Fresh, Canned, or Frozen?

What’s cheaper? What’s healthier? Can they be used interchangeably? Let’s compare and contrast our options.

Fresh produce is my favorite to pack with lunch. I love enjoying a crisp apple for a snack or crunchy carrots & radishes with some hummus. However, the time it takes to harvest produce, distribute it, and finally appear on the shelves can be weeks, consequently diminishing the nutrient content. Shopping at a local grocery store, farmer’s market, or buying frozen may significantly close that time gap from harvest to purchase.

Canned vegetables are great to have stocked in the pantry. It saves so much time on prep and can easily be incorporated into many soups, casseroles, or just served as a side dish. When choosing canned vegetables, look for the phrase “no salt added.” You’ll see a huge difference when you compare sodium content. For example, Hunt’s tomato sauce contains 820 mg per half cup, while the same brand with “no salt added” contains only 40mg/ half cup. WOW!

Choose canned fruit that’s packed in 100% juice. You’ll see options of heavy syrup, light syrup, or some kind of juice (often pear). The fruit itself already contains fructose, a natural occurring sugar, so there’s no need to have the unnatural stuff in there.

Like canned produce, frozen is a convenient option to stock in the freezer and add to soups, casseroles, or stir fry. A bonus about frozen produce is that it is packaged and frozen soon after picking. Much of the nutritional value is retained, making them convenient and sometimes even superior than fresh. I buy frozen vegetables plain and add my own flavors rather than buy the kind that comes with a sauce. It can add loads of sodium, fat, and calories. I like tossing broccoli in a glass dish with the lid on and microwaving it for a few minutes while I finish up the main dish.

Since fresh produce spoils if not used in a short time frame, prep and freeze fresh produce for a later use. If you enjoy smoothies or making your own parfaits, buying frozen fruit can save some money. Compare price per ounce to see for yourself. On average, fresh strawberries can cost up to $2.25/lb fresh, $1.00/lb frozen. Blueberries can cost up to $2.50/lb fresh , $2.00/lb frozen.

There are a lot of options to choose from, but once you know what to look for, shopping healthy for a good bargain becomes an easy task!

How do you incorporate fresh, frozen or canned produce into your diet?