10 Healthy Frozen Foods You Should Always Have on Hand

Eliminating processed foods from your diet is probably the best tip for keeping your weight in check and feeling fantastic. But with such hectic schedules and a limited amount of time to spend in the kitchen, it’s also a pretty unrealistic goal.

Thankfully, not all packaged goods are as devilish as you might expect. The next time you’re stocking up, go for these 10 frozen foods to speed your way to a healthy meal.

1. Shrimp

frozen raw shrimp

Frozen raw shrimp are always good to have on hand. | iStock.com

These tiny crustaceans cook so fast from fresh, you’ll only add a minute or two to your prep time by adding them to your dish straight from the freezer. Shrimp are also a great source of lean protein. According to Men’s Health, you’ll score 18 grams of the muscle-building nutrient for just 84 calories when you eat a 3-ounce portion.

2. Brown rice

cooked brown rice in a blue bowl

Buy brown rice frozen. | iStock.com

One of the most notable takeaways from the government’s updated dietary guidelines is the recommendation to increase our intake of whole grains. Perhaps the easiest way to make this switch is by opting for brown rice instead of the white variety. The downside? Eating Well says brown rice can take up to 50 minutes to fully cook, while white rice typically falls in the 15- to 20-minute range.

3. Mixed berries

frozen mixed fruit - berries

Frozen mixed berries are great to have on hand. | iStock.com/baibaz

Antioxidant-rich berries are a favorite among health professionals. Though we’re a long way from knowing whether or not consuming the tiny fruits can aid in the fight against nasty diseases, preliminary research is looking good. One more recent review suggested consuming berries may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

4. Spinach

fresh spinach

Frozen spinach is definitely something to keep stocked. | Vkuslandia/iStock/Getty Images Plus

If you’re sick of having to wash, stem, and wilt greens every time you want to add them to a recipe, frozen spinach is a must. In fact, it may be even better for you than fresh leaves since it’s frozen very quickly after harvesting. Jeff Blumberg, a nutrition science professor at Tufts University, told The Washington Post fresh spinach can lose as much as half of its vitamin B content in a week.

5. Precooked meatballs

meatballs with red pepper sauce and spinach in a bowl

Meatballs can be a good staple to have. | iStock.com

Heck yes, those Trader Joe’s turkey meatballs are a freezer’s friend! Frozen meatballs can be a great choice, as they are a good source of protein, and don’t take very long to thaw.

However, they can also be a terrible choice if you aren’t careful. Many are loaded with preservatives and are more soy than actual meat, so be sure to check out the ingredients list before adding them to your cart.

6. Peas

a bowl of frozen peas

Frozen peas are good to have as well. | iStock.com

Like spinach, peas are another great vegetable option in the freezer aisle. In 2014, an in-depth study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry compared the nutrient retention of frozen versus fresh fruits and vegetables. The results for peas were particularly interesting because they indicate the frozen version actually retains higher levels of certain vitamins than fresh peas do.

7. Quality frozen pizza

thin-crust spinach pizza ready to be sliced

Go for frozen pizzas with lots of veggies. | iStock.com

Yes, frozen pizza can be healthy. Today’s options are a lot more varied than what you remember from childhood, so take a little bit of time to study your options because the range in quality is huge.

Of course, this means doing a bit of contemplating when it comes to picking out the perfect pie. Go for ones that keep ingredients to a minimum and stay within a reasonable calorie range.

8. Salmon

Grilled salmon with lime

Freeze this delicious fish for a healthy dish that can be thawed at a later date. | iStock.com/jaroszpilewski

Like with shrimp, having salmon fillets in your icebox is a great option. Contrary to some belief, freezing fish doesn’t strip it of any of its nutritional value, Livestrong.com reports. That means keeping a couple fillets in the freezer won’t take away all the protein, vitamins, and omega-3s salmon contains.

9. Whole-grain bread

whole-grain bread

Make room in your freezer for more of these whole grain wonders. | iStock.com

As previously mentioned, having whole-grain options on hand in your freezer is a must. If you follow Still Tasty‘s user-friendly tips on sticking whole grain bread on ice, then storing bread in the freezer is a cinch.

10. Chicken

Raw chicken breasts

Chicken breasts in your freezer is a must for healthy food planning. | iStock.com/voltan1

Yes, we previously mentioned thawing chicken from your freezer can take a long time if you don’t plan ahead. But that doesn’t make it any less of a good choice as a protein source to have on hand. And we aren’t talking about the breaded, sodium-injected tenders you find in the freezer aisle at the grocery store. We are talking about the plain chicken you can find already frozen, or fresh cuts you freeze yourself.

Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec

Additional reporting by Chelena Goldman