Food

An Ode to Frozen Vegetables

As a food writer, I’m probably not supposed to admit this but…

…I love cooking with frozen vegetables. Not all of them and not indiscriminately the way I love to with fresh, in-season, local, bla-bla-bla vegetables, but this time of year, when the produce pickings are slim, it’s almost liberating to head to the freezer aisle of the local supermarket and throw a few boxes and bags of my favorites into my cart.

Have you looked in the frozen vegetable section lately? It’s no longer just the freezer-burned blocks of pea-corn-carrot medleys of our wayward youths. You can find almost anything — Brussels sprouts, kale, okra, artichoke hearts, butternut squash, cauliflower, riced cauliflower, zucchini, spiraled zucchini. They’re cheaper than their fresh counterparts and in some cases, I’m just gonna say it…they actually taste better. (This is because frozen vegetables are picked at optimal ripeness and immediately frozen, a process which retains their flavor as well as their nutrients.) Best of all, they come fully prepped — no washing, drying, trimming, chopping, mincing. The most work I have to do to get them ready is run a little warm water over them in a strainer to thaw.

Here’s how I use what I think of as The Big Three that are always in my freezer…

Frozen Spinach and Kale To me, many frozen vegetables are not necessarily tasty enough to stand alone or dress up as a side dish and I find that particularly true of spinach and kale. (Unless, of course, you’re going steakhouse-style creamed spinach.) This means, I mostly end up tossing them into other dishes, which means the vegetable is built in to the main dish as opposed to its own recipe. (Read: One less thing to cook, one less pot to clean.) Frozen chopped spinach and kale (thawed and squeezed of all their moisture) are ideal for chucking into omelets and frittatas, pot pies, smoothies (!), risottos, stir-fries, pastas and grain bowls, on top of pizzas, and…

…working into your favorite meatball recipe. Just replace a good chunk of the meat with thawed/squeezed frozen chopped spinach and you’ll have a lighter, tastier dinner.

Frozen Peas I’ll never forget a few years ago, when I was working at Bon Appétit, one of the recipe developers said she preferred working with frozen peas even in the spring when fresh peas were in season. It was a shock to me, but I understand what she means. When you can find sweet, peak-season fresh English peas, it’s no contest. Fresh rules. But the problem is, those can be elusive. I throw them into risottos, stir-fries and rice dishes, but, unlike spinach and kale, I also feel good about giving them star treatment. One example of that? Smashed peas on toast for lunch. Just mash a cup of thawed frozen peas in a bowl (or whirl in a mini-food processor) with a handful chopped fresh mint leaves, 2 tablespoons-ish fresh Parm, juice from half a lemon, hefty drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then spread on toasted crusty bread and drizzle with a little olive oil. For next-level: Top with fresh mozzarella.

Green Beans I grew up eating frozen “French-cut” beans as a legit side dish to Stouffer’s Chicken Pot Pies, so this is probably nostalgia talking, but weirdly, nothing is more comforting to me than dumping a bag or a box of green beans straight in a hot pan, watching them smoke and steam until they thaw down, then stirring in butter, shallots, salt and pepper…

I do this for weekday lunches a few times a week, topping with a seven-minute egg and hot sauce. It’s such an easy way to work in a substantial pile of vegetables and it’s super filling. If I’m feeling really motivated, I’ll add minced ginger and garlic with the shallots, and then when it’s off the heat drizzle in a little soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.

Tell me your most inspired frozen vegetable recipes. I’m ready!

P.S. Three Trader Joe’s meal hacks and green pea hummus.

  1. Olga says...

    Done that for years! I could have written and signed this post.
    I also have artichoke hearts, a mix of broccoli/cauliflower and edamame.

  2. Marnie says...

    Sauté an onion, add the bag of frozen veg, some kind of bean or legume and 4 cups of stock, some seasoning….20 mins in the instantpot, hand blender….soup!

  3. Sam H. says...

    Jenny,

    I love this post! The pandemic has me buying way more frozen vegetables and i’ve found ways to incorporate them into many a meal. One of my favorites: annie’s white cheddar mac and cheese with frozen peas (& tuna & some cream & some buttah). It’s my version of quick and dirty tuna casserole.

  4. Inga says...

    Just tried Jenny’s method of cooking French green beans with butter, shallots, and an egg (+ garlic!), and it made for a sublime Friday dinner. Thank you!

  5. Living in Belgium I have not been able to find fresh kale for love or money so frozen it is! Some produce available now is great (looking at you fist size heads of garlic) but I must say it is nice to be able to count on my frozen veggies to make a little taste of home. Also I will always and forever love a box of Mac and cheese with frozen peas tossed in at the very end of the cooking time.

  6. Amanda says...

    I’m home alone all day with a rambunctious, curious, BIG FEELINGS 16 month old, my husband’s small business has him working 15 hour days (VERY thankful for work though), we have no family in town, and it’s a MFin’ pandemic. Better believe I’m buying frozen veggies LOL

    My kiddo has gotten a little more picky about veggies lately, so he’s not always open to a stand-alone. A lot of mornings I fix frozen broccoli or peas in eggs with a generous amount of cheddar cheese… we BOTH love it! ((I also love adding TJ’s “Everything but the Elote” seasoning to mine, but trying not to pass on my passion for salt just yet haha))

  7. Ana says...

    Parenting a toddler means little time for meal prep so we heavily rely on organic frozen veggies. They are tasty, organic and cheaper than the fresh editions. Workhorses in our family are broccoli (rebranded as baby trees) that can be sautéed, baked in frittatas, incorporated into fried rice, pasta sauces etc… Next up are spinach (to be used similarly), we shamefully don’t even thaw them and throw them in the hot pan directly for “flash-thawing” and green beans which we cook with sautéed onions and tomato sauce. Others include veggie medleys (wholefoods has tons of options), okra and bell peppers which are great addition to stew or tacos or anything really.

  8. Nessa says...

    Living alone and losing my job during the pandemic, it has often been hard to be motivated to feed myself properly, and if I’m honest sometimes difficult to afford to do so as well. Frozen vegetables have been a god send, throwing a selection into a baking tin, adding a little oil and salt, blasting them in the oven for half an hour and I have a nourishing and tasty meal with minimal effort- when I’ve been able to whip up some sort of dressing, it’s been even better.

    • Amber J says...

      Yes!! I do this, too. A huge saver in difficult financial times for us.

    • Hang in there. Better days ahead!

    • Aimee says...

      Hi Nessa, I just want to say…you’re doing great! Good for you for finding ways to continue to eat and to eat well! It’s so easy to feel like we aren’t doing enough but it’s a lie. You’re rocking it, girl, keep it up.

  9. Jean says...

    You THAW them. I did not know that. Ha! I love this blog – have learned so many useful tips and tricks!

  10. Nat says...

    My absolute favorite to purchase: Frozen Mirepoix. I require onions, carrots, and celery as a base to so many soups and for all my meatball recipes. Its great to always have on hand and cuts prep time in half!

  11. Jessica says...

    Frozen organic veg has made meal prep for my baby so easy. I just dump the bag in the steamer basket, steam away, then purée and freeze into cube trays. No washing or chopping required. It’s so easy. This way I know she’s getting nothing but high quality food and she actually loves it.

  12. kate says...

    I love to freeze this big $5 containers of organic greens in gallon bags to pull out later and use in smoothies. Great way to get a few more greens in…

  13. Lisa says...

    I would like to also mention frozen berries. My friend got me into it. I now always try to have frozen raspberries or blueberries around. You can add them into oatmeal (and with little kids, you don’t have to even cook them in the oatmeal. Add them to cool it down a bit) – we call it pink porridge. Easy addition for smoothies. The blueberries can be used for blueberry pancakes or muffins, and to stop the batter from turning purple, add just before cooking. My kids like to snack on the as is in summer. They’re like mini ice lollies

    • Lisa says...

      I would also just like to add – my French MIL who is a fantastic cook uses lots of frozen veg, like artichoke hearts. It’s mentioned in a This American Life episode about Paris – but in France they have a chain called Picard which is just amazing frozen food. The U.K. has Iceland. It’s … not quite the same

    • MB says...

      I’ve just discovered how excited my kids get about frozen fruit! They feel like it’s such a treat, and they love adding it to their hot porridge (and turning it purple). Cheap lockdown thrills

    • inga says...

      Literally half of the freezer bin is frozen berries in my house – TJ’s and Costco organics. Plus I did blueberry u-pick this summer. Homemade blueberry syrup is just the BEST.

