Health benefits – fresh food vs. frozen food

Most of us intuitively know that fresh-is-best – you probably wouldn't be reading this blog post if you didn't! But what about fresh vs frozen? Are they just as good as each other, or do we loose something when we freeze our food? There's a lot of misinformation out there, so let's explore this one is some more detail…

Beautiful baby peas

Fresh food vs. frozen food

Fresh food has more nutritional value than frozen food.

If you think about it, this makes sense: freezing can't add any nutrients to fresh food, so frozen food can only have the same amount of nutrients as fresh food or less.

The discussion then is all about how much nutritional value (if any) is lost when food gets frozen.

Not all frozen food is created equal…

Colourful gelato stand(No – not that kind of frozen food!) 😛

The biggest point of confusion we see on this topic around the web is that people don't differentiate between freezing food for yourself, and the reasons large meal prep companies freeze food.

Freezing food yourself, say after a meal delivery of grocery shop, is for the most part fine. If it makes your food last longer and means less frequent trips to the shops, that's a win in our books!

The reasons large meal prep companies freeze their food are a bit different. They usually want to cook in bulk and then freeze meals for delivery weeks later, or they want to buy their ingredients in bulk and freeze them for later use. To do this at a commercial level, food manufactures need to blanch their food.

What is blanching?

The National Centre for Home Food Preservation says:

"Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time) is a must for almost all vegetables to be frozen. It stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavour, colour and texture.

Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the colour and helps retard loss of vitamins. It also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack.

Blanching time is crucial and varies with the vegetable and size. Under–blanching stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching. Over–blanching causes loss of flavour, colour, vitamins and minerals."

To be clear, blanching is much preferred to adding artificial preservatives and has benefits when you need to store food for a long time.

However, whenever you move food further away from its natural state there are always trade offs. With blanching these trade offs are:

  • Vegetable texture: blanching will wilt and soften your vegetables. Good for food manufactures who need to pack food into storages boxes, but bad for consumers who end up with soggy veggies :/
  • Reduced nutritional value: Food manufactures will often err on the side of caution (a good thing) and over–blanch your food (a bad thing) to ensure it's safe to store for extended periods. This results in a loss of "flavour, colour, vitamins and minerals".

Ok, but what about taste?

Even when you put aside the nutritional changes in frozen and fresh food, customers generally prefer fresh food over frozen because of the noticeable difference in flavour and taste.

The texture of food is not something we usually think about a lot, but it has huge impact on how you perceive what you're eating. Texture is the difference between a fresh, crisp chilled lettuce leaf from the fridge, and the old wilted one that's left in the salad bowl at the end of the night. Similar taste and nutritional value, but one of those leaves will probably get tossed in the bin…

Freezing food causes the water molecules inside it to expand and bust their cell walls, significantly changing the texture of your food and leaving you with soggy veggies.

Why avoid frozen food?

To put it simply: taste and nutrition, in that order.

Here's a little secret: the most common feedback we hear from customers is how much more flavour our meals have compared to other meal delivery services they've tried. Most of this difference comes down to one thing – fresh food will always taste better than frozen food.

If you're committed to fresh–not–frozen & have built your business model to deliver meals just hours after cooking, it's easy to deliver the best tasting, most nutritious meals to your customers. You'd have to go out of your way not to!

Freshly picked raspberries

Our meal delivery service is based on the principle of providing our customers with the best service and healthiest food. This is why we choose to go the extra mile and put a little more effort into making sure that our customers get to eat fresh meals, just like you would if you made them at home.