Out-of-season, frozen produce is usually a better bargain than its fresh counterpart. And thanks to technological advances in the factories, foods can get from field to your grocer’s freezer with its taste, texture and nutritional value still intact. Use these tips to pick nutritious bargains from your grocer’s freezer the next time you go produce shopping.
If it’s not grown locally or out-of-season, odds are the frozen version of the produce item will be cheapest. Fruits and vegetables are harvested for freezing at the moment they reach their fully-ripe stage and quickly processed and frozen at the factories so their nutritional value and flavor are at their peak. Fruits and vegetables harvested to sold fresh are picked slightly before they are fully ripe so they can survive transport and hopefully reach their peak and your grocer’s produce section at the same time.
Don’t pass up the frozen potatoes in favor of fresh potatoes until you give them a try. Convenient and easy-to-prepare, there is most likely a frozen potato variety that will please your family and your budget, plus make mid-week meal prep a lot quicker.
Frozen Food Test
It is difficult to discern the quality of frozen foods while in the supermarket, but not impossible. Choosing fruits and vegetables frozen in see-through plastic bags gives you a visual of the product before buying and squeezing the bag will give you another clue about the quality. If you hear ice crunching when you squeeze the bag, that is a sign of freezer burn so steer clear of that frozen food product.
Avoid frozen foods that are packaged with sauces too. The heavy sauces added to fruits and vegetables also add calories and make them less healthy than sauce-less varieties. Add the same flavorings to frozen fruits and vegetables that you would add to the fresh versions at cooking or serving time. Add a little natural fruit juice to frozen fruits instead of the sweet syrup and sprinkle fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top of veggies for healthy, low-calorie flavor.
Frozen Seafood and Meat
The freshest seafood in the supermarket is in the freezer case. Fish and shrimp are often frozen on the boat immediately after being caught , while the fish and other seafood items in the ‘fresh’ seafood case has been frozen and defrosted.
Frozen pre-made burger patties are convenient, but can cost significantly more than fresh ground beef. Other frozen meats can be loaded with fat, salt and calories, so be sure to read the labels and compare price-per-pound with the fresh versions.