These days grocery shopping and cooking may look a bit different. Pantries are filling up with canned vegetables, rice, pasta, and other shelf-stable items. Freezers are being stocked with frozen produce and heat-and-eat meals. There are many different ideas about which types of processed foods are “healthy” and which are not. Is fresh better than canned? Does freezing destroy nutrients? Check out our answers below, along with a list of nutritious pantry staples and a roundup of mouth-watering recipes!
Is fresh better than frozen?
Both fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients! Frozen produce is a great option because the nutrients are “locked in,” while fresh produce can lose nutrients over time as it sits on your counter or in your fridge. Frozen produce also lasts longer! This doesn’t mean that you should only buy frozen produce - but know that frozen is just as nutritious as fresh.
Does freezing destroy nutrients?
As you can probably guess from the previous answer - no (at least not very quickly)! Many fruits and vegetables are frozen right after they’re harvested and are frozen at peak ripeness. This means that the vitamins in these fruits and vegetables are preserved in the freezing process. Your frozen produce may start to lose nutrients over time, but you should be able to store your produce for up to a year.
Is canned food as good as fresh?
Canned fruits and vegetables are also often canned at peak ripeness, which ensures the best flavor and lots of nutrients. Some water-soluble vitamins may be lost in the canning process, but this process can also increase the availability of nutrients, as well! For example, canned tomatoes and tomato sauce provide antioxidants that are better absorbed when cooked!
Tip: The Canned Food Alliance has some great resources. Check out how long your canned foods will last and how to read can codes on their website!
Pantry & Freezer Staples
Fruits & Vegetables:
Now you may find yourself wondering what to do with all these items. We reached out to our dietitian colleagues for a list of 13 recipes that you can make using pantry staples and items from your freezer!
Coconut Date Balls: Kelsey of Simply Nourished Home
Daal Makhani (Coconut Lentil Curry): Shahzadi of Desi-licious RD
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili: Megan Byrd of The Oregon Dietitian
Homemade Nut & Seed Butter: Registered dietitian Judy Barbe, author of Your 6-week Guide to LiveBest
Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken: Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Sound Bites Nutrition LLC
Spiced Healthy Roasted Chickpeas: Amy Gorin Nutrition
Chickpea Meatballs: Jamie of Dishing Out Health
Salmon & Corn Fritters: Chrissy of Dairy Free for Baby
Roasted Frozen Broccoli - 5 Ways! Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD of It’s a Veg World After All
West African Peanut Stew with Chicken: Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, Owner of Kara Lydon Nutrition and The Foodie Dietitian Blog
Sweet Potato Oatmeal Bake with Blueberries: Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN of Bucket List Tummy
Slow Cooker Vegan Chili: Melissa Altman-Traub MS, RDN, LDN
Zero Waste Cinnamon Apple Chickpea Cookies: Erin Hendrickson, RDN
~Leah Swanson, MHSc, RDN, CD
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A place for our consultant Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to share nutrition science, yummy and healthy recipes, tips on seasonal ingredients, and other nutritional musings. Enjoy!