Kitchn Love Letters

The $5 Whole Foods Find I Keep Stashed in My Freezer at All Times

published Mar 2, 2023
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Freezer section of Whole Foods.
Credit: Kelli Foster

The freezer aisle has long been my secret weapon for quickly and easily bulking up meals with more veggies, and making easy work of side dishes. You’ll find me tossing frozen peas into my toddler’s mac and cheese and pots of soup. Frozen chopped spinach or kale is a staple in my smoothie routine. A bag of frozen broccoli means a roasted side dish is easy to pull together any night of the week. 

I used to breeze through the vegetable section of the freezer aisle, grabbing my usual basics without at a glance at what else was around. But a few years ago I broke from my usual habit to check out all the other veggies in the freezer aisle and try some new-to-me options — and boy am I glad I did. Because I found a new favorite that I’ve been tossing into my cart again and again for over two years: Whole Foods Market Caribbean-Style Vegetable Protein Blend.

Credit: Kelli Foster

What’s So Great About Whole Foods’ Caribbean-Style Protein Blend?

This is so much more than just a bag of frozen beans. In addition to a duo of beans (black beans and kidney beans), the blend also includes kale, bell peppers, corn, and a medley of warm and savory spices, like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, garlic powder, basil, fennel seed, anise, and black pepper. It’s flavorful, hearty, and way more than the sum of its parts. And what I really love most about this protein blend is that it gives you the ability to build a flavorful, wholesome meal with a variety of beans, vegetables, and spices without having to buy an armload of ingredients. 

You’ll find the Caribbean-Style Protein Blend in the freezer aisle at Whole Foods stores. More specifically, look for it near the 365-brand frozen vegetables, towards the outskirts of the brand’s offerings. At my store it’s on an upper shelf, although for another Kitchn editor it’s closer to the bottom.

Find it in stores: Whole Foods Caribbean-Style Protein Blend, $4.79 for 12 ounces

Credit: Kelli Foster

What’s the Best Way to Use Whole Foods Caribbean-Style Protein Blend?

Another reason this blend is a freezer staple for me is because it is hugely versatile. The absolute easiest way to serve it is simply heated or room temp, just as it is. In fact, it’s a frequent addition to my toddler’s lunch box. 

Topped with a fried egg, you’ve got a high-protein, low-effort lunch or dinner that’s ready in under 10 minutes. Add it to a rice bowl (maybe with a squeeze of lime to finish), and it makes an inexpensive and totally satisfying meal. Partner it with a pack of tortillas (your choice between flour or corn), and you can use the protein blend as the filling for tacos, quesadillas (my personal favorite!), and burritos. If a super high-protein, budget-friendly breakfast is what you’re after (read: something that’s not eggs), try mixing this into a tofu scramble — it’s great. You’ll never regret adding it to a pot of chili.

I saved the best for last. This protein blend is the key ingredient for the ultimate budget-friendly, one-pan meal: A quinoa skillet that breaks down to just $3 per serving. And that’s not all! This quinoa skillet checks all the boxes: We’re talking budget-friendly, plant-based, high-protein, high-fiber, minimal prep, easy cooking and cleanup. Plus, it’s packed with rich layers of flavor and a creamy finish that gives off risotto vibes.

Credit: Kelli Foster