Why Frozen Vegetables Are The Best Pantry Staples You Can Have

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I love my freezer. I’ve written before about how I like to keep it stocked with cookie dough, which is the pro-est of pro moves. In fact, I think that, in many ways, the freezer is the new pantry. (Or at the very least, it’s an incredible extension of the pantry.) The freezer allows you to keep high-quality fresh foods—not to mention, prepared meals— at the ready for way longer than the pantry. I try as hard as anyone else to keep my kitchen stocked with fresh produce, but sometimes the grocery shopping gets away from me and I find myself standing in front of an empty refrigerator, tempted to simply eat a box of macaroni and cheese for dinner. That’s when the frozen vegetables save me. Here’s why I love them.

Related: 100+ Easy Recipes With Frozen Vegetables

Easy never tasted so awesome.

They’re frozen at the peak of freshness.

Let’s use peas as our example here. Spring peas are a true delight. They’re a hyper-seasonal vegetable that comes around only once a year for a limited period of time. Even within that period, they have a very short shelf life, since the sugar in the peas that makes them so delicious to eat quickly turns to starch after they’ve been picked. Enter, frozen peas. They’re not quite as good as fresh, but they’re considerably better than any other option. This is true for other vegetables as well. It also means they’re more nutritious, since freezing protects more nutrients than, say canning.

You can actually decide how to cook them.

Canned vegetables are probably the first food that comes to mind when you think of pantry-stable vegetables, but the problem with canning is that the vegetables are already cooked. Canned green beans, corn or carrots are fine to throw into a soup at the end, but they’re typically mushy and already seasoned. When buying frozen, you have a lot more control over how you prepare them, because they’re not already mush, and you even have the chance to season them yourself, which is excellent.

WATCH: 4 Foods You Should Never Put In the Freezer

They’re super quick.

In many cases, frozen vegetables cook faster than fresh. In most cases, they’re already prepped, which means that they don’t need to be peeled or washed or chopped. You can just toss them right into whatever you’re cooking and go.

They’re affordable.

I love edamame, but the fresh stuff can be really expensive. Frozen, shelled edamame is way more affordable, and is perfect for quickly steaming and salting for a snack. Spinach is another great example. I like to steam spinach and eat it with eggs or on rice, but I think we all know how much fresh spinach cooks down. A large box of fresh spinach, which costs about $5, typically yields less than a bag of frozen, which I usually buy for about $3. Plus, if I don’t eat it as fast as I might like, it doesn’t get all slimy and disgusting.

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