If you're looking for a delicious and easy meal you can eat at home, you just may have overlooked one of the best places to find it - the freezer aisle. Surprised? You're not alone.
While most people view frozen food as a convenience, few people know that some of the best food in your supermarket can be found behind those glass doors. Here are just a few of the most commonly held myths surrounding frozen food:
MYTH: All frozen foods contain preservatives.
It's a common misconception, but added preservatives are not necessary to preserve frozen food. Freezing in itself acts as a natural preservative. In fact, many of your favorite frozen foods, like Stouffer's lasagna, contain no preservatives.
MYTH: Fresh vegetables are better for you than frozen vegetables.
While vegetables from your grocer's produce aisle may look fresher, many of them were actually picked days, weeks or even months earlier. Frozen vegetables, on the other hand, can be flash-frozen. Flash-freezing quickly freezes vegetables to lock in quality and flavor, ensuring the vegetables are just as nutritious as those found in the produce aisle. And, because frozen vegetables last longer, you can actually save money with less produce going bad before you have consumed it.
MYTH:Frozen meals don't use real ingredients.
You may be surprised to learn that many frozen meals use the highest quality ingredients and are made the way you would, if you had the time. This includes real cheese and even pasta made from scratch. Check the packaging of your favorite macaroni and cheese brand for the words "100% real cheese." If it says "100% real cheese" on the label, it is.
MYTH: Freezing preserves food indefinitely.
While freezing dramatically increases the life of your food, all food can lose freshness and flavor over time. Many of your favorite frozen foods list a "best-by" date to ensure you are getting the highest quality meal possible.
MYTH: Frozen prepared meals are more expensive than restaurant take-out meals.
The latest trend in frozen meals includes restaurant- inspired entrées. Stouffer's recently launched a new line of meals called Corner Bistro, which are inspired by casual dining restaurants and include items such as Seafood Scampi, Sesame Chicken and Monterey Chicken. At just under $4 each, these meals are a great alternative to eating out.
- 2 firm ripe bananas
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1/2 cup red grapes (about 16)
- 1/2 cup green grapes (about 16)
- 8 10-inch wooden skewers
- 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent cocoa solids), finely chopped
- Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Cut the banana into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Place in small bowl and toss gently with the orange juice.
- Skewer fruit, alternating two grapes for each piece of banana, and place fruit skewers onto lined tray.
- Place chocolate in small microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir well, and microwave another 10 seconds if necessary to melt chocolate.
- Using a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate onto fruit skewers.
- Place the tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Once frozen, skewers may be transferred to a sealable plastic bag where they will keep in the freezer for up to a week. Allow to soften at room temperature for 5 minutes before eating.
These delightful frozen treats are healthy, too.
Makes 4 servings
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 1/2 cups cooked, chopped chicken breast meat
- 1 can (12 fluid ounces) Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Milk
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
- 1 tablespoon diced jalapeños
- PREHEAT oven to 350–F. Lightly grease 2-quart casserole.
- COMBINE rice, cheese, chicken, evaporated milk, onion, eggs, cilantro, butter and jalapeños in prepared casserole; stir well.
- BAKE 45 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Season with salt.
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
For freeze ahead
- PREPARE as above; do not bake. Cover; freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Uncover.
- PREHEAT oven to 350–F.
- BAKE 60 to 70 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Season with salt.