    • Ashley says...

      I often add frozen berries to yogurt I pack for lunches… keeps the yogurt cold and berries are thawed by lunchtime!

  14. alison says...

    Fully endorsing Trader Joe’s frozen “Organic Foursome” in all its school-lunch glory. A dollop of butter, a shake of garlic salt — almost a meal on its own! (read: it has 100% been a meal on its own.)

  15. Brynn says...

    A new standby is edamame spread: a bag of thawed shelled edamame blended with fresh basil, lemon, olive oil, scallions, garlic, salt & Castelvetrano Olives (recipe via Love & Lemons, but add the olives – trust me). I found it when looking for a dairy-free veggie dip option for entertaining (remember entertaining??) but it’s also delicious for an easy breakfast or lunch: just spread on toast and top with a fried egg, sliced tomatoes, roasted red pepper and/or fresh mozzarella. Edamame is also one of the few veggies my kids will happily eat so they are a standard in our freezer.

    Frozen artichoke hearts are also a dream. Thaw, toss with olive oil & salt and roast until they’re just getting toasty and crispy. They’re an awesome side (+ aioli to dip) with a simple grilled steak. Like fries but more vegetably?

    • benne says...

      Yup, frozen, gmo-free, in-shell edamame is my go-to lunch or mid-afternoon snack. Steam a full 35mins, which is just until they are thinking about turning from bright green to olive, toss in a big bowl with your very best olive oil and flakiest sea salt. So satisfying to eat. Edamame is one of the foods that help balance depression via folates etc – helpful mid-winter.
      I also regularly use organic frozen chopped spinach, (with sauteed mushrooms and potato chunks as a rough side dish) or variations thereof. Also those TJ’s french green beans for charred chinese green beans. And organic pea’s which I add to infinite varieties of quinoa bowls. All from TJ’s, who have a really thoughtful frozen section – though I only shop for the veggies as I generally avoid processed. But if I did eat processed it would be because their frozen looks like so much actual care went into every product.

  16. Rachel says...

    Frozen veggies are a staple for my every-day-of-the-week breakfast. Day one I microwave a few servings of some kind of frozen mix, serve with two scrambled eggs. Days two and three the already-cooked veggies just go in the pan with the eggs! Most days I just add salt and pepper to finish.

  17. Kaitlyn says...

    May I suggest a British classic with a twist?

    Minted mushy peas!

    Boil peas, mash them, add salt, lime and fresh mint. 5 mins to throw together. Delicious and kids love them too! Serve with any kind of pie, potato, ect.

  18. Mary says...

    Our go to quick and easy recipe is what we call Turkey Crumble.
    I could eat it every single night. And it makes a great cold leftover lunch the next day.
    Ground turkey—-crumbled up
    Frozen peas
    sometimes we add in some chopped onions
    Cook it all up in a wok or frying pan.
    Add some parmesan and black pepper at the end.
    Done.
    Eat in a bowl while watching tv or working at your desk!
    Sometimes we get really fancy and use grass-fed ground beef instead.

  19. jeannie says...

    I love this! I never buy frozen veggies, but am going to now. I already feel more relaxed thinking of having these in my freezer!

  20. Loren says...

    Trader Joe’s frozen artichoke hearts! A few things I do with them: turn them into a gratin by sautéing them with plenty of olive oil, thyme, garlic, and chopped onion, {leek, scallions, and shallots are all great here too} salt and pepper, then cooling it a bit, adding chopped parsley, a scoop of cottage cheese, two beaten eggs, and a couple of handfuls of grated cheese. Turn it into a baking dish, sprinkle more cheese on top, and bake until the cheese is browning on top, about 40 minutes. Best potluck dish ever. Gluten free and vegetarian.

    I also sauté them as in the first part of the recipe and then add them to Marcella Hazan’s butter onion tomato sauce to be served over pasta or just eaten plain.

    The third thing I do with them is sauté them as above with plenty of onions, then add nutritional yeast, water, some white wine, and whatever herbs you like {parsley and bay are good}. Cook it until the water tastes delicious, then puree it and strain it for artichoke soup.

    • inga says...

      Loren, this artichoke soup sounds amazing and I cannot wait to try it. Thank you!

    • Jaime says...

      Wow YUM!! All of these!

  21. Melody says...

    The most relatable post yet! I have a bag of frozen broccoli in my freezer right now but can’t figure out how to make it not smooshy and pretty nasty. Any suggestions???

    • Katie says...

      Roast it! Even frozen broccoli is great roasted.

    • Alex says...

      Saute it in a cast iron pan. Let the broccoli thaw a little on your counter, then heat up the pan with a few table spoons of oil. Stir in the broccoli with salt and pepper and a small splash of water. Add a lid to the pan and let them cook undisturbed for 5ish minutes (until the broccoli is warmed through and water is evaporated) Stir them around once more and then let sit until they develop a crust. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and maybe some parmesan.

    • alexis says...

      my husband adds it to mac and cheese and it’s great!

    • Katie Larissa says...

      I think frozen broccoli is subpar, even when roasted on high heat with olive oil and seasoning. BUT in soup, it’s good. I like to roast it and then add it to soup. Especially if you’re blending the soup anyway! Broccoli cheese soup, anyone?

    • Rosie says...

      I make pasta and about 4 minutes before the noodles are done I add a few handfuls of frozen broccoli per serving to the pot. Then I strain it, return it to the pot and mix in Parmesan and pesto. Delicious!!! I can sub some of a normal portion of pasta with broccoli and don’t even miss it.

    • inga says...

      Just go with the flow and puree it for delicious broccoli soup.

    • HH says...

      Air fry! Restaurant quality char in minutes. I haven’t tried with frozen but would just do a quick thaw and get the extra water off with paper towels. Toss with a spritz of lemon, Italian seasoning, red chili flakes and pretty much any cheese (I happily swear by the Kraft parm shaker in a pinch). Then 350 in the air fryer for ~7-10 minutes. Heaven!

      The air fryer also does perfectly crisped bacon in 4-6 minutes I mean can you even.

    • Grace says...

      Use them in smoothies! If we’re out of leafy greens I’ll throw some florets in with my berries and banana. If you’re into smoothie bowls, they’re great for thickening up your smoothie too!

  22. Eve says...

    I’ve always had frozen peas in my freezer (can’t get enough of them) and recently discovered frozen butternut squash! I always find squash such a pain to prep and after roasting I definitely couldn’t tell the difference between fresh and frozen. I also like that I can just cook a little at a time for say a veggie bowl as sometimes squash can be so massive it’s hard to use it all up! I’ve also discovered my dog LOVES squash 😂
    The other thing I swear by is frozen herbs…not all of them (basil isn’t the best) but lots of them are fine and it saves sooo much time not having to pick and chop the leaves. I am pretty good with avoiding food waste but fresh herbs are one thing I have found tricky so now I usually either buy frozen or chop and freeze myself as soon as I buy them to prevent them going off!

    • Rusty says...

      My scruffy dawg has to have an antihistamine every say, year round. I pop it into a square of pre-cooked butternut squash and throw it to her… shd swallows it, we’re done and she then has her dinner!
      I’ve never tried frozen … (because not much is ever not in season in Australia), but now I will.

  23. Hadley says...

    As a Canadian living very close to the border, can I just say…gaaaaawd, I miss Trader Joe’s!

    • Christine says...

      Oh I am with you! I hope Biden can work with Trudeau to allow us the odd day trip to TJ’s in Buffalo without a 2 week quarantine. LOL.

    • Agnes says...

      Me tooooo sob!!!

    • Rosie says...

      Whenever my Canadian cousins drive across the border they bring a cooler and smuggle Trader Joe’s home.

    • Emie says...

      So, I’m on the Buffalo side of that border. I’d like to get into Canada to try some of that ketchup popcorn seasoning. I can get it through Amazon here but it’s $$$. What I’d give to go over that bridge one day soon……

  24. Pailey says...

    Yay frozen vegetables! They are such a weeknight lifesaver.

    We have what we call the “PPP” meal on weekly rotation, namely pasta, pesto, peas. You just add frozen peas directly into the pot of boiling water with your pasta during the last two minutes of cooking time for the pasta, drain, liberally add pesto, and voila! Bonus points for adding parmesan. :)

    • Christina says...

      Doing this TONIGHT! Thanks Pailey for the PPPP! (Absolutely will be adding Parm :)

    • Claire says...

