I’ve realized that ever since the pandemic, most of my diet is frozen food since that’s been easy to prepare, have delivered, and store long-term without losing track of it and having it spoil (which is a problem I have because I don’t check the fridge or pantry often enough and forget about stuff there, so I’ve had cheese/avocadoes/bananas etc. go bad on me because I don’t check on them often enough. I partly fixed this by just putting pantry stuff near my desk so I see it often)
I think I’m asking this question partly because of a lot of propaganda/cultural knowledge around frozen food being unhealthy. I’m trying to look up some articles to figure out WHY people think they’re bad, and the first result I got is actually debunking some myths, but may be perpetuating some other ones:
It debunks the idea that frozen foods have more chemicals, saying that freezing naturally preserves foods so less preservatives are required (Although I don’t necessarily think preservatives are unhealthy). Frozen foods also preserve nutritional content, so freezing veggies/fruits is good for retaining the vitamins in them.
The advice they give though is to find frozen foods with whole grains or natural ingredients in them, which seems like it might be perpetuating some other myths about artificial = bad but natural = good. There’s some decent advice about making sure that the calorie counts match up with your own diet/goals/plans.
2. Check the label. Go for entrees with at least 10 grams of protein. Frozen foods can be high in sodium, too, so aim for 600 milligrams or less per serving for heart health. For frozen vegetables or fruits, avoid those with added sugar or high-fat sauces.
Idk how applicable this is since I don’t entirely understand if e.g. avoiding salt for heart health is a valid thing or more of a myth. I’ve read about some amount of daily protein being important, but usually protein is in all sorts of stuff, including bread, and most people get enough protein just from what they usually eat without having to plan around it. Planning around it seems more important for building muscle/working out specifically.
I bought some frozen berries to add some variety to the meals instead of having it only be “junk food” like chicken strips, french fries etc. but I’m not sure what else to do to improve the nutritional value. Adding some veggies in some form seems like a good idea but I haven’t figured out consistent options for that yet.
Overall I like the benefits of frozen food and I think I’m looking for some downside because it’s hard for me to imagine that something is just strictly better than the alternatives (cooking food from ingredients) without having some downsides that I might not be aware of, whether in health or maybe in food quality or something else (Although personally I haven’t had quality issues with frozen food. Maybe my standards are low due to poor exposure to really good home-cooked food though.)
Seems like this article points out a bunch of positives for frozen food at first:
Pros: Fresh ingredients get frozen and preserved, not all of them have high sodium contrary to common knowledge, and frozen meals can be high in protein or gluten-free if someone needs that (although aside from being celiac idk why gluten free would be good/desirable). They’re also affordable, last longer, helpful for dieters due to clear calorie counts, and have a wide variety of options available.
Cons: Frozen foods tend to be “comfort foods” that are more calorie dence, like pizzas, meat, potatoes, and heavy-sauced dishes. These can be problematic if one is trying to lose weight or maintain a low calorie intake.
Another disadvantage of frozen meals is that they may contain trans fats. A ban on these fats will take effect 2018, but despite this, there are still uncomfortable amounts found in packaged foods. At times, advertisements can be deceiving. For instance, the product is labeled “trans fat-free” although they still contain this harmful ingredient. This is startling and worse, illegal.
Huh I didn’t know trans fats were banned. I’ll have to read up more on why they’re bad cuz I don’t know currently, except generic stuff like they clog up arteries and cause heart disease, which might just be false.
Oh, I expected the Cons section to be much longer but that was basically it. Dense in calories due to tending towards comfort foods, and potentially having trans fat even if advertised as “fat-free” since they can be below the legal requirement to report as having fat (like 0.5g).
So from this article at least it seems like frozen foods are fine to eat if I check for trans fat (if that’s even bad) and count calories if I don’t want to gain weight.