Fresh vs. Frozen: 4 Tips to Help You Choose

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Savvy Spender knows how to pinch a penny and about being on a budget. She has learned great ways to save money on everyday expenses.

Fresh vs. Frozen: 4 Tips to Help You Choose

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Fresh vs. Frozen: what’s better for your budget & health?Two roads diverged in the supermarket, and I - I took the one less harsh on my wallet, and that has made all the difference.

On one hand is the frozen produce section, humming its trademark whir behind frosted glass doors. On the other hand is the fresh produce area, bursting at the seams with greens, reds, yellows and well, actual oranges.

Oy vey. The choices in any given grocery store seem to multiply each year. Now, shoppers live in a time in which comparing apples to apples is an actual dilemma.

On top of comparing one apple to another, one greater debate has puzzled consumers for years: fresh vs. frozen.

Here are four easy-to-learn and even easier-to-remember tips for how to make the choice that makes the most sense for you:

1. Pay attention to what's in season.

When strawberry season rolls around, fresh strawberries will be your cheapest (and best tasting) bet. In general, go fresh for in-season produce. Because of abundances in supply and prime growing conditions, in-season fruits and veggies will be sold cheaper and perhaps more importantly, have better size, color, shape, texture and flavor. Otherwise, off-season fruits and veggies can be found in the frozen aisles at lower prices.

Being budget-savvy is one thing. Minimizing your carbon footprint can be another. Do both at the same time by shopping for produce that's locally grown.

2. Stay on top of in-store savings.

Regardless of shopping for produce or not, sign up for updates on your grocery store's weekly discounts, deals and coupons. With today's online coupons and mobile deals, saving money is as quick and convenient as checking email.

In addition to snatching coupons before you hit the open aisles, supermarkets often have special savings marked throughout the store. From signs scattered throughout the fresh produce section to specially marked items on the shelves, grocery stores are pros when it comes to savings. All it takes is a mindful shopper.

3. Frozen veggies means frozen nutrients.

Consumers often mistake frozen produce for freezer-burned veggie packs lacking any nutritional substance the moment it's nuked in the microwave.

In fact, the opposite is true. Produce frozen right after harvesting is shown to contain more nutrients than its fresh counterpart. Frozen fruits and veggies retain much of their natural health benefits when processed at peak ripeness because nutrients are locked in after the produce is rid of degrading bacteria. Plus, fresh fruits and veggies are more vulnerable to harmful conditions (think harsh heat and light) from farm to supermarket that actually strip much of the produce's nutrients away.  

4. Think quantity and quality.

Whether talking money, health or both, how you prepare your produce is essential to your decision between fresh and frozen. If preparing a sizable load of fruits and veggies for a big gathering, go for what's best to buy in bulk. If cooking up a romantic dinner for two, on the other hand, look for the cheapest item by the pound or ounce.

When going frozen, be on the lookout for the USDA "U.S. Fancy" emblem, which denotes that what's inside was the best of the crop in terms of size, color, shape and nutrition.

Whether fresh or frozen, steaming produce retains more nutrients than boiling them does. But be wary of steamer bags that are designed to pop right into the microwave. These often contain much more air than veggies, which translates to less food for your money. Vegetables are just as easy to steam without a fancy bag.

Regardless of which road you choose to follow, rest assured that you've made the right choice by incorporating healthy produce into your family's diet.

Related Posts:

Save Time and Money at the Grocery Store

The Burden of Food

Sheri AlzeerahSheri Alzeerah from Food on the Table


Sheri Alzeerah, a self-proclaimed "international hodgepodge," is proud to call Texas her home. Alzeerah was born in Canada, and moved to Texas in 1993 with her Bahraini/Iranian father, Filipina mother and two older brothers. As Food on the Table's editorial intern, she scouts out ways to save money on home-cooking and grocery-shopping. Her work can be seen in Texas Highways, Austin Monthly, UT's student newspaper and alumni magazine, various local newspapers and her personal food blog, Chow, Bella!

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  • If you decide on frozen then look at the steamer frozen foods.  A few companies make them.  They have a little bowl and it steams the food in the microwave.  I agree the nutrtients are less but the steamers actually taste better than most frozne foods. Thanks Sheri!

  • Save more money on your next grocery trip by mapping out the journey before heading to your destination.

  • By the time tummies start growling and patience starts wearing, it's tempting to just grab a take-out menu or zip on over to the nearest drive-thru. With fast food joints dotting every street corner and snappy food delivery just a phone call away, convenience

  • What's worse is November's peanut butter price increase due to the scarce peanut crop this year. But don't let the draught dry out your wallet too. Peanut butter is so much more than the old standby for choosy moms

  • Your assignment: instead of spending money five days a week on unhealthy, overpriced after-school munchies, keep your star students' health (and your budget) in line. Can you make the grade?

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