      Oh, this took me back! We used to have “PPP” pasta salad at the sorority house in college, and on days when it was served for lunch girls would literally bring containers to take extra scoops home with them because it was THAT good. Such an easy and delicious meal!

    • Pailey says...

      @Christina, yay! I hope you enjoyed it!!
      @Claire – that’s amazing! :)

    • M.A. says...

      I have done that for years, ever since TJs started having those fabulous frozen petite peas.

  25. Lisa says...

    Stopped the doom scroll for some beauty… and veggies by my favorite food writer! Yes, please. Thank you.

    • Claire MacCallum says...

      The whole damn blog makes me so lament the lack of Trader Joes!! Farm Boy in Ontario is trying. Highly recommend their almond stuffed olives but no comparison with the variety and scope of Trader Joes goodies.

  26. Jo says...

    My local Costco in Montana recently started selling Tattooed Chef frozen products and they’ve been life-changing in our household! The Mexican corn and zucchini spirals are among the best I’ve ever had.

    • M.A. says...

      Costco has a fabulous pre-mixed frozen stir-fry medley in 5 lb. bags (resealable). I frequently toss in other veggies to vary th mix, but in a pinch, just wok them as-is with some soy or ponzu.

  27. nl says...

    life changer here: dump a bag of frozen brocs or cauli (no thawing), onto a parchment lined pan, spritz with avo oil (so no need to toss) + sprinkle with salt, goes into a 400 oven (toaster oven for me cause it goes from 0 to 400 in like 2 mins). comes out the perfect mix of roasted/steamed (not charred/crispy/trendy, so don’t expect that). so easy and yummy and like zero to clean up (ny res=clean my gd house less). and my little kids looove it whatttt.

  28. Irina says...

    It’s interesting to think about all the environmental & ethical impacts that folks are bringing up… the plastics, the transportation, etc. Who would have thought that a simple post about the convenience of frozen veggies would generate such a storm of a discussion?

    My deal is, I try to eat seasonally, which means that in the winter, most of the vegetables I eat are those that keep well in their raw state for weeks if not months – regular and sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, onions and garlic. Most of these are grown close to where I live. I take a good multivitamin that costs less than $1 a day to supplement the nutrients that I may be missing out on by limiting my produce intake in this way.

    Growing up in the Soviet Union, we ate seasonally out of necessity. Fresh tomatoes, zucchini, or peas were simply not available in the stores or at farmer’s markets in the winter. There was a small selection of frozen and canned produce available, but not a ton. Those who could, did their own home canning in the summer to supplement the root veggies that were the only thing available in winter.

    These days, I eat seasonally and mostly locally by choice, to avoid food that was transported long distances, packaging, and industrial processing. Having grown up with this, it’s fairly easy for me. My body seems to know to crave potatoes and cabbage in the winter and salad greens and strawberries in the summer. Also, I’m lucky to live in a state that grows almost any kind of produce, except for citrus and tropical fruit, and in a rural farming community to boot, so it’s pretty easy to buy local or somewhat local.

    It must be a lot more difficult for folks who grew up with year-round access to any kind of food to adjust their diets based on the season as well as what is grown nearby. But, imagine what a difference we could make if, as a society, we could start shifting in that direction. The environmental benefits would be tremendous. And, that first radish or cherry or corn of the year would taste so much more special and bring us so much more joy.

    • marjolein says...

      I agreee, Irina. One of my resolutions this year is to be
      more thougtful about the produce i buy and whether they are produced locally or are transported or even flewn in. I appreciate your thoughts on this, and indeed, that first really locally grown berry will taste all the more.

    • M.A. says...

      I used to go to the weekly farmers’ market to get fresh local produce. With the Covid19 shutdowns I no longer have the option. High quality frozen is a once-a-month shopping trip. Less chance of exposure. I’m over 65, so higher risk.

    • inga says...

      Thank you so much for the reminder, Irina. This is actually so easy to do and so helpful.

  29. Meredith Kremer says...

    Frozen veggies are a novelty for my kids. Forget cooking, they will happily eat a bowlful of frozen peas, or carrots!

  30. Dear Jenny, I love frozen vegetables. I would feel naked without my bag of Costco’s organic broccoli bag in my freezer, or Trader Joe’s tri color chopped peppers, or the ubiquitous bag of peas-corn-carrots (which I have learned to use in an instant soup from the great Jacque Pepin – just add to boiling water/broth, instant oatmeal, butter, salt, pepper and cheese).
    My family and I are not very good with sticking with meal plans. To think-up a meal we would crave 7 days from now is just too much of a gamble. Frozen vegetables have allowed me to change our mind without the added pressure of fresh vegetables going bad.
    Thank you so much for sharing this post!

    • Emie says...

      Had to go look this one up because I couldn’t figure out why the oatmeal was in the mix…. it’s used as a thickening agent which makes sense now. I usually have grits on hand and I see that works as well… definitely giving this a try.

  31. K says...

    Oh another Trader Joe’s Meal I made recently
    Steel Cut Oats + French Cultured Salted Butter + Bit of Milk + Some Shredded 4 Cheese (I’d recommend freshly grated cheese but we’re being lazy here) + Haricot Verts + Rainbow Peppercorns = Savory Oatmeal Risotto

  32. V says...

    I make an easy Palak (spinach curry) from frozen spinach all the time:
    Heat some coconut or olive oil in a large flat bottomed pan over medium heat. Add roughly chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1-2 inches peeled ginger (also chopped), and a handful whole raw almonds. Stir a little and add some/all of the the following spices (just dump in how much looks good, don’t have to measure): turmeric powder, whole cumin, coriander, fennel, couple cloves, sprinkle of nutmeg, a little cinnamon, peppercorns. Cook, stirring a little, until everything is jammy and spices fragrant. Add frozen spinach (don’t thaw, I use 1 bag Trader Joe’s Organic) and some salt to taste and cook until heated through. Let cool a little and blend with the jar slightly open with water to get to your desired consistency (I go for a thick soup texture using the “whole vegetable” setting on a Blendtec). Pour back into pan. At this point you can add 1 of the following if you wish: pan fried mushrooms, baked paneer cubes, roasted sweet potato cubes, cooked chickpeas, roasted cauliflower florets. Heat until the sauce just bubbles and salt to taste. Enjoy as is or with chapatis, naan, rice — I like a bowl with a 7 minute egg on top :)

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      This is dinner tonight. Thank you, V!

    • Jenna Richmond says...

      Just took a pic of this comment, can’t wait to try it!

  33. Kate says...

    Cool. Now let’s talk about the insurrection of our government.

    • Faith says...

      I’m sure they’re working on a post as we speak. xo

    • allison says...

      Yes indeed.

    • Shannon McQuilkin says...

      BWAH HA HA HA!!!! This was the 1st comment I saw and it cracked me up. And after today, one needs a little laughter (but GO GEORGIA)!

    • JJ says...

      Yes. Same. Please.

    • Ambika says...

      ermmmmm, it’s not like Cup of Jo doesn’t freely discuss these things…. they’re allowed to post about other topics as well!!!

    • Anna says...

      Kate I was glad to see your comment as I too am eager to hear from my COJ community on the events of today. I’ve been imagining what this all looks like through the eyes of the world. Come on January 20! I echo Shannon…GO GEORGIA!!!!

    • Caroline says...

      This was posted in the morning when all was calm. xoxo

    • M says...

      Plus some of us come here to forget the troubles that are waiting for us on any news app/channel/podcast/blog…

    • Laura says...

      Woke to the max.

    • Kate says...

      Get a life!

  34. This post is a LIFESAVER as I sit here with a bag of frozen broccoli, wondering what to do with it. Thank you!!

  35. Ann says...

    I was at Trader Joe’s today. I always buy the frozen organic broccoli & Brussels. They are in constant rotation here.

  36. Agnes says...

    Thank you for letting me know where I’ve gone wrong – I need to THAW the veggies first!! And squeeze. Ok. I always cooked straight from frozen and always found them so gross!! I got frozen peas recently for a soup and use frozen kale for smoothies and that was fine as it’s in liquid already. Fresh sides can’t be beat though.

    • Meg says...

      Right!? Things good cooks know and barely mention end up greatly improving my life!

    • Rusty says...

      That’s just for the spinach and kale…. not everything!!
      Hahaha 🤣

  37. Sarah T says...

    I love buying frozen cauliflower and broccoli instead of fresh as there are few cooking tasks I hate more than chopping up fresh versions of both! It’s so messy! So much easier to use the frozen ones that have been cut already into florets.

