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Frozen food – and how it can bring your weekly food bill down

There is a lot of stigma about Frozen food – is it packed with sugars and additives? Can it provide a balanced diet? Will it cost more than fresh food? Will it be tasteless and unappetising?

This week we wanted to debunk the myths and find out for ourselves, so three people in our team prepared a number of meals using frozen food. Here’s what they found.

Frozen veg was a real success. Often it’s prepared already (chopped or sealed in individual portions) and it tasted pretty good. One of our team who is a busy mum of 3 loved the frozen mash – it proved to be a great time saver. Most frozen veg isn’t usually packed with added sugar and salt, but check the packaging. It’s an urban myth that frozen veg doesn’t contain as many vitamins as fresh veg. Frozen vegetables get picked when they are at their freshest, washed and blanched within the hour, locking in all the goodness. Fresh vegetables, on the other hand, can be stored for weeks before you buy them which can result in vitamin loss.

Frozen fruit can often be a bit mushy and wasn’t a hugely popular option for the people in the team who liked it on their cereals or to eat it separately, but it worked well on yoghurt or in smoothies. The summer berries were considerably cheaper than buying fresh and you can eat them all year round. As with the veg, they are extremely nutritious.

One of the biggest advantages to frozen fruit and veg was that because it is often pre-chopped there was a lot less wastage – you could take exactly what you needed and leave the rest for another time. It lasts a lot longer too, so no more rotting foods in cupboards and fridges.

Our team also tried the frozen pre-made meals but these seemed to contain a lot of additives, sugar and salt. Unless you bought the premium options, containing food like wholegrains, quinoa, sweet potatoes and kale, which were more expensive. They were a handy option when time is particularly tight, but overall they wouldn’t recommend these all the time, as you wouldn’t get a balanced diet.

There is a stigma about frozen meat – some people believe it’s dangerous to eat. In actual fact the freezing process can reduce harmful bacteria. It’s the thawing process that can be harmful, but as long as you store the meat correctly and follow the directions for thawing and cooking, there is nothing to worry about. The main thing is you cook it to the recommended temperature. Our team found most of the frozen meats to be tasty. The steak discarded a lot of water but the end product was flavoursome.

All three people were amazed at how much cheaper frozen produce was – one of our team members said she saved around 40% compared to what she would have spent on fresh food. They all agreed shopping at Iceland was the most economical shop they could find for good quality frozen food.

You can also buy in bulk and if you have a chest freezer you can store extra bits and pieces for those emergencies.

The general consensus from our team was that whilst they missed some of the flavours of fresh food – particularly the meats, in future they will definitely buy more frozen food in combination with tins and fresh, to get their weekly food budget down without compromising on quality.

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