Frozen foods get a bit of a bad name. If you’re my age – the Findus Crispy Pancake generation – you’d be forgiven for associating frozen foods with that cheap and cheerful kind of tea – fish fingers, chicken nuggets, that sort of thing.
Frozen foods have come a long way though since the ‘minced beef’ pancake of the 1980s and there are a lot of benefits to choosing frozen foods. Keeping a well stocked freezer saves you money, time and waste, and there are actually nutritional benefits too. You might not have thought about it, but the fact that food is frozen means they don’t need added preservatives, and so there are often fewer extra ingredients.
Take frozen mashed potato for instance. (Who knew that was a thing?) I picked a variety and looked at the ingredients – potato, butter, milk, salt and pepper. That’s it. Just like you would make at home.
Cool Cookery is on a mission to get people more excited about using frozen foods, so to inspire you, here are nine foods that a lot of people don’t even realise you can buy frozen and some tips on how to use them:
Frozen mashed potatoes
Yep, actual frozen mashed potatoes. Use them with sausages and baked beans for a classic family tea, or how about topping a shepherd’s pie? Frozen Quorn mince makes a very tasty vegetarian shepherd’s pie and is a good alternative if you’re keen to reduce the amount of meat in your diet.
Frozen grilled aubergine slices
I hardly ever buy aubergine because if I am totally honest, I find it a little bit scary and am not sure what to do with it. You can use frozen grilled aubergines straight in your recipe from frozen, so they’d be perfect for something like this aubergine, tomato and parmesan bake – you could skip the aubergine frying step completely and add the frozen aubergine straight to the dish.
Frozen dark cherries
I absolutely love cherries, but they are so expensive and not always readily available. I tried frozen cherries for the first time lately and they were absolutely delicious. I used them in a baked oat breakfast recipe, (which will be on the Cool Cookery website soon), and they worked brilliantly. They’d be great in breakfast smoothies too.
Frozen herbs are a great example of how using frozen foods can reduce food waste. Whenever I cook with fresh herbs, I end up using a handful of something and leaving the rest in the fridge to go bad. With frozen herbs, you just use exactly what you need and keep the rest for next time. You don’t loose any of the flavour either. Try a lunch of herby risotto and don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of herb.
Ginger is a very versatile ingredient and has myriad amazing health properties too, so adding a bit of ginger to a breakfast smoothie, soup or sauce is always going to be a good thing. It’s great for reducing nausea and may help to lower cholesterol, reduce muscle pain and protect against things like Alzheimer’s and heart disease. How about a lunch of pacific cod with lime, chilli and ginger? Chilli and fish are both readily available frozen, so this could make a great freezer standby.
Frozen edamame beans
These are so simple to eat, and make a very yummy snack. (Although the first time I had edamame beans I did eat the cases too. Not so nice.) They are low in calories, contains no cholesterol and are a great source of protein, iron, and calcium. Serve them in a tiny dish, covered in sea salt, sit in a bar stool and get a family member to slide them along in front of you, like they’re on a conveyor belt. Tada! You’re in Yo Sushi!
Frozen sweet potato fries
No freezer is complete without some frozen chips, but how about switching things up a bit and swapping your regular chips for sweet potato fries? Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes count as one of your five a day, and there’s a whole load of other good stuff in them too. One large sweet potato for example contains more than 70% of our recommended intake of vitamin C. Take that scurvy.
Mussels are another one of those things that I don’t normally buy, but buying them frozen makes them much easier to use as you can just chuck handfuls of them into things like this Mediterranean-style fish stew. I love the flavour of mussels and randomly, they are something that both Bee and Belle liked to eat as babies!
Frozen whole cooked lobster
I wouldn’t have a clue to do with a fresh lobster, but this is pretty impressive isn’t it?
Do you have any favourite frozen foods? What tips do you have for using frozen food?