  38. Cynthia says...

    The advantage of using frozen vegetables is being able to cook as much as you want, and they taste fresh. Fresh vegetables are not always great looking or reasonably priced.

  39. Frozen vegetables are an essential part of my eating routine. Packing lunches for work is daunting, but I’ve found something I can handle… I put frozen broccoli in a glass pyrex with some salt, Bragg’s herb mix sprinkle, and evoo— all while it’s still frozen. Then when it’s lunchtime, I just put it in the microwave at work and it’s the easiest healthy lunch in the world.

    • Maya says...

      You do you but the smell of broccoli cooking in a work microwave really skeeves me out, ha!

  40. Erin says...

    Yes to frozen peas. I also like pre-shelled frozen edamame, which give a good combo hit of green veggies and protein.

    But otherwise, I live in California and can get nice fresh veggies year-round. The texture of fresh vegetables is just so much better; freezing breaks the plant cell walls and makes veggies mushy. I tried frozen green beans early in the pandemic as part of an attempt to visit the grocery store less often, and it was like eating soggy shoelaces. No thanks!

  41. Jules says...

    Frozen brussel sprouts are the only kind I buy! hahaha. My dad (and now I) always grows our vegetables throughout a decent part of the year and he freezes his crop to make it through the winter and I take them. But at the same time I wouldn’t even dream of buying or making fresh brussel sprouts. I love throwing frozen ones in a pan with jarred garlic and butter and eating them as a meal in under 10 minutes.

    • Emie says...

      We leave Brussels sprout stalks in the garden all winter and go out to get them as needed. Just like fresh. Eventually later in the season the deer get hungry and strip the stalks clean.

  42. K says...

    Trader Joe’s Frozen Chicken Thigh + Frozen French Beans/Frozen Broccoli + Island Soyaki Sauce is such a satisfying weeknight meal :))))))))

  43. riye says...

    There’s only two of us at our house so sometimes we can’t eat all our fresh vegetables fast enough so frozen vegetables are a great option for us. I usually cook them, cool them down, and use them in salads and in place of rice or pasta. :-)

  44. K says...

    I love those Trader Joe’s Haricot Verts also! And I remember that egg and string bean lunch and totally copied it!

    I do prefer them fresh (and used to get them for free) but I do have fond memories of a giant pan of blistered string beans tossed with chili garlic crisp topped with all styles of egg: boiled, scrambled, over easy…

    Also I totally want to make risotto with peas (and mushrooms?) now.

  45. christine says...

    In my latest grocery store click & collect (online ordering) I got a bag of “California Mix” instead of mire poix. Blech. What do I do with frozen broccoli, cauliflower, & carrot coins!

    • Susan Davies says...

      Thaw some, and heat them in a pot of good quality chicken broth, with rotisserie or leftover chicken (or cooked sausage chunks, cubed ham – whatever), season to taste (Herbes de Provence will do well, with lots of S&P) serve over hot noodles for a quick soup supper. Add toasted chunky bread and what could go wrong?

    • cg says...

      Toss them with olive oil, garlic, some onion (powder), a hit of paprika, salt and pepper, then roast them on high heat. Serve. Yum!

    • Pam says...

      Haha, Christine I buy that one frequently! My family likes it sautéed in olive oil or butter (no need to defrost, jump dump right into hot pan) with thyme and oregano as a side dish. Enjoy!

    • Charlie says...

      Add some chicken stock and maybe meatballs for a delicious soup!

    • Lisa says...

      Maybe steam and add in onion, garlic, spices & stock, blend into a soup?

    • Charlie says...

      Often the answer to random vegetables is soup. Add some chicken stock and maybe meatballs for a delicious dinner!

    • Cynthia says...

      Thaw, chop, and add to a stir fry. They’re also great steamed with a cheese sauce. Also great in place of just broccoli in Chicken Divan, a casserole made with chopped chicken, a cream sauce, and topped with grated cheddar cheese and browned in the oven. My husband and I like the California mix steamed with butter as a side dish.

    • S says...

      I have used the California mix in a quick Thai curry (with jarred curry paste). I will definitely do that again; next time I will thaw them first since it was a little watery compared to when I use fresh veggies.

    • Caraline says...

      Add to ramen! I buy instant ramen (a more natural option not the old school mega salt option) and add a ton of frozen veggies in for a quick dinner :)

  46. Grace says...

    The packaging that is inevitable with frozen veggies is bad but I hate wasting fresh produce even more. I’ve thrown away too many things that have gone bad in the fridge before I could get to them, as I am not a meal planner – I like the flexibility of making whatever I am feeling like each day. Would love to one day see biodegradable packaging! Or bulk frozen veggies that you could scoop a la the frozen fishballs at Asian supermarkets (pre-COVID obviously)?

    A bag of mixed veggies (carrots, corn, peas, beans) is the quickest way to getting some nutrition into fried rice, a regular in our household: heat up some oil, toss the frozen veggies straight in, add day-old rice, season it, then push everything aside and scramble some eggs, and mix it up. If I had to prep each of those veggies separately, this would no longer be a quick and easy meal!

    • K says...

      I also love the mix veggies as a quick way to make chicken pot pie!

    • M.A. says...

      I agree. Cooking for two makes it a real challenge to avoid spoilage/waste with fresh veggies. And I recycle all the plastic.

    • Anu says...

      I’ve seen bulk frozen veggies in a co-op. My coop carried five or six of the more common varieties. I lived too far to buy frozen (14-block walk) so I can’t tell how they were. I’m guessing it was Cascade brand since most of the bagged stuff was theirs. I miss my co-op (had to move due to pandemic).

  47. Connie says...

    Yes to this. And I agree about Frozen Spinach. Man, that goes in everything!

    I also like frozen shelled edamame. I will do a quick pickle on some carrot “coins”, then pan sear some mahi or tuna (use the recipe from Epicurious. works perfect.), then put the fish and the carrot and steam the edamame (Mad plus if that can be done IN THE BAG. Hallelujah!), and put that all on top of a little jasmine rice and add a little squoooooosh of sriracha over the whole darn thing. It’s bright, it’s tangy, and it reminds this little midwestern gal that spring is eventually going to come. We call it Fish Bowl and it’s our favorite these days.

  48. Mollie says...

    I am totally on board with frozen green beans, frozen spinach and I can’t wait to try frozen cauliflower until it’s browned! that really does sound so amazing. One thing I’d like to add to the mix of life-changing easy prepared foods is canned potatoes! CANNED POTATOES! life-changing, I promise. baked in a dish ( in my toaster oven- it’s sooo easy) with olive oil and season all salt, serve with ketchup. Or baked in a cast iron skillet with oil and butter, salt and pepper. Or mixed with canned spinach. Leftovers in an omelette with sausage and cheddar. Canned potato slices with guyere and onions- i’ve eaten so many more potatoes this year!

  49. cg says...

    I have a very funny frozen veggie story that I love telling to people if they’re willing to listen, especially if they’re making a move to the east coast. back in 1999 (!!!) my husband was offered a job in NY that we didn’t see coming, and it was an opportunity of a lifetime. So we dug up our roots in San Francisco, having lived nowhere else, and moved across the country in the dead of winter, literally arrived Jan 5 to one of the biggest blizzards NYC and its suburbs had experienced in the last ten years. Fast forward to us finally moving into an apartment after three weeks searching and living in a motel. We were not yet 30 years old, excited about his job, and the prospect of me taking time off from regular 9-5 work to work on being an independent fine artist. After settling into the apartment, I headed out to stock up our kitchen, so went to the local supermarket and was shocked at the state of the produce. Much of it was worn, freezer burned, not in season, and very limiting. Not something I was used to having come from California where produce seemed in fresh abundance year round. After much internal debate standing at the produce section, I headed to the frozen section and grabbed a couple bags of broccoli and corn.

    It was probably the shock of having left all our family in the west coast, living nearly a month in a motel, in a town just northeast of Manhattan, not knowing anyone, really, and being by myself all day, but I got home with the groceries, called my husband at his new job, and immediately started sobbing big, fat, hot tears. He was so concerned, and thought something happened to me, when I was finally able to speak through my sobs, I told him…

    sob sob sob “… I… had to… buy frozen vegetables!” wail, sob, sniff.

