The Surprising Frozen Food One Dietitian Says Is The Best To Buy At The Store

Frozen foods have come a long way since sodium-packed TV dinners were the main thing you'd find in the freezer aisle. For instance, in France there is an entire grocery store chain called Picard that only sells frozen food, stocking everything from raw ingredients like fruits, veggies, meat, and fish to gourmet meals like foie gras-filled filo pastry pockets (via Kitchn).

However, there's one ingredient that might not be in your freezer yet, but definitely should be, at least according to registered dietitian Lauren Manaker, and that's pre-cooked whole grains (via Eat This, Not That!).

It might not occur to you to keep grains in the freezer rather than, say, the pantry, but Manaker argues on Eat This, Not That! that it's a huge time-saver and a reliable way to integrate healthy, whole grains into your family meals, especially on busy weeknights. After all, when it's getting late and everyone is hungry, the temptation can be high to reach for some easy, refined carbs like potatoes or dinner rolls to fill out your plate, so you can focus on cooking the protein and vegetables. However, by keeping pre-cooked or leftover whole grains, like brown rice, quinoa, or sorghum in the freezer, it becomes quicker and easier to make a healthy choice. But convenience isn't the only reason to keep whole grains in the freezer.

Even more reasons to keep your whole grains in the freezer

Whether you're cooking for one person or several, it's important to have a variety of micro- and macronutrients on your plate, and for many that includes whole grains. While some whole grains are not for everyone, including those with celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome, for most people they're a great source of nutrients like fiber and polyphenols, not to mention vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and even plant proteins, according to WebMD. Not convinced? A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, certain cancers, and even premature death (via Healthline). However, as WebMD reports, the average American and young adult still eat less than one serving of these grains per day, with 40% never eating whole grains at all! 

The simplest way to solve this conundrum? Keep some grains in your freezer! According to Manaker, you can buy bags of grains from the store — some even come pre-seasoned or with additional ingredients like beans and vegetables — or simply do it yourself. All it takes is cooking up a big batch of grains, letting them cool, transferring them to a sealable bag (or several bags for multiple meals), and freezing them (via Eat This, Not That!).