Freezer Week

10 Ingredients That You Should Always Buy Frozen Instead of Fresh

updated Aug 17, 2020
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If you didn’t notice, last week Kitchn went pretty big on frozen food. We talked about all the best frozen groceries at our favorite stores like Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and Costco; the frozen go-tos of professional chefs and registered dietitians; and even declared 2020 The Year of the Freezer. As it turns out, Freezer Week barely scratched the surface as far as frozen groceries are concerned, so we’re sticking with the theme a little longer!

One thing that came out of all these freezer-themed meetings was just how many ingredients are actually better when purchased from the frozen section. Even when the fresh counterparts are available, these are the groceries that the Kitchn team would rather buy frozen.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Shrimp

“For the most part I only buy frozen shrimp. Fresh shrimp is so great if you live in a coastal city and have a great fish market, but most of what is sold ‘fresh’ at the grocery store was previously frozen anyway, so I’d just rather buy it frozen and thaw it myself when I’m ready to use it. I usually buy medium or 17/21; they’re just a really good size for most things we cook at home. I prefer shell-on, even though they’re a little more legwork to peel. I feel like the shell protects them during freezing and thawing (this is not based in any fact).” Meghan Splawn, Food Editor

Credit: Courtesy of B & G Foods, Inc.

2. Broccoli Florets

“I like to buy broccoli frozen because it ensures I always have a vegetable on hand, even if I haven’t been to the grocery store in awhile. It becomes a base of quick lunches (roast with salt and pepper and serve with an egg or two), or rounds out a meal when served as a side without having to put a lot of thought into it!” Kaitlin Garske, Senior Social Media Manager

Credit: Patty Catalano

3. Fish

“Despite what you might think, a lot of frozen fish is actually more sustainable and fresher than its fresh counterparts — so I almost always buy my fish fillets from the frozen section. I like barramundi especially because it’s sustainable and super mild.” — Jesse Szewczyk, Studio Food Editor

“I also buy most of my fish frozen unless I’m eating it immediately. As I’ve learned from Naomi Tomky, freezing fish fast stops it from deteriorating (which happens quickly!)”— Ariel Knutson, Features Director

4. Artichokes

“Frozen artichokes are perfect. They’re as easy to enjoy as canned and jarred, but taste a whole lot closer to fresh. The texture is firm yet tender and the flavor is clean and not muddled by the tin of a can or the oil in a jar.” Sheela Prakash, Senior Contributing Editor

Read more: The One Frozen Vegetable Your Freezer Is Missing

Credit: Heather McClees

5. Berries

“I make a berry smoothie every morning, and the thought of buying fresh ones and washing and storing them is just too much work for a busy new mom like me. The frozen berries are more convenient and often less expensive, and I find their flavor is not affected by the freezing process.” Lauren Kodiak, Managing Editor

Credit: Instacart

6. Okra

“Lady Fingers, aka okra, is a common veggie used in Indian dishes. I usually buy it frozen because it has such a short shelf life.” Sholeen Damarwala, Commerce Editor

Credit: Lauren Masur

7. Paratha

“I like to buy frozen paratha because it’s better than any paratha I can make. Pull it from the freezer and it cooks up in a pan in just two minutes!”— Amelia Rampe, Studio Food Editor

Credit: Brierley Horton

8. Brown Rice

“This might be a hot take, but Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice (which takes three minutes to heat in the microwave) is so much better than any pot of brown rice I’ve ever cooked on the stove. The texture is chewy and firm and a great blank slate for almost any kind fo dish. It’s a great shortcut to have on hand when you don’t have half an hour to wait for rice to be ready.” Lisa Freedman, Lifestyle Director

Credit: Heather McClees

9. Cauliflower Rice

“Because pre-prepped cauliflower rice exists in the frozen section, there is absolutely zero reason why I ever have to break out a food processor and go through the whole process myself. Plus, freezing cauliflower in this form helps make it less smelly!” Lauren Masur, Lifestyle Editor

Credit: Heather McClees

10. Zucchini Noodles

“Zucchini noodles are great to have on hand for a quick side, but I never want to haul out my spiralizer to make them myself. Lots of brands sell them from frozen now, so I like to grab a bag to have on hand.”— Patty Catalano, Contributing Writer

What frozen ingredient would you add to this list?