    From the other end “It’s alright honey. It’s gonna be all right, I promise. I’ll be home in a few hours.”

    LOL!

    We’ve moved back to SF since, and have since grown to embrace the frozen vegetable, and happily purchase them.

  50. YES! This post means so much me HAHA – as someone who was raised by parents who have an abundant vegetable garden every year, and who exclusively buy fresh veggies (a childhood I’m well aware is privileged for this reason & for which I’m exceedingly thankful), I feel a tinge of shame grabbing a bag of frozen produce. I dare not tell my mom! But the fact is, they’re super convenient and most do take pretty darn fresh! Only over the past month or so have I started to let go of this freezer aisle shame and embrace it instead (my time & bank account are expanding). This post could not be more timely for me, lol, thank you!!

  51. anne says...

    As a single human who lives alone, and still wants to eat vegetables, frozen veggies are a total lifesaver. I really don’t want to end up wasting a lot of food, but with just me to feed I feel like I would always end up with some very sad vegetables that would end up in the compost bin. Learning that you could roast frozen broccoli was a game changer for my dinner game as well, as that is by far my favorite way to eat broccoli.

    My plan this past summer was to join a community garden at my workplace (HA!), but hopefully that will be back next summer. At that point, I’d really love to be able to freeze my own produce too! If anyone has any tips for freezing/preserving produce that you grow, I’d love to hear!

    • b says...

      I wholeheartedly agree. I don’t live alone (yet) but I’m the only veggie eater in my household and frozen veggies mean I’m not eating veggies for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.

  52. Rachel says...

    It’s also worth mentioning that frozen vegetables are BETTER than they were 30 years, 40 years ago. We ate them a lot when I was a kid, and they were fine, but they are so much ‘fresher’ tasting these days.
    Frozen peas are my fave, followed by frozen green beans.

  53. SN says...

    Frozen vegetables are LIFE in my kitchen, especially with a 16-month-old. We try to give her variety and vegetables with every meal… and having lots of frozen vegetables on hand is the easiest way to do that. We literally pour out a portion, heat it up and voila — part of her meal, complete. If she wants more peas & carrots? Easy to heat up more. Not feeling Brussel sprouts tonight? Fine — I only made a small portion, so we’re not wasting a ton or putting in tons of extra effort for something she might not be feeling. Plus when she was a bit younger, frozen veggies were SO EASY when we were making purees.

    Sure we give her lots of fresh veggies, but I honestly bow down to the frozen veggie Gods for making mealtime with a small kid easy.

    • Christine says...

      My toddler used to eat the veggies frozen! A quarter cup of frozen peas in a bowl was a lifesaver and she considered them a treat, as they came from the same place ice cream did. LOL.

  54. GF says...

    Like with many other topics on sustainability/environmentalism, as others have mentioned, the changes that need to happen need to be wide scale, corporation ones. All of that weight for change should not be placed on the individual and that’s exactly how corporations avoid changes. It also gets very ableist and classist (and racist) to just assume that all people can make such changes. I’m all for sustainability and I do what I can, but as a person who can’t cut or peel vegetables some days, frozen veggies let me eat healthy and get a good meal into my body. In some of my nearby neighborhoods the closest supermarket might be a dollar store and they might not have fresh fruits or veggies. Or those might be out of the price range for some people. Or they might not be what’s handed out at the food pantry. Individuals can certainly change, but individuals who choose to buy frozen veggies are not the end all be all of climate change here.

    • Aimee says...

      Preach. Not going to shame folks who are trying to get veggies in their diets!

  55. GF says...

    I’m all for sustainability and do my best where I can, but to say folks shouldnt use frozen veggies (or straws or pre cut and wrapped fruits or veggies or paper plates or the list goes on and on) is wildly ableist (and can be classist in places where fresh fruits and veggies aren’t available or people don’t have access to clean water or a million other things). As someone with an illness that sometimes affects my abilities to cut or peel food and affects my energy levels, frozen veggies are a lifesaver. They let me eat well and have access to food I wouldn’t have otherwise. This needs to be a corporation wide policy, these changes. It’s a lot bigger than individuals and while I agree that individuals can make changes to blanket statement say that we need to do better and to go after individuals fails to take into account so many things.

    • Amrita says...

      Thank you for sharing this, I did not consider it from this lens until now.

  56. Emma says...

    I love having a bag of frozen spinach on hand – it makes it SO much easier to incorporate greens on a daily basis. I tossed some in savory oatmeal with parm, evoo, salt and flax seeds this morning; a smoothie the other day; and will probably use the rest in some leftover soup this week. Love these other ideas!

  57. Kate says...

    This is my favorite hack for boxed meals like mac and cheese. On nights when I just can’t, I throw an entire bag of frozen peas or broccoli in the pot at the end of the pasta’s cooking time. Drain everything together and add cheese sauce. My kids eat it up (see: covered in cheese).

    • katie says...

      My boxed meal hack is similar. If it’s a crazy week and I just can’t, I make boxed mac and cheese, add some frozen broccoli and top off with a can of tuna and a dash of hot sauce. It’s my version of tuna noodle casserole and it’s delicious.

  58. Joy says...

    Frozen peas are a staple in my house, throw them into pasta with a vegan cream sauce and it makes me feel better serving up just pasta for dinner.

    Frozen avocados have been life changing for the smoothie routine,

    Frozen broccoli, just like fresh, roasted with olive oil and salt and pepper.

    But, most of all-making lots of soups, stews and curries in the winter and frozen veggies save the day. Madhur Jaffrey’s potato and green bean curry-OH MY! The BEST on a cold night.

  59. Anna says...

    Frozen vegetables are a dinner lifeline! Recently, I discovered frozen fajita mix- sliced red and green peppers and onions. Great in soup or stir fry or even, presumably, fajitas ; )

  60. Kelly says...

    Sam Sifton’s no recipe fried rice has been a go to pandemic lunch for us – make extra rice at dinner, use any leftover meat in fridge and add in some california blend frozen veggies!

  61. Sarah says...

    Love frozen veggies too but have always questioned the validity of the “frozen at peak freshness” bit. Corporate/industrial food companies are always pulling a fast one one us, providing the absolute cheapest options whenever possible, so not sure I believe this “fact” (that I’ve read often, not just here!). I highly doubt the Green Giant “farmers” are out there eyeing every green bean thinking mmmmm this looks perfect – set it aside for freezing!

    • Sarah says...

      We have a farmer in the family the company he sells to decides whether the produce will be sold fresh or frozen in advance. If frozen it is usually done onsite.

    • Emma says...

      Sarah, while I totally get not trusting corporate/industrial food companies, the claims about frozen produce being frozen at ‘peak freshness’ actually make sense from practical and economic standpoints. First of all, if produce isn’t ready or is past peak when it’s harvested and frozen, you would notice the difference (in the frozen product). Secondly, freezing is a minimal form of processing that allows the vendor to market the product for a much longer period of time than they would be able to if they sold it fresh. For some products such as peas, there isn’t a huge fresh pea market at all–when people are buying fresh peas, they’re typically buying different varieties of peas than the ones that get frozen anyway, and they’re buying them from much smaller producers who are closer to where the product is being sold. There’s no benefit to Green Giant to freeze a product that is not at its peak–doing so reduces the shelf-life of the product, and would be a noticeably inferior product anyway.

      You SHOULD be skeptical about out-of-season ‘fresh’ produce, because the varieties that are grown for grocery stores are typically bred to have a long shelf life and transport well with few cosmetic blemishes–they are certainly not bred for nutrition or taste. For instance grocery store tomatoes are often picked completely green and ripened artificially. By contrast, crops that are predestined for the frozen veggie life can be varieties that do not have to be as cosmetically perfect or have an extensive shelf life.

    • Susannah says...

      My understanding is that most frozen veg would be processed at time of glut of harvest when too much to sell fresh. So not that the best veg in the plot gets chosen to be frozen, though I like your image lol! Just there’s too much to sell in peak harvest times when the fresh market is saturated. I think Jenny is comparing the “fresh” veg outside of peak harvest times as inferior to the peak frozen stuff.

    • Anu says...

      I have bought underripe supposedly ripe frozen mangos (trader joe’s) and underripe frozen pineapple. Not to speak of definitely very underripe blackberries, still red. Most vegetables have a longer perfect state window, I think that’s why it is easier to have those at peak ripeness.

