One section of the supermarket with steadily rising prices and yes, less than top notch quality is the produce department. So should you ever feel guilty about opting for frozen or even canned veggies? Most health experts say as produce is usually frozen or canned as soon as it’s picked we shouldn’t worry too much because the vitamin and mineral content remains intact. I have to admit I used to feel really guilty if I relied on too many frozen and canned vegetables, but seeing how some of the produce doesn’t look that great I now base my decision on the following-
Buying in Season
Wouldn’t it be great if all our favorite fruits and vegetables were available year round? My rule of thumb is when a certain produce is in abundance buy the fresh version. Once the season winds down I start to take a different approach. I look at what’s available, how much it costs and compare it to what’s in the freezer section. Another thing to consider is what’s on sale. Most stores have some type of promotion on frozen vegetables at least once a month, so even in summer buying frozen often makes more sense. Another plus to buying frozen or canned is there’s no waste. Everything’s trimmed and prepared, so you know everything is going to be eaten, no more broccoli stalks or corn husks to toss away.
What Type of Recipe Am I Making?
I have lots of pasta recipes that use peas as one of the ingredients. I don’t know why but fresh peas aren’t something I see a lot of in the produce section so I’ve got no alternative but to use the frozen kind. The taste of the dish never seems to be compromised and it’s sometimes cheaper too.
How Does the Price Compare?
One dish I at make least once a month is vegetable lasagna and one of the main ingredients is spinach. For those of you who always buy the fresh variety you know that when spinach is cooked it becomes the incredible shrinking vegetable. The first time I used frozen spinach for this lasagna I did feel guilty, but now I know it makes perfect sense. One box of frozen spinach goes a lot further than a bag of fresh spinach and it cuts the preparation time in half. The bottom line is you still get a healthful meal and sometimes for pennies less.
Remember the Five Fruit and Vegetable A Day Recommendation
Do you sometimes skip making meals with fruits and vegetables because you haven’t got time to clean, peel and cook them? If that’s the case then definitely opt for the frozen or canned varieties.
I’m Throwing Away the Veggies
I don’t know anyone who’s not guilty of buying fresh produce only to let it sit and rot in the refrigerator. Frozen and canned foods have a longer shelf life. And having to toss away spoiled produce isn’t saving you money.
Sometimes the Taste is Better
One vegetable I really prefer in the canned variety is asparagus. I don’t know why, but the fresh version just doesn’t impress me. And if you have children who are picky about eating their veggies, you can add a few canned vegetables to the odd dish or two without them even knowing. Even frozen mixed vegetables can be added to things like casseroles and soups and usually children won’t complain.
I Don’t Have Those Ingredients
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve started to make a recipe and realized I don’t have a particular ingredient. One thing I always fall back on is my pantry supply of canned foods. Canned mushrooms is one that comes to mind. And in the middle of winter I always keep a couple of cans of peaches and cherries on hand.
Still Keep It Healthy
I do have one concern about canned foods and that’s their sodium and sugar content. For fruits I usually opt for the ones packed in their own juices and with beans and vegetables I make sure I give them a rinse with cold water. It won’t get rid of all the sodium but at least cuts down on some of it.