Frozen Foods Meet US Dietary Guidelines, Says AFFI Paper

A weekly menu consisting primarily of frozen foods meets the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), according to a new white paper released by the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI). 

Written by Betsy Hornick, an Illinois-based food and nutrition communications consultant, the results from menu modeling reveal that realistic, balanced and affordable meals featuring mostly frozen foods can meet energy, nutrient and cost goals based on recommendations from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) 2010 DGAs, USDA’s MyPlate and USDA’s Moderate Cost Food Plan.

The white paper outlines a menu for one week that is 95% comprised of frozen foods.  All major food groups, including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy products, are well represented.  The total cost per week is $59.66, or $8.52 per day, which falls within USDA’s Moderate Cost Food Plan.

“The amount of time Americans are spending preparing meals is steadily decreasing, yet people are increasingly searching for reasonably priced, nutritious foods,” said Joe Clayton, interim president of McLean, Virginia-based AFFI.  “What we found through menu modeling is that Americans can meet all of their requirements – convenience, nutrition and affordability – with items offered in the frozen food aisle.”

In evaluating a meal plan that features primarily frozen food, a menu model was developed to bring USDA-recommended food patterns to life and to weigh affordability, feasibility and nutritional value.  A full week of menus were developed to meet the nutritional needs of an adult woman 19-50 years of age, based on recommendations from USDA’s MyPlate guidelines, Dietary Reference Intakes and the 2010 DGAs. All meals and snacks not only met nutritional standards, but also met the need for convenience, using prepared frozen foods or simple recipes that included frozen foods.  Each menu was reviewed for energy and key nutrients including fat, sodium, fiber, protein and Vitamins A, C and D among others.

Financial support for the menu modeling was provided by AFFI. The white paper was published as a Today’s Dietitian November 2015 Supplement: “Menu Modeling Demonstrates Feasibility, Nutritional Value and Affordability of Frozen Foods,” and is available here. An infographic illustrating the findings can be found here.