Meal Prep with Frozen Foods for a Stress-Free Week

From now on…when you think “frozen,” think: healthy, nutrient-dense and easy-peasy.

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Time is precious. Meal prep shouldn’t be.

That’s why our founder, James Beard Award-winning chef Marco Canora – a guy whose happy place is the local green market –  is also a proponent of frozen foods. Say, what? A chef who shops in the freezer aisle? Yes, you heard that right.

Frozen has come a long way since the low quality, preservative-filled fare of the 1970s.  Did you know that France’s favorite grocery store, Picard, only sells frozen food?  It’s a running joke that the French are always trying to hide their Picard boxes when they host a dinner party!

So, we’re taking this opportunity to debunk a few myths about today’s frozen food.

Frozen is the new fresh.

Most Americans believe that fresh vegetables are better for them than frozen. However, that’s not always the case. Time, temperature and general abuse (during transit and storage) – which most grocery chains apply to vegetables – are often overlooked.

Frozen vegetables can be frozen from fresh at their peak point of ripeness, meaning that they retain their optimal nutritional value for longer. Fiber, vitamins, potassium…they’re all still in there after a trip to the freezer. Plus, most grocery stores now even carry organic varieties of frozen veggies — so you can reap the benefits of clean farming without breaking the bank.

Peace out, preservatives.

For grocery items to be shelf stable, companies often include preservatives — or they’ll process products at high temperatures and high pressure points. Freezing is nature’s preservative, and all it takes is a little bit of chill. The process is simple and clean.

When shopping for frozen vegetables, ensure that the ingredients panel contains nothing but the name of the veggie itself. This is a big difference, compared to canned vegetables — which also tend to contain loads of added salt to increase shelf life. 

Frozen foods make meal prep easier.

Frozen foods can be a huge time-saver. Buying pre-cut frozen veggies can save countless minutes of prep and clean up, compared to the constant chopping, shaving and rinsing required for fresh vegetables.

Veggie-packed soups are a great way to add key nutrients into your weeknight meal rotation.

Here are a few soup recipes that Chef Marco makes for his family using frozen foods.

Buttternut squash soup

*Each soup recipe yields 4-6 servings.

AUTUMN-SPICED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Ingredients:

  • 2 12-oz. bags of frozen cubed butternut squash
  • 4 cups of Brodo bone broth, thawed or frozen (we like hearth for this soup, but you could also substitute seaweed & mushroom to make this recipe vegan)
  • 1 chopped onion 
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch each of ground cinnamon and nutmeg (or, really…whatever spice floats your boat — cumin, turmeric and cardamom are also delicious)
  • 1 tsp. chopped sage
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a stockpot on medium-high heat. Add chopped onions, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg and chopped sage. Saute for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Drop the frozen butternut squash into the pot and continue heating until the butternut squash has thawed.
  3. Add your Brodo, then simmer until the butternut squash is tender and the broth is steamy.
  4. Turn off the heat, then use a handheld blender to carefully pulse all ingredients together until a puree begins to form. Add in the coconut milk little-by-little and continue blending until you’ve reached a consistency you’re happy with. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

SILKY MUSHROOM SOUP

Ingredients:

  • 2 12-oz. bags of frozen assorted mushrooms
  • 4 cups of Brodo bone broth, thawed or frozen (we like beef for this soup, but you could also substitute seaweed & mushroom to make this recipe vegan)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 Tbsp. grass-fed butter or ghee
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. All-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat butter or ghee in a large stockpot on medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and garlic, then saute for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the flour and continue sauteeing for two minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms to the pot, and coat them fully with the butter mixture.
  4. Add your Brodo and thyme to the stockpot and simmer for another five minutes (or until steamy).
  5. Turn off the heat, then use a handheld blender to carefully pulse all ingredients together until a puree begins to form. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and don’t be afraid to buzz in more butter or ghee to increase the soup’s creaminess.

CURRIED CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Ingredients:

  • 2 12-oz. bags of frozen cauliflower florets
  • 4 cups of Brodo bone broth, thawed or frozen (we like chicken for this soup, but you could also substitute seaweed & mushroom to make this recipe vegan)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. fresh or ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk and/or fresh cilantro to garnish (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a stockpot on a medium-high heat. Add chopped onions, garlic, curry powder, ginger and cumin. Saute for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the frozen cauliflower and stir all ingredients together. Continue to saute until the cauliflower has thawed.
  3. Add your Brodo to the stock pot, and simmer until the broth is steamy and the cauliflower is fork tender.
  4. Turn off the heat, then use a handheld blender to carefully pulse all ingredients together until a puree begins to form. Add in the coconut milk little-by-little and continue blending until you’ve reached a consistency you’re happy with. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with cilantro to garnish.