At the beginning of the year, I definitely got way too hype about having an actual kitchen at school and I overestimated both the cost and shelf life of the fresh produce I was buying. Needless to say, it took me about two weeks to realize that my money, as a broke college student, was much better spent on frozen fruits, vegetables, and meats.
Frozen meals, especially fruits and vegetables, actually tend to be more nutritious than fresh produce, because they are frozen at the peak of freshness, while fresh products have actually decreased in nutrition levels by the time they reach your local stores.
For both health and money reasons, buying frozen products can be extremely beneficial, however, after a while, I began to get bored because most frozen meals are easily prepared using the microwave. Fast but bland. So, naturally, I began to experiment. Here are some tips I’ve come up with for cooking your frozen veggies, fruits, and meats without your microwave.
I’m not going to lie, whenever I’m about to make frozen vegetables I don’t even look at the “stove-top” instructions, because I really hate waiting for water to boil. It seems unnecessary, I get extremely impatient, and I end up dumping all my food into a pot of lukewarm water.If you’re like me and
If you’re like me and enjoy cooking things all at once, here’s a helpful meal idea. Instead of making one thing first and waiting for something else to cook, I like to prepare my frozen veggies and meat together in a pot of chicken stock. This is great because you don’t have to defrost whatever’s frozen, and you can leave it for a while to simmer while doing laundry, homework, or, you know, binging on Broad City.
Bring approximately one cup of chicken broth and a half a cup of water to a boil, dump in all your ingredients, lower to a simmer, and keep it on the heat until all meat is thoroughly cooked. You can also add in rice or other grains, just let it cook for about ten minutes before adding everything else in. The broth adds a full flavor to the vegetables and makes them anything but boring.
Also keep in mind that just because they’re frozen doesn’t mean you can’t roast vegetables in the oven. If I’m in a rush and want to skip the defrosting process, I usually run my vegetables quickly under very hot water and then dry them on a paper towel. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil and salt, and stick in the oven for about 20 minutes at 375°F.
I can’t explain how happy I was when I discovered that individually packaged, frozen chicken breasts are a thing and they come in boxes of 7-9. They keep for a while and contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to wait for the chicken to defrost all the way before cooking it. If you do choose to thaw it thoroughly, here is the perfect way to cook chicken without drying it out.
An interesting thing to consider when looking for new ways to cook frozen meats is the risk you want to take when leaving them in a slow cooker. Many people have done it and claim that they’ve done it safely. In truth, slow cookers don’t reliably get frozen meats to the proper temperature, and the meat will spend time sitting in the danger zone (40°F – 140°F) for bacteria to grow. Some take the risk, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
The good news? You can throw frozen chicken, beef, pork, you name it, into the pan straight out of the freezer. However, do make sure you’re doing it correctly. Whenever you cook frozen meats or fish, use a good amount of oil. This ensures that you counteract the amount of time the food spent in the cold.Once you’ve heated your oil, sear the meat on both sides for about a minute and half, then place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 275°F. Minimal preparation and you can even add some frozen vegetables to the pan to cook with the rest of the meal.
Once you’ve heated your oil, sear the meat on both sides for about a minute and half, then place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 275°F. Minimal preparation and you can even add some frozen vegetables to the pan to cook with the rest of the meal.
Frozen fruits are some of my favorite to prepare because they keep for a while and are extremely versatile. Admittedly, you wouldn’t really microwave these, but you can do a whole lot more with them then just making smoothies.
Try throwing some berries into a blender together with a couple teaspoons of milk (almond milk has more calcium and less fat per serving than normal whole milk) and making a thick puree. Pour into a bowl and use it as a base for nuts, dried fruits, some chia, flax, or hemp seeds and you have a flavorful and healthy breakfast.
If you’re looking for something quicker, partially thaw your fruit while getting ready in the morning, throw it into greek yogurt, and eat it on the go.
This last one is fun and definitely not in the interest of your health, but throw some frozen fruit into your mixed drinks in place of ice cubes so as to not water down your vodka-cran. You can even think about scoping out these ingredients next time you go food shopping to add some excitement to your pre-party mixes.
#SpoonTip: Strawberries or grapes work best here. Smaller fruits such as raspberries tend to disperse as they warm up, clogging up your straw.