It’s a huge debate among the health industry right now: do I buy fresh or do I buy frozen? Which is better for me? Will I be judged in the office kitchen for buying a frozen meal for my on-the-go schedule? Or even, will I be judged and labelled a ‘health freak’ for growing my own food if I feel like it?
The bottom line
First and foremost, nothing is more easily absorbed, nourishing or better for the environment than fresh, local and seasonal produce. We live in a world that’s busier than ever and the perception that eating healthy is hard is at an all time high, but it’s just not true. When processed packets (and not to mention supplements) are so easy to get your hands on, it’s understandable why so many people are opting for these as an easier way to nourish. But with so many frozen meals and quick fixes on the market, are we making the right choices?
Calories aren’t everything
But they’re smartly marketed and often used as a hook, line and sinker style selling point (the lower, the more attractive to the ‘health conscious’ consumer). If you’re calorie concious, pre-made meals are an attractive option because the numbers are right there in black and white. This is by no means the ‘wrong’ way to shop, but calories aren’t the be all and end all of a healthy diet and if you’re not getting enough in at meal times, you’re more likely to reach into the biscuit tin at 3pm. It’s important to know that not all calories are created equally either, yet generally speaking we view them as all the same. Many of our foods on MNB are very nutrient dense, which means that yes they’re high in calories (which also means energy) but there also very nutrient dense and each of our bodies burn that nutrient dense energy differently. We generally use the highest quality ingredients and sweeteners that still contain many of the natural enzymes and minerals that assist the body utilising carbohydrates for energy.
It’s not hard to be healthy (we’re not demanding you drop the donuts and start learning to love kale chips) and we’re not born knowing how to shop for healthy food either – but when you’re armed with the right info, you can make the best choices for you. Let’s take a look at how they compare…
To be a savvy consumer with a healthy diet you must take into consideration that fresh fruits and vegetables are not going to be available year round. Fresh fruits and vegetables are much more expensive out of season, and they never taste as ripe and juicy either. The great thing is we’re lucky to have the options of considering having both fresh and frozen produce and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables year round.
- encourages you to eat seasonally
- supports local farmers
- huge variety of foods to add to your plate
- ready to be cooked and prepared
- can be eaten raw or cooked
- little to no waste such as plastics and packaging
- storage can affect nutrient content
- perishable and can go off quickly
- not always available year round
Frozen foods get a bad rap. Their packaged nature often goes hand in hand with junk food – but we’re not talking about frozen pizzas and pies. Did you know that many frozen vegetables and fruit are actually full of nutrition, just as much than their fresh friends sitting in the fridge? It’s because many vegetables are picked when they’re at optimum freshness, flavour and ripeness. The nutrition is then snap frozen and ready for when you are (nature’s pause button if you will).
- the same (if not more) nutrition content than many fresh foods
- easy storage in the freezer
- readily available
- already prepared
- all year round availability
- smaller range of vegetables available that can be frozen
- many are imported from overseas countries out of season
What’s ok to buy frozen:
Like anything in the supermarket, it needs to be picked up and chosen carefully. But generally speaking foods such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, mango, pineapple, broccoli, green beans, corn, carrots, spinach, kale, mushrooms, capsicum, pumpkin, cauliflower, green peas and mixed vegetables are suitable to buy frozen. The ingredients should read the vegetables only with no added preservatives or flavours.
Packaged Frozen Foods
This is pretty much anything in the freezer section at your supermarket. It includes frozen meals, pizzas, pies, chicken nuggets, potato gems, frozen pastas and lasagnes, frozen burgers, dumplings, the choices are endless.
- easy storage
- can have an attractive taste
- can be a balance of macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats
- risk of plastic and xenoestrogens leaching into food when re-heated**
- eating this way creates no understanding where our food comes from
- taking us away from the enjoyment of preparing our own meals
- serving sizes are unrealistically small
- waste and rubbish can create additional pollution to the environment
- many plastics have been found to make their way to the oceans and effect our marine life
**xenoestrogens are a type of hormone that imitates oestrogen. They are significant because they can disrupt the endocrine system and have been implicated in reproductive disorders.