I’m going to keep this simple. I’m a nutritionist, and sometimes I vote for frozen fruits and veggies instead of the fresh stuff — even in the summer. Seriously! It’s one of the best ways to stock up on produce while sticking to a budget. If you’re one of those folks who believe that frozen is less superior than fresh, then let me correct that myth now.
See, frozen fruits and veggies can actually be healthier than fresh produce in some cases. Frozen foods are picked when they’re ripe and then frozen almost immediately, in most cases between eight to 12 hours (!!!), so there’s no time for critical nutrients to be lost during harvesting, packaging, or while sitting on shelves for weeks at a time. They’re immediately locked in!
Frozen produce is usually less expensive and it’ll save you money in the long-run, because you have more time to eat it and don’t have to worry about stuff spoiling before you can get to it. You can take your sweet time!
Of course, not everything is best when bought frozen. Some items just don’t taste so hot when frozen and others wind up lacking in texture. With that in mind, I’ve rounded up 12 of my must-buy frozen grocery items.
1. Dark Sweet Cherries
Anyone who’s ever bought fresh cherries knows you’ll pay a premium price for them. Go frozen and you can get dark sweet cherries (which are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients that support a healthy gut) for a super-affordable price! Use them in smoothies, healthy desserts, or homemade oatmeal; add them to yogurt; or make your own jam with them!
2. Organic Berries
Berries are consistently on the Dirty Dozen list each year, so they’re one of the things you should buy organic whenever possible. And buying frozen should help make that more possible, because the prices are much more affordable. Buy a mixture or separate bags of your favorite berries and use them in smoothies or on top of hot and cold cereals, make your own homemade jam with them, use them in healthy desserts, or add them to your favorite yogurt. I also love them as a snack right out of the freezer!
3. Specialty Exotic Fruits
I’ve never seen fresh acai berries at my supermarkets, and I’ve been less than impressed with the fresh dragonfruit that I have managed to find. Luckily, you can find both in the frozen section at most stores these days. Look out for blends of a few different kinds of fruit and add them to your next smoothie if you want to try something new.
Edamame is an excellent source of plant-based protein, it’s high in fiber, and it even contains some healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which we need for optimal brain and heart health. It’s also very affordable to buy in frozen form and makes for a terrific snack. Just let some thaw on the counter or nuke a bowl in the microwave.
This super-healthy cruciferous veggie may be delicious when fresh, but — let’s be honest — the frozen stuff is far easier to prepare. The only time I say to definitely get fresh is when you want to grill it.
6. Brussels Sprouts
Sure, you can find Brussels sprouts in the produce section pretty much year-round, but they’re not going to be the best in the summer. And in the freezer section, you can find them for just cents on the dollar. I find the frozen ones to be shockingly consistent.
7. Green Beans
In my book, fresh (and even canned) green beans are tasty, but frozen green beans are consistently more flavorful and have a better texture. And they’re easier to find! Look for cut forms, longer forms, or thinner green beans (like haricots verts). No matter how you buy them, they’re all nutritious: They’re full of fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants, and they’re a good source of plant-based protein.
Fresh asparagus is one of my favorite things about summer. However, I opt for frozen 90% of the time the rest of the year. I break a bunch up into pieces and add them to stir-fries, I grill whole spears (see my favorite here!), and sneak bits into soups and stews. I love that they’re ready to go right out of the bag — no trimming required.
9. Riced Cauliflower
I beg you: Please stop wasting your time making your own riced cauliflower! Truly, the frozen bagged stuff is a major time-saver and will last a while in your freezer. And now, due to popular demand, you can find a bunch of options in any grocer’s freezer aisle.
Related: The Best Flavored Cauliflower Rice in the Freezer Section
10. Spiralized Zucchini
It’s hard to say which is trendier in the freezer aisle these days: riced cauliflower or spiralized zucchini. Actually, make that all sorts of spiralized vegetables (I’m talking beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash). Tip: Just make sure you drain these veggies before you cook them and you’ll be good to go.
11. Pre-Made Smoothie Packs
When I’m the most on top of it, I’ll make my own smoothie packs, but we all get busy and that’s where pre-made packs come in. They’re everywhere these days and feature some of the healthiest fruits and veggies. Plus, they come in perfect portions. You’ll pay a little more for these than if you make your own, but you sure can’t beat their convenience!
12. Mixed Vegetable Blends
Mixed veggies are a no-brainer when it comes to frozen food purchases. These are the perfect meal prep staple; steam them or use them in soups, stews, curries, stir-fries, Instant Pot- and slow-cooker meals, and even casseroles. Change up what varieties you buy and buy in bulk to save even more money.
What fruits and veggies do you always buy frozen?
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