  62. Alyce says...

    I am 100% on team frozen vegetable. Frozen broccoli and cauliflower are amazing straight out of the bag and sauteed in olive oil until deeply browned. Cauliflower in particular cooked this way is better than candy. Not exaggerating at all. Also am a big fan of a mixing frozen mushrooms, onion/pepper mixes (TJs has a good one), with fresh spinach, canned black beans, and Dodoni Feta for a fantastic and fast filling for an omelet. And Cascadian Farms has a good mirepoix mix that saves so much time as a soup base. My husband snacks on frozen shelled edamame, and my toddler is a huge fan of slightly warmed frozen peas and frozen blueberries. Team frozen veggies for the win!

  63. Nicole says...

    I’m happy you posted this, and I’m looking forward to reading through how people are using frozen veg. I LOVE roasted veggies (mainly broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels) and cook them almost nightly. I am dreading this winter as my CSA has obviously stopped having all these available. I just cannot seem to find a way to roast these veggies from frozen and have them taste halfway decent. But, maybe I just need to find new ways to cook them…?

    • mims says...

      I put frozen veggies in a bowl on counter at breakfast, by dinner they are defrosted and I gently squeeze as much water out of them as I can, toss with spices (harissa, sumac, garlic and onion powder, whatev) then I air fry them. I use my air fryer almost daily, so it was a wise investment for me, your mileage may vary. I like zucchini, broccoli, butternut squash, califlower this way. Maybe not perfect, but pretty good. Also: okra is good too…with some spicy cornmeal to coat …you cannot really squeeze this one prior…

    • marcella says...

      I also had this question, whenever I roast frozen broccoli it doesn’t roast as well because it’s still kind of soggy? but I guess I need to actually defrost it.. oops!

    • Sarah says...

      The key is to roast them for longer at a high temperature. A bag of frozen broccoli or cauliflower roasted at 425 for at least 45 minutes to close hour will come out perfect. Do not let them semi defrost, as then they will be soggy, rather get them in the oven straight from
      the freezer. Make sure they are spread out nicely on a sheet pan and use enough oil.

    • Alyssa says...

      You can roast frozen! High heat (400F), spread out well on the baking sheet, for about 30 mins, stirring at some point. Game changer when I figured that out! No need to thaw.

  64. Jumping on Hilary’s comment re: Trader Joe’s!

    I know that a lot of people hate on Trader Joe’s due to their excessive amount of packaging (I struggle with that issue too ) – but one thing Trader Joe’s does, at least in NYC, is a Neighborhood Shares program. I run a community fridge in Chelsea and they donate all of their unsellable, but still good food (too close to the sell by date, slightly bruised apples, etc) to non-profits and other community organizations throughout the city that would otherwise just be tossed. We are able to completely fill our fridge with this food and in turn help feed our neighbors. I’ve spoken to MANY grocery stores in the area to get them to donate (there is no liability for stores/people who donate as long as it is in good faith, there are federal and state laws protecting this), and from that and also just by walking by on trash day, the vast majority simply toss out their items on the curb, as there is no direct incentive for stores (or individuals) to do otherwise – besides saving the environment and helping the community, but let’s be honest, many people don’t see those as directly affecting them.

    So, just wanted to make that comment in regards to food waste, as our fridge takes any potential waste (frozen, fresh, prepared foods, or anything that aligns with our guidelines and respecting our neighbors) that is still edible and I’m very passionate about combatting food waste – in addition to feeding the community! There are many ways to contribute to food waste and many ways to combat it and we’re all doing what we can.

    • Brittany says...

      Hi Lea – I live in Chelsea and would love to support a community fridge! How can I find you to provide support?

    • Lea says...

      Hi Brittany! We’re @thechelseafridge on Instagram – send us a DM!

    • Megan says...

      Yes! My boys and I volunteer at the local food bank and some weeks much of what we pass out is fancy Trader Joe’s food. The DIGNITY of receiving the fancy yogurts and snacks makes me tear up every time.

  65. Ellen E says...

    Smitten Kitchen’s broccoli parmesean fritter recipe https://smittenkitchen.com/2012/06/broccoli-parmesan-fritters/ works well adapted for frozen, and it doesn’t even have to be broccoli! It is a standard starting point in our house. I’ve also been well known to stir a large amount of frozen spinach into a store bought jar of masala sauce, serve with rice and call it a meal :)
    We bought a box freezer for the basement to freeze farmers market veggies all summer long and it totally gets us through the winter!

  66. Beth says...

    Oooooo this is such a good idea. I just made a double batch of Anna Thomas’s green soup with 4 bunches of kale and holy crap would it have been easier with frozen bags of greens. Lol…

  67. Mims says...

    Agreed, corporations need to get busy developing biodegradable packaging…and I believe it is happening, just not fast enough, or the financial incentive has not been large enough. Hopefully we can see meaningful change in this issue during the Democratic administration as part of an overall climate change/green living movement. That said, I live in Seattle and local veggies are winter scarcity, so I use frozen veg and save any non-recyclable container with a lid and cram as many plastic bags as I can into them and then put in the garbage. We compost and recycle fanatically, so our garbage consists of mostly plastic and doing this dramatically reduces the volume, such that I only take the garbage can to the curb once a month.

    My favorite recipe: Slow cooker Lebanese green beans

    In the morning, add to your crockpot:
    one chopped onion
    3-4 gloves garlic, minced
    one large bag of frozen green beans
    1-2 cans of tomato sauce, depending on how saucy you like things
    1 Tbsp of lebanese seven spice mix (equal parts allspice, black pepper, ground cloves, cinnamon, fenugreek, nutmeg, ginger) OR 1/2 tsp each black pepper, cinnamon, ginger…the allspice and cloves can be too much for some…but I LOVE it!
    OR…go for a different flavor profile and add cumin, coriander, cardamom, smoked paprika.
    Start off on high for 1-3 hours, when you see the mixture is bubbling, turn heat down to low and let slowly braise till dinner.
    The braising breaks down the beans into a lovely texture.

    Goes great with mid-eastern mezze: chickpeas, babganoush, etc., rice, bulgar, big green salad, etc. Accessorize as you will.

  68. Best easy dinner: baked potato topped with butter, sour cream, and lots of mixed frozen vegetables that have been microwaved with a bit of soy sauce.

  69. Kate says...

    I am a huge aficionado of the bags of pre-chopped onions (workhorse of my kitchen) and the frozen spinach that comes in ice cube-sized portions rather than the big slabs.

    • Kathleen says...

      My fave frozen kitchen veggie! No tears and speeds up dinner considerably.

  70. Stephanie says...

    As far as my boys are concerned, it’s called macaroni and cheese and spinach. Ha!

    When I need a quick, kid-tested/mother-approved meal, I open up a box of Annie’s Mac and Cheese, add frozen spinach to the boiling water with the noodles, salt it up real nice and continue as directed.

    Works every time! ;)

  71. Kara says...

    I’ll add frozen beets to the list, put into the oven to roast straight from the freezer after being tossed with oil and salt! (This method works great with broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, too.) I actually prefer beets roasted this way over roasted from fresh, so much so that I often chop and freeze fresh beets in my post-grocery prep. They end up moist and caramelized.

    Echoing another commenter that my kids love eating peas and corn still frozen. Crunchy, cold, and sweet, what’s not to love!

  72. Like Courtney, I no longer shop for my own food (I’m “elderly”) due to COVID. After so many shopper mistakes (cilantro is not parsley), limp cucumbers, and bags of moldy green beans (who would choose them?), I finally decided to order frozen green beans. They were delicious. I always have frozen spinach and peas on hand, but now feel like broadening my horizons. Great post – thank you.

  73. Stephani says...

    I want to love frozen veggies but they always wind up so limp and wet and i feel clueless as to how to prepare them? Even if i thaw under warm water and pat dry it’s just a disaster. Any tips to revive life in them?

    • Andrea says...

      Yes, soggy and freezing does something to the texture and taste. Not my fave.

      I wonder if the vegetables from Picard in France are better?

    • Cecile says...

      Same here! I can see all the theoretically good things about frozen vegetables, but apart from peas, their taste and texture always disappoints me so much, even when I add them to curries or soups. If there’s no time for fresh vegetables, I prefer a cheese sandwich with pickled vegetables on the side, or a hotdog with saurkraut, or a salad of canned beans and beets (the latter we can buy peeled, steamed & sealed in the fresh produce section in practically every Belgian supermarket: great fast option).

  74. rosemarie says...

