8 Ways to Enhance the Taste of Frozen Meals
Frozen meals are convenient — especially after working all day — but not very appetizing as they come.
Fortunately, some creativity can go a long way in the kitchen to turn your frozen meals from drab to delicious. Here are eight ways to enhance frozen meals so you crave them repeatedly.
Include Herbs, Seasonings and Spice Blends
There are many reasons why frozen meals lose their flavor the longer they sit. The ingredients may blend, losing their palpability. Ice crystals, poor sealing and freezer temperature fluctuations can further take away from the taste and texture of food.
One of the simplest ways to enhance frozen meals is to add your own seasoning and herbs. You can purchase delicious blends at the supermarket with the right amount of each spice for a better-balanced flavor — such as seasoned salt, Sazon seasoning, rotisserie chicken seasoning and chile powder. Even a five-spice powder — fennel, peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon and cloves — adds a well-rounded Asian flair to frozen dishes.
You can even grow a small windowsill herb garden for fresh greens in a pinch. For example, you only need a 6-inch-deep pot to grow oregano indoors.
Create a Pot Pie or Casserole
A pot pie is a type of meat pie filled with protein and vegetables. You can fill a mouth-watering puff pastry with frozen goods to enhance flavor.
Frozen foods are much fresher than vegetables from the produce aisle. Usually, produce sits for three days on the shelf, where many lose their minerals and nutrients.
Conversely, manufacturers preserve foods by freezing them at peak ripeness to prevent bacterial growth and molding. For this reason, they maintain their nutritional composition and last much longer.
If a pie isn’t in the cards, you can turn your frozen meal into a casserole large enough to feed the whole family.
Add Protein and Vegetables
Suppose you’ve bought a plant-based frozen meal and are missing protein. Why not add diced chicken, shrimp, tofu or lentils to make it more nutritious and satiating?
While plant-based diets are among the healthiest, protein has its place in your diet. For instance, salmon, oysters and rainbow trout are excellent sources of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.
Corn, spinach, chickpeas, broccoli, green peas and artichoke hearts are other protein-rich ingredients you can add to frozen meals to keep it vegetarian.
Make a Sauce
Your frozen meal may taste a little dry after heating, but you can add moisture with a sauce of your choice. Whipping up a sauce yourself is the best way to ensure your frozen meal is healthier.
Make a homemade red sauce, pesto sauce, cream sauce or stir-fry sauce at home and freeze it in a jar. You can then defrost it on the counter when ready to use it to enhance frozen meals.
Add Fresh Toppings to Frozen Pizza
Heating a frozen pizza in the oven is great when you’re hungry and too tired to cook. However, it can taste a bit plain and underwhelming on its own.
Chop up raw red and green bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, broccoli, pineapple tidbits, olives and tomatoes to throw on top of your pizza before baking.
This is another opportunity to sprinkle fresh herbs and seasonings for a stronger flavor. Some of the best pizza herbs and spices include oregano, basil, garlic, thyme, parsley and red pepper flakes.
Create Another Dish
Frozen meals are an opportunity to get creative in the kitchen. Don’t know what to do with a bag of frozen fish sticks? Stick them in a tortilla and top with shredded lettuce, salsa, cheese, sour cream and guacamole for fish stick tacos.
Other ideas for creative dishes with a frozen food base include:
- Adding cheese and enchilada sauce over Taquitos for little enchiladas.
- Using frozen meatballs and red sauce to create meatball sliders.
- Crumbling frozen turkey or veggie burgers into cheesy pasta.
- Adding miso, vegetable or chicken broth to frozen pot stickers for wonton soup.
Like any cooking experience, you can have fun experimenting with frozen meals.
Serve With Side Dishes
Sometimes, frozen meals feel incomplete. Fortunately, you can add side dishes to anything.
Have a small salad with your frozen pasta for a multiple-course Italian dinner. Frozen mashed potatoes — or frozen mashed cauliflower for a low-carb alternative — also pair well with frozen turkey meatballs.
Soups, a dinner roll, roasted vegetables and potato wedges are other versatile options for frozen meals.
Stir Fry the Meal
When all else fails, toss your frozen meal in a skillet and make a stir fry. This tip works best with a frozen vegetable dish with minimal sauce and seasoning.
Of course, you might be able to defrost a frozen meal and rinse whatever sauce it comes in.
Stir fry in a skillet with soy sauce, your five-spice powder, teriyaki sauce or hoisin to give it ample flavor. Top it with toasted sesame seeds and serve over rice.
Your Enhanced Frozen Dinner Is Served
With so many ways to enhance frozen meals, you never have to worry about eating a bland dish again. Always keep extra seasoning, spices and sauces on hand if needed. You never know if your frozen meal will end up becoming one of your all-time favorites.