There’s no grocery store aisle I love more… than the frozen foods aisle.
Not because of the TV dinners… or the biscuits… or the… whatevers. But because of the frozen veggies. I’m serious!
I’m not even talking brand name frozen veggies, either. I’m talking the private label stuff. Pick up those store brand Kroger veggies… or Publix veggies… or Albertson’s veggies… whatever, y’all.
A giant bag of fresh spinach? On this date, could run me upwards of $2.50. I can get a container of frozen spinach for $0.87 right now. I’d simply have to forego the spinach salads if my money was tight.
Fresh mushrooms? Cost me approximately $2.79 right now. Frozen? $1.29.
Brussel sprouts? (Yes, Brussel sprouts.) $2.89 fresh. Frozen? $1.49.
Need I go on? Seriously. I’ve already saved about $4 thus far… and y’all know I’m cheap.
My secret go-to dish is always a stir-fry… especially if I can buy a bag of “Japanese stir fry vegetables” with mushrooms, green beans and onions… and all I’ve got to do is make my sauce and add a little sesame oil. C’mon. That’s just too easy.
On the question of whether or not frozen veggies stack up:
…as winter approaches, fresh produce is limited—or expensive—in much of the country, which forces many of us to turn to canned or frozen options. While canned vegetables tend to lose a lot of nutrients during the preservation process (notable exceptions include tomatoes and pumpkin), frozen vegetables may be even more healthful than some of the fresh produce sold in supermarkets, says Gene Lester, Ph.D., a plant physiologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Center in Weslaco, Texas. Why? Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing tend to be processed at their peak ripeness, a time when—as a general rule—they are most nutrient-packed.
While the first step of freezing vegetables—blanching them in hot water or steam to kill bacteria and arrest the action of food-degrading enzymes—causes some water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C and the B vitamins to break down or leach out, the subsequent flash-freeze locks the vegetables in a relatively nutrient-rich state.
On the other hand, fruits and vegetables destined to be shipped to the fresh-produce aisles around the country typically are picked before they are ripe, which gives them less time to develop a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Outward signs of ripening may still occur, but these vegetables will never have the same nutritive value as if they had been allowed to fully ripen on the vine. In addition, during the long haul from farm to fork, fresh fruits and vegetables are exposed to lots of heat and light, which degrade some nutrients, especially delicate vitamins like C and the B vitamin thiamin.
Bottom line: When vegetables are in-season, buy them fresh and ripe. “Off-season,” frozen vegetables will give you a high concentration of nutrients.
For those of us in areas where there is no winter farmer’s market nearby, or no reasonable supply of winter vegetables on sale at inexpensive prices? This is absolutely the next best thing!
Other posts in the series:
- Save Money On Groceries: Buy It In Bulk
- Save Money On Groceries: Buy It In Season
- Save Money On Groceries: Go Weekly
- Save Money On Groceries: Buy The Private Label (Go Generic!)
- Save Money On Groceries: Go Frozen!
- Q&A Wednesday: The $50 Challenge
- Save Money on Groceries: Go… Smaller?
- Save Money On Groceries: The Readers Share Their Tips!