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Did you know that frozen meals, especially fruits, and vegetables, now tend to have more nutrients than fresh produce? This is because they are frozen at their peak of freshness and have successfully preserved most of their innate nutrients thanks to the ever-advancing technologies and equipment currently prevalent in the frozen foods industry. On the other hand, fresh products have actually decreased in nutrition levels even before they hit the local stores.
This makes it so that purchasing frozen products instead of fresh produce has become more popular than ever before —- for both health and money reasons. That being said, there is no denying that things get a bit boring with frozen foods after a while. Just put them in the microwave, wait a moment, and pop them right out to dig in. Convenient and fast but ultimately bland.
This conundrum made us think: How do we make frozen foods more interesting? How can we spice them up to make them more exciting? Lucky for you, we have the answer to that right here! Read on as we share some tips on how you can spice up frozen foods without the use of a microwave.
An interesting and somewhat concerning thing to consider when looking for new ways to prepare or cook frozen meats is if you are willing to take the risk of leaving them in a slow cooker. Many people have done it and claim that they have done so safely, while some are still skeptical.
Basically, slow cookers don’t reliably get the frozen meat to the proper temperature. This, in turn, exposes the meat for a longer period in the supposed ‘danger zone,’ 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, where bacteria becomes active again and has the opportunity to grow.
As interesting as cooking frozen meat using slow cookers may be, it is definitely not recommended for inexperienced cooks.
Instead, we recommend you throw frozen chicken, pork, beef, or whatever into the pan straight out of the freezer. However, do make sure that you are doing it properly. Here is how:
Use a good amount of oil when you cook frozen meats, including fish. This ensures that you oppose the amount of time the food has spent in the cold. Generally, the longer the food has frozen, the more oil you should use. Once you have heated the oil, sear the meat on both sides for about a minute and a half. After that, place it on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at about 275 degrees Fahrenheit. That is it!
However, if you want less oil involved, try using an air fryer instead. Speaking of air fryers, we also have a list of the best frozen foods that are best cooked in the air fryer that may interest you.
If you want, you can add some frozen vegetables to the mix. Just cook them with the rest of the meal, preferably on the same pan you cooked the frozen meat to have a more profound flavor.
Everyone loves experimenting with frozen fruits as not only are they extremely versatile, but they are also super easy to handle and can be kept for a long while. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of ways to make frozen fruits more interesting is to use them as ingredients for a healthy and satisfying smoothie. However, you can do a whole lot more than just that.
Try incorporating some berries with your frozen fruits into a blender along with a couple of teaspoons of milk, preferably almond milk, as it has significantly more calcium and much lesser fat per serving than conventional whole milk, and try making a thick puree instead.
After a moment in the blender, pour the mixture into a bowl and use it as a base for dried fruits, nuts, flax, hemp seeds, or chia seeds, and you have yourself a tasty and healthy breakfast meal.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a more streamlined or quicker way to add spice to your frozen fruits, try thawing them partially while you get ready for work in the early morning. Once properly thawed, throw them into greek yogurt, and eat it as you make your way to work.
Lastly, if you are looking for a more fun but definitely less-healthy way to use the frozen fruits in your freezer, we recommend adding alcohol to the mix. Throw some frozen fruit into your mixed drinks in place of ice cubes so as to not water down your vodka mix. Strawberries and grapes work best here.
Smaller fruits, such as raspberries, may prove tastier, but they tend to disperse as they warm up in the drink. This makes your drink less cool and may even clog up your straw, leading to frustration.
More and more people lean more towards frozen vegetables instead of their fresh counterparts because it makes their life ultimately easier. After all, who wouldn’t want to cook things all at once instead of making one thing first and waiting for something else entirely to cook? Frozen vegetables give you that luxury.
Frozen veggies can be thrown alongside the meat pot to cook them simultaneously. This is great, especially for impatient or busy cooks, as you don’t have to defrost whatever’s frozen. You can simply leave it for a while to simmer while you do something else. Perhaps doing laundry, extra work, or a quick shower.
Bring approximately one cup of chicken broth and a half cup of water to a boil and dump all your ingredients into one pot. Lower the heat to a simmer, and keep it on until all the meat is thoroughly cooked.
You can also add extra ingredients if you want, perhaps rice or other grains; just make sure that you cook it for about ten minutes before adding so. It is the broth that adds a rich flavor to the vegetables and is what ultimately makes them exciting.
It is also worth noting that just because they are frozen does it mean that you cannot roast vegetables in the oven. Say that you are in a rush and want to skip the entire defrosting process. Try running the frozen vegetables under boiling water and drying them on a paper towel. Just make sure that they don’t enter the cooking process when you do.
After that, place them on a baking sheet, drizzle some salt and olive oil, and put it inside the oven for another 20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
General Tips to Spice up your Frozen Food
Here are a few general tips on how you can add more life to your frozen foods. Doing so not only makes them more appealing to consume but can also make them tastier.
Pair them with canned soup or salad
Enhance your frozen food entrees by straight-up adding a bowl of canned soup or salad. For starters, you may want to check out Amy’s Organic Soups or Organic Chunky Tomato Bisque.
As for the salad, just grab a bagged mix and top it with a splash of balsamic. If you don’t enjoy salad dressing all that much, try salsa instead. Nevertheless, incorporating a soup or salad on the side makes for a more wonderful dinner centered around frozen foods.
Prepare various sauces
While some frozen finger foods come with a pre-packaged sauce, it is always a good idea to prepare some for yourself. Sometimes, doing so turns what was supposed to be a simple snack into a complete meal.
Incorporate fresh produce into the mix
Frozen foods have improved over the years to the point that they are no longer the supporting ingredient and are now the main entrees. Nowadays, it is common to see a meal centered around frozen foods supplemented by fresh produce instead of the other way around. Chop a few fresh veggies, sprinkle them atop your chosen frozen meal, and enjoy a more satisfying and healthy meal.
Top them with extra ready-to-eat protein
Sometimes, that tiny portion of frozen chicken isn’t good enough. Enhance your dish by adding an extra dose of ready-to-eat chicken strips, shrimp, or beans. These products are almost always available in the supermarket’s fridge or freezer section, so you wouldn’t have to worry about getting a bag or two for yourself.
Tips/Hacks to Upgrade your Frozen Dinners
Here are few tips or hacks to upgrade your frozen dinners:
- Add crushed cashews or any other nuts – sprinkle a few on top of a frozen chicken dish to add a salty crunch that enhances the flavor of the overall dish.
- Add cheese – melted cheese, shaved cheese, or any kind of cheese improves most dishes. Not only can it make the dish more aesthetically pleasing, they can also add a lot of flavor. That said, how much cheese you want to add depends entirely on your preference.
- Use some leftover bread as a side dish – grab the remaining pieces of bread from last night’s dinner, slice, and then toast them. Eat it on the side of your frozen dinner. If you want, dip them in your preferred sauce.
- Use frozen waffles to create a DIY breakfast sandwich – heat up a couple of frozen waffles and use them to sandwich eggs and bacon, resulting in a protein-heavy breakfast sandwich that is just a delight to the mouth.
- Use frozen potstickers as soup toppings – make your hot soup all the more satisfying by topping it up with some frozen potstickers or gyoza. If you want, sprinkle some chopped frozen veggies in the mix as well.
While most would just eat frozen foods as they are meant to be – after popping them for a moment in the microwave – others are encouraged to experiment with them thanks to their convenience and easy-to-handle nature. We belong to that group. What we have above are just some of the ways you can do to make frozen foods all the more exciting and satisfying. Activate your creative juices and come up with more interesting ways to spice up your frozen dinners!