It takes some thought and work to make healthy choices and it can be expensive/time consuming to prepare your own meals with natural ingredients and whole foods. So how on earth do we make this work? One quick, cost effective and healthy solution is to utilize your freezer and buy frozen vegetables and fruits.
Let's look at the cost benefits of frozen. Take corn, for example. ShopRite sells frozen bags of corn kernels at $1.99 for a 24oz bag. They also sell fresh ears of corn in the produce section at $4.99 for a 4-pack. 1 medium ear of corn yields roughly 6oz of corn kernels, which equates to 4 ears of corn needed to match the 24oz bag of frozen. So, you can either buy:
- 24oz bag of frozen corn at $1.99 OR
- 4 ears (24oz) at $4.99
You save a whopping 3 bucks if you buy the frozen bag. In fact, you can get 48oz of frozen corn for the price of the fresh.
This is true for the corn, and yes ShopRite and other supermarkets have sales that will vary the cost. However, fresh produce goes to waste faster because... well... it's fresh produce. Most people don't use all of what they purchase when it is fresh just for that reason, not to mention, not everybody eats corn everyday.
Cooking with Frozen:
I'm not the professional on, "which is better for you frozen or fresh?" when it comes to produce. From what I've experienced, it makes no difference nutritionally whether you eat frozen or fresh vegetables. I find it so much easier to work with frozen produce as I can take as little or as much as I want with no waste. Not to mention you save money doing it.
There are many ways to work with frozen produce. One way is to put some of your favorite veggies into a microwave safe bowl and add about 1 cup of water. Microwave for a few minutes and drain the water. Now you have thawed, cooked veggies as a side dish without wasting a steam-able bag (which costs a lot of money) or wasting time preparing and washing fresh produce.
Another way I like to cook frozen vegetables is to start with your frying pan! Heat your pan on med-high with a serving of olive or safflower oil. Take a bag of frozen onions, mixed vegetables or whatever you plan on adding to your meal and measure out about a handful of each frozen bag. Throw it in the hot pan and let it thaw/cook. Add some brown rice and your favorite lean protein with a little bit of low sodium tomato sauce. Stir it all together and serve! You don't have to waste any time cooking healthy when you're on a time crunch. It's fun to do and helps me to maintain my weight while being busy.
Along with frozen veggies, supermarkets sell frozen fruit as well. I'm not a huge fan of frozen fruit as it's kind of hard to thaw it out unless you have some time to follow the instructions on the bag. Something cool and sweet I enjoy in the summer are frozen mango chucks. I eat them frozen right out of the bag. It is almost like eating an ice pop and has the same texture and consistency when you bite into it. Frozen fruit is also a great smoothie maker. Just take a cup of your favorite fruit blend and throw them into a blender. Add a scoop or two of low/non-fat Greek yogurt, a banana and some spinach and blend it all together. You have a sweet, rich and creamy option that is jam packed with nutrients and tastes divine! Not to mention you save time and money with frozen fruit.
I do enjoy having fresh veggies/fruit when I can afford it and feel like having them. If you're looking for a way to have a quick meal that is cost effective AND healthy, then frozen is definitely the way to go! I have posted some information about fresh vs. frozen below for your perusal:
1. Fresh vs. Frozen
2. Frozen Vegetables are Hot!