Mely Martinez knows a thing or two about authentic Mexican home-style cooking. The blogger behind Mexico in My Kitchen was born and raised in the city of Tampico, Tamaulipas, and then called more than 27 different places in Mexico home before moving to the United States over a decade ago.
She started her blog as a way to help her teenage son recreate the authentic Mexican food that their family has eaten for generations. If there's anyone who knows her way around a Latin American grocery store, it's Mely.
When we consulted her for this list, Mely had this to confess about frozen food in her culture: "Mexicans prefer to buy fresh foods when they're in season, since that's the way we're used to eating them. Most freezers in Mexican homes are commonly used to freeze and preserve meals that take a long time to make, like tamales, pozole, menudo, or cooked beans."
That said, there are a few freezer staples that Mely relies on when fresh versions aren't available.
1. Goya frozen guanabana and Goya frozen mamey, from $3 for 14 ounces
"Most of the frozen stuff I buy is fruit — but only when I can't get the fresh version," she says. "I look for things sold either whole or in pulp form. I love to buy guanabana and mamey — even frozen they are delicious! We often use frozen fruits to make cold drinks called aguas frescas, meaning 'fresh waters,' and shakes called licuados."
2. Goya frozen banana leaves, $2.50 for 16 ounces
"Another food item that we look for in the frozen section are packages of banana leaves (and again, this is only because we can't find them fresh)." Mely uses banana leaves in place of parchment paper when she cooks fish fillets, and to wrap tamales before steaming.
3. Goya empanada discs, $2 for 10
Mely also has frozen empanada discs on hand in her freezer at all times for when she wants to make variations on this dish, which originated in Spain.
Note: If this is starting to feel like an ad for Goya, we swear it's not. Mely just says the brand has the best selection and its products are readily available.
What frozen goodies do you pick up at the Mexican grocery store? Tell us about them in the comments below.