Consumer Reports: Healthy frozen foods

Who hasn't gone digging through to the bottom of their freezer trying to find something that will help put a quick dinner on the table?

Will you find something fast? Probably! But healthy? Not necessarily.

So the food experts at Consumer Reports helped us stock up on healthy frozen foods that are actually worth the freezer space.

It's important to Marah Ramirez that her family eats fruits and vegetables at every meal, every day. At lunch and dinner, she wants half of their plates to be produce. And she often relies on frozen products.

"We always have frozen on hand. Because you know if we can't make it to the supermarket at least we know that we have options in our refrigerator," said Marah Ramirez.

Frozen foods can be a lifesaver when you don't have the time or ingredients to make a meal from scratch. But not all frozen foods are ones you want to rely on, so you do have to be careful what you choose.

Consumer Reports says the healthiest frozen foods are the single-ingredient ones.

"Look for high-quality whole-foods you can use as ingredients to make quick, healthy meals," said Consumer Reports nutritionist Amy Keating.

For easy breakfasts on the go - keep bags of pineapple, berries, bananas, and other fruit in the freezer. Use them in smoothies, yogurt parfaits, even in baked goods. Choose products that are free of added sugars.

Frozen veggies are also a great way to get the produce you love, no matter what the season.

"Frozen fruits and vegetables are as nutritious as fresh," Keating said. "With vegetables, control your sodium by buying them plain and seasoning them yourself."

Frozen bags of cooked whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and beans are making it easier than ever to eat more of this healthy food group. And since these are foods that usually take a long time to cook, using frozen can be a real time-saver! Just watch the sodium.

And buying frozen foods is also a money saver!

"People throw out way too much produce," Keating said. "So one big benefit of frozen is you can just take out what you need and put the rest back. It's far less wasteful."

So, let your freezer help you "chill" and enjoy family time.

Frozen fruit and veggies will be perfectly fine in a cold freezer for up to a year. To keep the air out, keep them in an airtight plastic bag. Consumer Reports says the ideal freezer temperature is zero degrees Fahrenheit.

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