Products/Dairy Alternatives
Whole-wheat flour
Whole-wheat breads
Whole-grain tortillas
Brown rice, precooked
Wild rice, precooked
Bananas
Blackberries
Blueberries
Cantaloupe
Cherries
Grapes
Honeydew
Mango, sliced
Raspberries
Strawberries
Watermelon
Pureed fruit pops
Fruit sorbet
Artichoke hearts
Asparagus
Beets
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chili
Cucumber
Eggplant
Green beans
Hearts of palm
Jicama slices
Kale
Kohlrabi
Leeks
Mustard greens
Okra
Onions
Pea pods
Peppers (all varieties)
Radishes
Salsa
Scallions
Summer squash
Sweet potatoes (fries)
Tomato sauce
Turnips
Water chestnuts
Zucchini
Nuts
Bison
Chicken breast
Chicken sausage
Turkey breast
Lean (95%–97%) ground sirloin
Beef (loin and round cuts)
Lean roast beef
Ham (lowfat, low sodium)
Pork loin
Kefir
Fat-free or lowfat regular or Greek yogurt
Ice milk
Lowfat ice cream

Frozen, prepared meals are convenient and portion controlled, but be sure to check the Nutrition Facts label and ingredients for sodium, added sources of sugar, saturated fat, and trans fat.