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 for back-up help. 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! Many cans that are BPA free have a red lining on the inside. The coconut milk, organic stewed tomatoes, and corn I get at Costco have this lining.

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 preservatives and processed oils. 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.

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?