Frozen Food Myths You Need To Stop Believing

Freezer aisle

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Freezer aisle
Cheapism / DALL-E 3

Thawing Out the Myths

We’ve all heard it before: Frozen food doesn’t hold a candle to fresh. But is that actually true?

From rumors about frozen food being unhealthy to outdated advice about refreezing food, let’s take a deeper dive into the frozen food myths that have been circulating for decades. 

Heap of Frozen Green Beans, Peas, and Corn
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1. Frozen Food Isn’t as Nutritious as Fresh Food

Who knows where this lie began? But these days, we’ve all heard it: Frozen food loses nutritional value and is less healthy than fresh food.

In fact, a recent study showed the opposite to be true.

The study analyzed broccoli, cauliflower, corn, green beans, green peas, spinach, blueberries, and strawberries, and found that fresh produce lost vitamins over time in the refrigerator, while in some cases, frozen vegetables better retained their nutritional value.

Because vegetables and fruits deteriorate over a period of a few days, they can lose the vitamins and minerals that make them so healthy. Frozen veggies, on the other hand, stop time in the freezing process, therefore retaining the healthy benefits.

Related: Time-Saving Frozen Foods You Should Never Put in Your Cart

Frozen Homemade Food in a Plastic Container
ondacaracola photography/Getty Images

2. You Can’t Refreeze Food

Once you’ve defrosted food, you can’t refreeze it … can you?

You can, but there’s the danger that the food has spoiled while it’s been defrosted, which means you’d be putting spoiled food back in the freezer to eat later. While food doesn’t continue to build bacteria when it’s frozen, those bacteria will continue to wreak havoc once the food is defrosted, which means the food can go bad. To safely refreeze food, keep it at 40 degrees or below for no more than a few days.

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Man Shopping in a Grocery Store in the Frozen Section

3. All Frozen Food Is Unhealthy

When frozen food first hit the market in the 1940s, a lot of it was unhealthy (Salisbury Steak, anyone)? But we’ve come a long way, baby, since then, and now you’ll find a lot of healthy options with fewer additives than in the past.

That’s not to say all frozen food is healthy. Do your homework by reading the ingredient list. If you can’t pronounce anything on the list, veer toward something with recognizable ingredients.

Related: Swanson TV Dinners, Hot Pockets, and More Iconic Frozen Foods From Each Decade

Pinch of Coarse Sea Salt on a Blue Background
Михаил Руденко/istockphoto

4. Frozen Foods Have Lots of Salt

Again, there’s no blanket truth for all frozen foods here. Some do have a lot of salt, but not all. It’s in your best interest to read the food label to understand what’s in your frozen food. If salt is a concern, opt for a product with lower sodium content.

Related: 10 Low-Sodium Hacks to Make the No-Salt Life Bearable

Plastic Tub of Vanilla Ice Cream and Cones Scattered
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5. It Doesn’t Matter Where You Store Food

All parts of your freezer are not created equal. If you have foods that melt easily, avoid putting them in the door. An example? Ice cream. If you leave the freezer door open for a few minutes, it can melt and then refreeze once the door is closed, which can cause ice crystals and even freezer burn.

The foods you need the most solidly frozen should go at the back of your freezer.

Related: The Best Costco Frozen Foods for Keeping Your Freezer Stocked

Blanched Broccoli Cooling Down in Icy Water in a Bowl

6. Foods Don’t Need Special Treatment Before Being Frozen

While you can throw a giant pack of steaks in the freezer, you’re better off opening the pack and individually packaging each steak. The benefits are twofold. First, you don’t have a lump of meat that you have to defrost all at once and you can take out just what you need. Also, by packaging in a smaller container — say, a plastic bag with the air removed — you keep the meat fresher without being exposed to air, which can cause freezer burn and harbor bacteria.

It’s also smart to blanch vegetables that are full of water so you don’t end up with soggy veggies after defrosting them.

Woman Putting Food Into Her Microwave

7. It’s Not Safe To Eat Expired Frozen Food

While it does depend on how well the food was stored and frozen, often the sell-by date only signifies when the grocer must remove the item from display. Because frozen foods curb the spread of bacteria, generally they’re still safe to eat after that date.

Related: Healthy Recipes You'll Never Know Were Made With Frozen Produce

Smiling Man Holding Two Packages of Frozen Food in a Grocery Store

8. Frozen Food Is More Expensive

It certainly can be, but if you shop smartly, you may spend less than you would on fresh food. An example is buying frozen produce when it’s otherwise out of season. Fresh strawberries might cost an arm and a leg out of season, but frozen ones can cost a fraction of the price and won’t go bad after a few days.

Closeup of Hand Holding Opened Bag of Frozen Strawberries
Irina Marwan/Getty Images

9. Frozen Foods Have a Lot of Preservatives

Actually, there’s not a lot of reason to put preservatives in frozen foods because freezing is the ultimate preservative! That means that you’re getting unadulterated food, whereas if you buy shelf-stable foods, you may be ingesting a lot of preservatives.

Related: Best Frozen Foods at Aldi to Stock Your Freezer for Less

Woman Taking Bag of Frozen Food From Her Freezer

10. The Carb, Protein, and Fat Content Changes

This rumor has been spreading for years. Many people think that not only do frozen foods lose their nutritional value, but also that the carbohydrate, protein, and fat content changes.

Not true! The content doesn’t change, so whether you eat a dish fresh or frozen, it's equal.

Buying frozen food can be economical and a healthy choice. And never fear: All these myths about frozen foods being less nutritious are unfounded, which means you can give your family foods rich in nutrients right from the freezer.