    I swear the steam in the bag frozen vegetables are a game changer for getting toddlers/kids their vegetables. They aren’t mush, but they are soft enough for kids to eat and super duper easy to get on the table or add to anything else you are making.

  75. Maddy says...

    My 3 year old will ONLY eat frozen vegetables. We get the chopped broccoli bits or corn and she chows down on them straight from the freezer. She also usually prefers frozen berries, banana chunks, mango, or cherries.

  76. Ramya says...

    Our standard go-to vegetable when I don’t have the energy for anything else is frozen broccoli. I boil it for 3 minutes and serve it with Maldon salt. 7-yo loves it!

  77. AG says...

    My mom used to serve a little bowl of still frozen peas to us as a dessert after dinner. We LOVED it and I still do! 🤣 I think of it as the healthier Dippion’ Dots.

    I use frozen veggies all the time in our cooking from smoothies to soups! This is not totally on topic but one of my favorite food hacks is to freeze all my (usually fresh) veggie scraps in a ziplock bag and when it’s full, make vegetable stock in the pressure cooker.

    • Beth says...

      Frozen peas for the win! I served still-frozen peas to my young kids! I probably stopped when they were about 12, but they have good memories of it, like you do. Probably because I served them in small ramekins, so it seemed special. They’re in their 20s now.

  78. Casey says...

    Spinach, peas, and cauliflower are my frozen veg staples.

    A handful of cauliflower in my smoothies is a game changer!

    • Meg says...

      Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of this! What do you like about cauliflower in your smoothie? I’m on a smoothie for breakfast kick, and definitely looking for some ways to switch things up.

    • Casey says...

      Meg — I like that it adds an easy serving of veg in the morning, adds creaminess with no flavor, and makes it cold if I am using a fresh banana as opposed to frozen. Good luck and report back!

  79. Michaela says...

    My children love to eat frozen vegetables still frozen. They ask for them every day! It seems gross to me but I’m not going to yuck on their yum.

    • J says...

      It’s not just your kids. One of my college roommates loved snacking on frozen veggies while drunk – hah! These days she’s a badass mid-30s adult who still loves this snack, and I think she’s passed on the habit to her kid.

  80. Kristiana says...

    I love to take TJs frozen riced cauliflower and combine it with their frozen quinoa duo in a pan, add chopped chicken and then a handful of frozen kale/spinach. Add cumin, garlic, paprika, s&p and call it dinner 😋

  81. celeste says...

    I have purchased zoodles, and we like doing corn with canned black beans for burritos and salads. I do frozen spinach in frittatas and stuffed pastas. I would not have thought to buy kale and do not know how to prep fresh kale so that would be an option.

  82. karen justnes says...

    I love roasting frozen broccoli florets straight from the freezer. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, toss with olive oil and salt, then spread evenly. Roast at 400 for 15 minutes or so, then stir and roast until your desired level of crispiness.

  83. Cady says...

    Tip from a toddler mom: when you make dinner and the food is too hot for the kiddo, stir in a handful of frozen veggies (peas, corn, and carrots work really well) to help cool things really quickly without watering them down, plus you get a boost of veggies and nutrients! My 2 year old will say things are too hot and tell me to “add peas, peez, mommy!”

    • Emily says...

      so smart! love this idea.

    • Lynn says...

      I love you! I see sweet corn maple oats in my toddler’s future.

    • Rachel says...

      Amazing tip, I will tell my sister (for my sweet nephew!)
      And I’ll use this myself.

    • Robin says...

      Brilliant!

  84. Hilary says...

    Love frozen veggies! They’ve really cut down on our food waste, and I love that we can have such a variety.

    Smoothies: Spinach, avocado, riced cauliflower (keeps the smoothie bright pink or purple which my kid loves!)
    Soups: Mirepoix, peas
    Stir fry: edamame, peppers, onions, carrots, green beans
    Quesadillas/tacos/burrito bowls: chopped peppers, onions, and corn.

  85. Courtney Cooper says...

    I have been leaning so hard on frozen veggies during Covid, since I do curbside pickup for groceries. *Sigh* looking forward to casually perusing the produce isles again one day. But in the meantime, we’re loving frozen riced cauliflower scrambled with eggs and scallions, topped with sharp cheddar cheese and hot sauce or everything seasoning… my kids think it’s potatoes :) Can’t wait to check back and steal more tips from other readers!

  86. Anne says...

    Frozen butternut squash! Because who has time to peel, then chop (ok wrestle) that thing. Yummy in soup.

    Now if only I could figure out how to drain frozen spinach? I usually find myself with a colander and 100 paper towels trying to get all the water out. There must be a better way?!

    • Ell says...

      I drain a small portion at a time by pressing the water out through a mug-sized tea strainer. A wire mesh strainer works similarly but is harder to clean.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I just place the frozen spinach in a strainer/colander and run warm water over it until it has thawed. THEN, using my hands, I just squeeze and squeeze and squeeze. Sorry if that sounds really wonky and technical! :)

    • K says...

      I just keep pressing it down in the colander with my hands until the liquid’s gone.

    • JN says...

      I’m no expert but I’ll put frozen spinach in cheesecloth, run it under cool water until its soft, and then squeeze out the water with my hand.

    • Ana D says...

      I never even thought of draining frozen spinach! Probably because I always eat it cooked, and I put it in the sauté pan still frozen. Just did it last night. Brought me great joy.

    • Anu says...

      Precut butternut squash is amazing! I prefer it to the frozen stuff, at least if you can get it before it becomes mushy.

    • ellen says...

      I’ve always used my ricer for squeezing out water from large amounts of defrosted frozen or even fresh cooked spinach.
      Works great and you don’t loose any this way.

    • Kate W says...

      I wrap the spinach in a clean dish towel and ring it out.

    • Rebecca says...

      Would a potato ricer work? I use it for squeezing the water out of zucchini when making zucchini fritters.

    • Rebecca says...

      Would a potato ricer work? I use it for squeezing the water out of shredded zucchini when i make zucchini fritters.

    • Kelly says...

      i use frozen spinach all the time without draining, particularly if it’s going in soup or something liquidy where extra water won’t matter.

    • Helene says...

      I use the thaw function on my microwawe oven ,then squeeze the excess water out by hand. There’s a risk of bacteria in warm tap water, so would never use that in food.

  87. Bonnie says...

    Never apologetic about using any form of veggies we’re fortunate to have in our kitchen! A favorite is frozen green beans steamed/cooked however is easier that day, then sauteed a bit with some garlic and a whole lot of black pepper. Can add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, too.

  88. Awads says...

    I buy those exact same bags of vegetables! Last night, I tossed frozen peas into a pot with egg noodles that were almost done cooking, drained them, and added butter for a nice side dish to grilled meat. The previous night, i cooked up some Greek shrimp (tomatoes, feta) and added thawed frozen spinach. I also keep frozen broccoli on-hand for a pasta-Italian sausage dish. There are so many possibilities.

  89. Caitlin says...

    Yes!! Thank you for this ode to frozen veggies! As someone who works hard to preserve/freeze my summer bounty every year, I hate when people hate on frozen vegetables! They are delicious, inspiring in the dead of winter and make dinner so much easier! I freeze chopped zucchini every year and it’s wonderful pulling out a bag and plopping it in a pan with some basting oil (the water cooks out and it gets crispy). I have to hold myself back from having using up all my frozen green beans immediately…my husband makes a magical sauteed frozen green bean (again, straight from freezer to pan) with a lemon vermouth sauce! I also freeze whole cherry tomatoes and toss them in with soup, stews, beans, pasta haha I could go on and on!! Loved this post!

  90. D says...

    Wow. You made me visualize whirled peas for a second there. What a great way to start the year. Thanks!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      hahaha

  91. Jill says...

    Yes!! Frozen spinach is one of the silent heroes of my kitchen. I’d also add to that list frozen edamame. As a vegetarian I’m often looking to amp up the protein content of meals. Cooking with fresh edamame means time-consuming shelling and boiling. But my local supermarket sells bags of pre-shelled frozen edamame – I just toss it in at the end of a stirfry for a couple of minutes and voila!

    • Kate says...

      Yes! My local grocery chain carries frozen mirepoix. I can’t even express how much time (and bags of rotting celery) it has saved me.

  92. Ellen says...

    We just came around to the beauty of frozen, chopped kale for use in easy weeknight soups! Cleaning and chopping fresh kale is sooo tedious and time consuming, and the frozen kind is chopped better (smaller) than I do anyway. Highly recommend! We do a simple mirepoix of onion/carrot/celery, add broth and simmer, and add drained/rinsed canned white beans and the frozen chopped kale, serve with hearty multigrain bread & butter.

