Meadville Tribune

July 26, 2012

Why fresh food is better than frozen (mostly)

By Casey Seidenberg
Special to The Washington Post

— My kids and I recently had 30 minutes to undertake a week's worth of grocery shopping before we had to be at baseball practice. This is not unusual. As we ran through the grocery store, each flying in a different direction to gather items on the list, my boys asked me an excellent question. They asked me why I don't buy frozen meals.

We happened to be at Trader Joe's, a store full of frozen items that are labeled organic and appear to be very healthy. They reasoned that if I tossed seven frozen meals in the cart I'd be almost done shopping for the week. Shopping would have taken mere minutes instead of the hour it usually takes to find all the ingredients, not to mention the time spent unloading the groceries and cooking the meals.

My boys asked a fair question, and one I am guessing most parents have asked themselves when they feel frazzled getting dinner on the table.

Here is my simple answer.

A fresh meal generally supplies more . . .

A frozen meal tends to deliver more . . .

NOTE: This information doesn't mean you should never serve a frozen meal. It doesn't mean you should feel guilty when you do. This is just a reminder to myself, and my children, why I work hard to get fresh, whole-food meals on the table. Spring and summer make eating fresh fruits and vegetables easy, as a variety of produce is in season and needs little doctoring to taste delicious.

On those nights that a frozen meal is the answer, add a side salad or a few raw vegetables to make up for the lower amounts of water, enzymes and micronutrients. Then sit down and enjoy dinner with your kids.

Seidenberg is co-founder of Nourish Schools, a D.C.-based nutrition education company. Look for her posts on the On Parenting blog: washingtonpost.com/onparenting.