MOLLY MILLER, Associate
Director of R&D
with contributions from Valerie Gunsaulis, PhD, Senior Food Scientist II
There is an age-old debate about fresh vs. frozen food and it is getting more heated with the more demands we put on the food we eat. Is it affordable? Is it convenience? Does it cut down on food waste? Most importantly, is it nutritious?
Most people aspire to live by “fresh is best” and as a registered dietitian nutritionist, I love that! But I’m also busy and a mom and I need practical as well as effective in my life. If this sounds like you, I invite you to rediscover the coldest aisle in the supermarket, and not just for the frozen berries you put in your smoothie, but also for the juicy chicken breast for the center of your dinner plate.
Before you start grilling me with what you’ve heard about frozen meat, I’m here to set the record straight by taking the most common myths about frozen chicken head-on.
MYTH: “Frozen chicken needs to thaw before cooking”
It’s fine to cook frozen chicken in the oven or on the stove top without defrosting it first. This eliminates the need for pre-planning with just a little extra time accounted for cooking. Check out THIS ARTICLE for a quick how to.
MYTH: “Frozen chicken is more ‘processed’”
Frozen chicken is the same as chicken in a tray…but frozen. Both are All Natural* with No Antibiotics Ever (NAE), but one is frozen at the peak of freshness. Our frozen chicken is coated with a thin layer of ice to allow for extended shelf life without sacrificing quality. Our preferred method for cooking individually frozen chicken is using a skillet on the stove top. When cooking in a covered pan on the stove top, this ice layer melts quickly, and generates steam for faster cooking.
MYTH: “Frozen chicken is not as healthy”
There is no nutritional difference between fresh and frozen chicken. Pat yourself on the back for getting a helping of nutritious protein! So, pick up your frozen fruits, veggies and chicken in the freezer aisle!
MYTH: “Frozen chicken is not as fresh”
Unlike that tray of chicken that sat in your fridge for eight days before you stuffed it in the freezer (we’re ALL guilty…), Tyson frozen chicken is quick frozen right off the line, preserving its freshness. Better yet, quick freezing, as opposed to sticking fresh chicken into the freezer ensures more tender and juicy chicken! In fact, the “Best if Used By” date on frozen chicken is typically about 365 days for boneless skinless breast fillets, really lending to the convenience of these items for always-available cooking! Fresh chicken will also have a “Best if Used By” date on the package, but it’s typically only 14-16 days from the time it was packaged.
MYTH: “Frozen chicken isn’t convenient”
Think of all the effort that goes into planning and shopping for a meal before you even get around to cooking it. With fresh chicken only having a window of about 2 weeks, that’s a lot of trips to the grocery store if chicken is on the menu every night! That reliable bag of frozen chicken has you covered for the year. Busy night, no problem. Unexpected dinner guests, no problem. Feel prepared to make a beautiful meal anytime with frozen chicken.
TRUTH: “Frozen chicken is more sustainable”
Food waste is a huge issue in the United States—Americans throw out 400 pounds of food per person annually! Freezing is a natural way to stop time and allows you to only use what you need when you need it. For more on the benefits of frozen chicken, check out THIS VIDEO.
Don’t be fooled. You can stock your freezer with nutritious, fresh frozen foods like fruits, veggies and chicken. My favorites include INDIVIDUALLY FROZEN BONELESS CHICKEN THIGH STRIPS that I sauté with onions and peppers for fajitas and INDIVIDUALLY FROZEN CHICKEN BREAST TENDERLOINS that I grill and serve over veggie or pasta noodles with a simple sauce. I love the quality, taste, freshness and convenience of frozen fresh chicken!
Don’t over-think the “fresh versus frozen” question. The more important question is: Are you eating enough produce and lean protein?
*Minimally processed. No artificial ingredients.