  93. Jennie says...

    I’m also a huge frozen vegetable fan!! I discovered them as a new mom – so easy to keep a bunch of frozen fruit and veg in the freezer to blend into baby food. You can make just the right amount, mix-and-match, and always have something healthy on hand. Also, my teething-toddler loved snacking on cold peas straight from the freezer – my favorite tip for new parents. :)

    • Ana D says...

      Yes! And I love that I can still have a wide variety of vegetables in the house without having to keep a mental tally of how long the kale has been sitting in the veggie drawer. Baby parenting has enough cognitive load on its own without fresh vegetable management.

  94. Alicia says...

    Frozen veggies are also super handy for my toddler’s daycare lunch. I’ll pull out 5 green beans or a handful of peas the night before and toss in his lunch container, and they’re thawed and ready to go by morning (he’s happy to eat them plain, at least for now).

    • Meagan says...

      We still do this in elementary school…now we just add a little salt. Frozen peas FTW. Though now I might steal some and make that pea spread!

    • varina says...

      Frozen vegetables are THE way I feel remotely ok about my daughter’s diet. She exists on a steady intake of pasta, bread, and cheese…plus what we affectionately call “green goop.” Bag of frozen veggies + can of white beans + big scoop of pesto (I make huge batches with my summer basil in ice cube trays that I defrost over the year) + whatever leftover roasted veggies or beans or rice in the fridge + a good dose of olive oil – I fear the day (like my son) she will star refusing it.

  95. Eloise says...

    Frozen peas just made it to my shopping list. I don’t cook (at all) but even I can make them as suggested above – yum!

  96. M.S. says...

    I can appreciate the convenience and taste of frozen veggies, but it seems that 2021 is the year we take our awareness one step further––to the environmental impact of all the non-recyclable packaging involved. These plastic bags end up sitting in landfills or floating in oceans. We can do better. We must do better. Much love from a longggggg-time COJ reader <3

    • Jill says...

      eh, of all the environmental issues to pick on, I’d think packaged frozen veggies is not at the top of the list. The greenhouse gases from food waste are a huge environmental problem in itself, and frozen veggies play some part in stopping this waste. Agree we must all do better – but we’re all starting from difference places too!

    • Catie says...

      As a kid, my mom was always buying the Green Giant frozen veggies in cardboard packaging. It might not keep things quite as fresh as the plastic bags, but it’s a nice alternative for folks who want to avoid plastic packaging altogether.

      I will say I often struggle with this. The nice thing about frozen veggies is always having something on hand to make dinner with, which avoids a) the food waste of not being able to use something before it goes bad, b) running to the store by car if it’s not in walking distance, or c) odering take-out/having food delivered/driving to pick something up if it’s not in walking distance, etc.

      I think it’s important that we’re all aware of the waste that we create and the energy we consume across the board, and thinking about sustainable ways (sustainable in terms of practices we can repeat consistently) to cut down on them. I also think it’s important to remember that, while we can and should all do our part, the vast majority of harmful emissions and waste are produced by massive, massive corporations. If frozen veggies in plastic packaging are a sustainable way for your family to save money, spend less time/emissions driving to the store or having things delivered, and avoid food waste, then voting with your wallet or advocating for corporations to cut down on their massive contributions to pollutions seems like a great way to make a contribution to protecting our environment as a trade-off.

    • celeste says...

      Is there an alternative out there we should know about?

    • Hilary says...

      MS-

      I appreciate your point about the environmental impact. I feel like my impact is better with frozen veggies because I don’t have to worry about food waste, which is also a major issue. Perhaps people can get fresh produce and freeze it themselves? I know I often chop fruit to freeze for smoothies or put extra veggies in the freezer for later. Or maybe an increase in frozen veggie purchases will encourage companies considering how to improve packaging? I know Trader Joe’s made efforts to improve their packaging after consumer pressure.

    • Laura says...

      I appreciate this comment but wonder about the environmental impact of shipping fresh vegetables across the country (or across borders), during the winter when there’s nothing available locally? If I lived in California, sure, I’d shop for fresh veggies year-round, but our CSA ends in October, and the ground is frozen for more of the year than it isn’t. I mean this in the most sincere way possible, but what do you suggest as an alternative for folks who want to eat vegetables in the winter and avoid plastic? (On a side note I’d also argue that frozen veggies might create less food waste, since you’re able to use only as much as you need at a time, but maybe that’s just me!)

    • Ana D says...

      This needs to be a policy level change. Companies need to be held responsible for their packaging and waste outputs. This can’t be put wholly and solely on consumers.

      I fully support any movement towards policy change with packaging and plastics. And I reject any models that put the onus on the working poor and middle class to solve downstream issues caused by upstream corporation environmental disregard and carelessness.

    • Kara says...

      Amen, Ana D! (And also completely agree, Laura.) Let’s spend this kind of commenting energy commenting at our elected officials to get corporations to fix the problem.

    • M.S. says...

      Wow I really appreciate this discussion! It is certainly not on the working class––the majority of the population––to change the motives, actions or inaction of corporations. Nor should people feeding their families have to endure some sort of ethical calculus.

      What some of us who have the means to make tiny flexible decisions can do is exercise awareness and nudge demand. For example, we can buy frozen peas in paper containers that can be recycled. Some of those giant corporations that produce the majority of emissions include plastic producers, and corporations do respond to consumer pressure when profits are on the line.

      At the end of the day, I am all for frozen veggies! I appreciate the responses here.

    • Katie says...

      Laura brings up an excellent point about local vegetables vs. “fresh” produce that comes across country or from another country.

      I’ve always preferred shopping farmers markets and eating fresh, local produce. Because of covid, we signed up for a CSA that lasted from June through December. Where I live, it’s really hard to make sustainable, healthy food choices that leave the smallest footprint in the winter months. I do a lot more stews and root vegetable dishes and I buy greens from the local, vertical farm.

    • Samantha says...

      if the frozen food is packaged in a cardboard box, that box more than likely has a plastic lining on it, meaning it cannot be recycled in single stream recycling (much like a starbucks cup.)

    • Emma says...

      Yes let’s take awareness one step further… I don’t love the plastic packaging of many frozen veggies either, but out of all of humanity’s sins? I think a lot of people would be appalled by how much plastic is used on organic farms to make the economics work–we need vast, systemic change to our agricultural systems, and quite frankly freezing vegetables is one of the most minimal forms of processing–it’s likely to retain more of the nutrients of the raw food compared to canned goods, and can be done with no additives (again unlike canned goods). In comparison to fresh vegetables that are shipped long distances, more perishable (and more nutritious) varieties can be grown and fewer harvested products can be wasted through sitting on shelves too long or rotting in transit. Putting the burden on individual people/families–which, let’s face it, typically means more work (and guilt) for WOMEN–is not fair or helpful. I’ve been a small-scale organic farmer and frozen veggies are where it’s at. Frozen veggies are also, for many people, by far the best way to economically add veggies into your diet–they’re dramatically cheaper than fresh, have already had a lot of the prep work done, produce no food waste on the consumer side, and are easy to purchase with SNAP, WIC and other food benefits (as compared to fresh produce, which is dramatically more expensive even in the grocery store, and can be more complex to purchase at market, or ineligible for benefits depending on the local farmers market situation).

      There are other ways to approach the packaging issues. Better waste management would make a huge difference–composting is a great way to handle many forms of waste, but a lot of the forms of “compostable” packaging only decompose in industrial composting facilities, which are not commonly available (especially not for free–there are a lot of composting operations picking up in urban areas, but typically you pay a monthly service fee, which again disenfranchises lower income people from making this choice). Most municipalities in the US have not really figured out recycling, especially now that China will not take nearly as much of our stuff, so while recycling may feel better at the consumer end, it’s not that much better than throwing stuff in the landfill if those systems aren’t in place. Refillable containers work for some items but are a much heavier lift on the consumer end, particularly given other issues–for instance, it may be easy for someone with a personal vehicle to bring a bunch of mason jars to their “local bulk store,” but for someone who has to make multiple bus connections to get to the closest grocery store, which likely doesn’t have bulk goods anyway, that’s a completely unrealistic idea.

    • S.M. says...

      Virtue signaling M.S. and all the commenters. Admit it y’all.