There was a time when frozen food was quite the thing. Growing up in the 1970s, most people had great big chest freezers, full to the brim of meat cuts and frozen food packages, and a regular big shopping trip to the local Bejam store was the norm. Our parents who had grown up in the 1950s and even '60s, when everything was bought on an almost daily basis from local shops, were keen to embrace everything that the supermarket and the frozen food aisles had to offer. But from the 1980s onwards this began to change, and most of us returned to a preference for fresh, home cooked food, with frozen food becoming, well, a bit naff.
Very few of us these days buy a high percentage of our food frozen, despite quick-frozen vegetables consistently showing higher levels of nutrients than fresh which has been transported up and down the country for several days before arrival at your local supermarket. My mum still maintains a big, well-stocked freezer and a near-empty fridge; whilst we have two usually full fridges and a small freezer with very little in it. What we do have in there is invariably a bag of frozen peas and one of broad beans, Birds Eye's naturally! And the girls love the Birds Eye Vegetable Nuggets (recently rebranded from the former Vegetable Fingers), always a quick go to for lunch. Here's Sophia tucking into hers with broccoli and some raw salad bits.
But Birds Eye are keen to convince us modern diners that there is more to their range than just the humble pea, and have recently expanded their range to include frozen portions of rice and vegetables, namely Rice Fusions and Vegetable Fusions. There are several different varieties available, each contained in unique pyramid steamer bags designed to gently steam-cook the contents in the microwave. This allows the flavours to gently infuse 'for a delicious fresh dish in minutes'. Mucrowave-less Luddites like ourselves can even heat them in a pan over a gentle heat with a little water for the same effect.
Rice Fusions mix seasoned long grain rice with chopped fresh veggies and herbs, whilst Veg Fusions mixes fresh vegetables with complementary herbs and seasonings, creating delicious vegetable accompaniments for a variety of meals. We tried the Mediterranean Vegetable Rice, which contains courgette, red pepper, onion, grilled aubergine and oregano, a yummy combination that we all enjoyed. To tell the truth I was surprised to find the rice as cooked well as it was, I had been expecting overcooked mush and it certainly wasn't. The Italian Vegetables with Basil & Rosemary was also very good, vanquishing childhood memories of overcooked soggy grey frozen vegetables, thankfully! With vibrant colours, good texture and great flavour, this is a quick vegetable alternative we'll be trying again.
The Veg Fusions Green Medley with a hint of Garlic & Herbs contains a mix of green beans, peas, broccoli and mange tout, with a drizzle of garlic and herb butter. Again the packet contains two good sized portions, as you can see in the photo of our nut roast dinner below. Not too garlicky, but again with great texture and flavour, we were very impressed.
We will definitely be adding Birds Eye Rice Fusions and Veg Fusions to our freezer stock, great meal accompaniments straight from the freezer in a matter of minutes, a great busy day standby.