The 10 Most Brilliant Frozen Vegetable Shortcuts to Keep in Your Freezer

published May 12, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: David J Turner/Getty Images

Sure, it’s great to have a bag of frozen kale tucked away in the freezer to help you get a head start on dinner, but a bag of frozen kale mixed with garbanzo beans and whole grains will take you straight over the finish line. In just one prepped bag you’ve got a solid start to an entrée or an entire side dish, without very much in the way of time or effort. 

That’s not a pipe dream, either: There are so many ingenious shortcuts hitting the freezer aisles. Instead of run-of-the-mill broccoli florets and corn niblets, you can now find a wide range of frozen products aimed at helping busy cooks get a healthy dinner on the table. Not only do they minimize prep, but they also keep for ages, so you can rest assured that you’ll always have healthy vegetables within reach.

We sorted through the options and found our top 10 favorite frozen vegetable shortcuts. These aren’t complete meals in a bag, but they’re versatile building blocks you can use to quickly whip up something home-cooked and custom-made. With some of these stowed in your freezer, dinner is minutes away.

Note: We realize that freezer cases aren’t as stocked as usual these days, but if you see any of these on offer, be sure to give them a try!

Credit: Walmart

1. Birds Eye Steamfresh Protein Blends

This lineup of frozen vegetable blends includes 10 grams of plant-based proteins per serving in the form of beans or lentils. They also include whole grains and a light, flavorful sauce. To prepare, steam and serve as a complete side dish. You can also use them as the base for a soup, tuck into pitas with fresh lettuce and tomato, or add vinaigrette and serve as a cold salad. The possibilities are endless, really.

Buy: Birds Eye Steamfresh Protein Blends, $2.50 for 11.5 ounces at Walmart

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Pearl Jones/Kitchn

2. Trader Joe’s Country Potatoes with Haricots Verts and Wild Mushrooms

Wild mushrooms, green beans, and pre-fried potatoes lightly seasoned with paprika, onion, and parsley result in one of the most delicious and customizable options in TJ’s freezer aisle. Throw the contents in a skillet and serve with fried eggs for breakfast or brunch, or serve alongside steak, pork chops, or chicken for dinner. Add some smoked salmon and Dijon vinaigrette to make a hearty hash. You can even add a bag to a soup or stew.

Look for it in stores: Trader Joe’s Country Potatoes with Haricots Verts and Wild Mushrooms, $2.99 for 16 ounces at Trader Joe’s

Credit: Amazon

3. Alexia Foods Cauliflower Risotto with Parmesan Cheese

In this freezer-friendly pouch, cauliflower rice gets a decadent spin, thanks to a generous shower of Parmesan cheese. It’s delicious on its own as a simple side dish, but also acts as the perfect starting point for a more substantial dinner. Add sautéed veggies like asparagus, mushrooms, and greens, or stir in some diced ham or leftover rotisserie chicken.  

Buy: Alexia Foods Cauliflower Risotto with Parmesan Cheese, $3.99 for 12 ounces at Target

Credit: Instacart

4. Cascadian Farm Mirepoix

A simple sauté of carrots, celery, and onion can add layers of depth to just about anything. With this frozen blend, you can skip all that peeling and dicing and get right down to business. Use it as a base for soups, stews, braises, pasta sauce, or even add it to meatloaf

Buy: Cascadian Farm Mirepoix, $2 for 10 ounces

Credit: Instacart

5. C&W Ultimate Stir-Fry Blend

No freezer is complete without a good stir-fry blend. Just add diced protein, mix up a quick stir-fry sauce, and dinner’s done. Birds Eye (which owns the C&W brand) has perhaps the biggest selection of stir-fry blends around, with many different vegetable combos, so you’re sure to find a mix you like. Some even come with sauce packets. This one comes sans sauce packet so you can flavor your stir-fry however you want.

Buy: C&W Ultimate Stir-Fry Blend, $3.49 for 14 ounces

Credit: Instacart

6. Green Giant Marinated Mushrooms

Washing and slicing mushrooms can feel like such a chore. A bag of these in the freezer makes it easy to add mushrooms to whatever you’re cooking, plus they’re already seasoned with garlic, parsley, onion, and white wine. In addition to the usual button mushrooms, this blend includes oyster, porcini, and slippery jack mushrooms for real depth of flavor. There’s no limit to how you can use these. Toss them into breakfast scrambles and quiches, add to lunchtime sandwiches and salads, or stir into dinner soups, stews, pastas, and braises. Bonus idea: Stir them into the Alexia cauliflower risotto for a super-fast and super-flavorful side.

Buy: Green Giant Marinated Mushrooms, $5.49 for 10 ounces

Credit: Trader Joe's

7. Trader Joe’s Mexican Style Roasted Corn with Cotija Cheese

Nothing beats this combination of sweet and smoky roasted corn with tart lime, sour cream, and cotija cheese. As delicious as this is as a side dish on its own, it’s also perfect for upgrading burrito bowls, or tucking into enchiladas and tacos. Simply add some protein like beans, shrimp, or chicken.

More info: Trader Joe’s Mexican Style Roasted Corn with Cotija Cheese, $3.29 for 14 ounces at Trader Joe’s

Credit: Instacart

8. Cascadian Farm Organic Hearty Blend

Packed with whole-grain farro, broccoli florets, carrot slices, and chickpeas, this blend is a jumpstart to just about any dish. Top with a fried egg for breakfast. Drizzle it with vinaigrette for a grain salad. Add broth and turn it into soup or stew, or pour over a jar of simmer sauce for a quick curry.

Buy: Cascadian Farm Organic Hearty Blend with Farro, $3.39 for 12 ounces

Credit: Trader Joe's

9. Trader Joe’s Organic Riced Cauliflower

Having a bag of plain cauliflower rice on hand is like striking gold. It can be used however you typically use rice, but gives you a serving of vegetables at the same time. Trader Joe’s offers one of the best and most affordable around, with fine, uniform pieces that aren’t too cabbage-y tasting, and can easily be transformed into fried rice or pilaf.

More info: Trader Joe’s Organic Riced Cauliflower, $2.49 for 12 ounces at Trader Joe’s

Credit: Instacart

10. Hanover Organics Kale, Spinach & Garbanzo Beans

Not all regions of the country carry this frozen food brand, but count yourself lucky if yours does. This blend of two super-nutritious greens, plus protein-packed beans, is incredibly versatile. Stir it into soups, simmer sauces, or turn it into a version of “The Stew.” Add it to pasta, rice (regular or cauliflower), or give it the creamed spinach treatment with a little garlic and heavy cream. 

Buy: Hanover Foods Kale, Spinach and Garbanzo Beans, $2.89 for 10 ounces

What’s your favorite (interesting!) freezer aisle staple?