The 9 Best Vegetables to Keep in the Freezer, According to a Dozen Nutritionists
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that many of you have been relying on frozen vegetables more these last few months than ever before? I actually hope so! Because these packages are not only super-convenient, they’re also budget-friendly shortcuts and a great way to boost a meal. (Fact: Frozen vegetables are just as nutrient-rich as fresh vegetables. Take it from me — a registered dietitian!)
For anyone who hasn’t gotten on board with frozen veggies — or anyone just looking to branch out with more options — I reached out to more than a dozen other registered dietitians to find out which veggies they keep in their freezers at all times. Here were the top nine recommendations that came up again and again.
If you’re curious, my personal favorite frozen veggie is frozen broccoli. (See #7!) I like to defrost it before blending it into a pesto with lemon, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and walnuts. I then pair this nutrient-packed sauce with pasta, chicken, fish, or roasted veggies for an extra dose of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, potassium, and fiber.
“I always have frozen shelled edamame on hand because it’s an easy way to add a complete protein to quick weeknight meals. (One cup of cooked edamame provides about 17 grams of protein.) I often throw edamame into stir-fries, use it as a topping for salads or grain bowls, or mash some into homemade guacamole,” says Lisa Mikus, RD, CNSC, CDN and author of Everyday Diabetes Cooking for One or Two.
Molly Cleary, MS, RD, CDCES always has frozen spinach on hand to add to pasta dishes, enchiladas, and smoothies. Here’s a tip, though: If you have fresh spinach leaves that are nearing the end of their prime, Nicole Groman, MS, RDN, CDN of @thehungryclementine recommends simply transferring them to freezer to extend their life. (This is also an excellent way to reduce waste.)
“Frozen asparagus is great for no-fuss sheet pan dinners. I throw it in the oven to roast along with salmon for a delicious, minimal prep, weeknight meal,” says Suzanne Horan, MS, RD, a registered dietitian at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
Rebecca Ditkoff, MPH, RD, CDN agrees (and swears by the Trader Joe’s version). “I love the frozen grilled asparagus from Trader Joe’s. I usually pair it with a side of starch and protein. I also like to break it into pieces and throw it in a simple pasta dish with olive oil and Parmesan cheese,” she says.
4. Butternut Squash
“Butternut squash is full of Vitamin A, a good source of fiber, and keeps you hydrated during these hot summer months, which is why I always keep my bag in the freezer,” says Kim Rose, RDN, CDCES, CNSC, LDN. “As a tasty replacement for mashed potatoes, I like to quickly whip butternut squash with unsalted butter or margarine.”
Read More: How to Roast Frozen Butternut Squash
“As a registered dietitian and yoga teacher, I consider both the nutritional value and Ayurvedic properties of the food my family eats. When you open our freezer, you will always frozen kale because it’s a great source of Vitamin A and an Ayurvedic bitter that balances out berry smoothies,” says Laura Cipullo, RD, CDCES, CEDRD, the founder of Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition and Yoga in New York City.
6. Zucchini Noodles
Casey Seiden, MS, RD, CDCES loves using frozen zucchini noodles to make homemade fritters. “Defrost the zoodles and drain the excess water. Add them to a mixing bowl, along with defrosted frozen corn kernels, 1 egg, and 1/3 cup almond flour. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Form four small patties with the batter and cook them until browned in an oiled skillet,” Seiden explains.
“Frozen broccoli has made huge strides over the past decade, with bigger florets and better flash-freezing technology,” says Morgan Bookeimer, MS, RD, SHRM-CP, a corporate wellness dietitian in New York. “I love it tossed with olive oil, roasted, and drizzled with lemon juice or steamed and tossed with butter and salt.”
Read More: 7 Smart and Easy Ways to Eat Frozen Broccoli
9. Mixed Vegetables
“A big bag of frozen mixed vegetables with peas, corn, carrots, and greens is a freezer staple,” says Sandra Aravelo, MPH, RDN, CDE, FADA. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson likes to add them to rice, mac and cheese, and soups.
Which of these veggies do you always keep in your freezer? Do you have any to add to the list?