What's one of the best ways to stock up on produce while sticking to a budget... Go frozen!
Not only do frozen fruits and veggies tend to be less expensive, they last far longer than the fresh variety which can also help eliminate food waste. The best part, you don't necessarily have to sacrifice quality in order to add them to your diet. If you're still a bit hesitant about buying frozen over fresh you should know that frozen fruits and veggies are processed at the peak of ripeness, when their nutrient levels are highest. In most cases between eight to twelve hours after picking, there’s no time for critical nutrients to be lost during harvesting, packaging, or while sitting on shelves. Nutrients are immediately locked in!
Of course, not everything is best when bought frozen. Some items just don’t taste the same when frozen and others wind up lacking in texture. With that in mind, below is a list of must-buy fruits and vegetables you should always keep in-stock in your freezer...
Fresh broccoli begins to deteriorate and spoil after just a few days in the fridge. Cooking with frozen broccoli may save you more money and prevent food waste. Try steaming the frozen broccoli with a little butter, salt, and pepper. Draining or cooking off extra water so it's not soggy. To achieve the tender yet crunchy consistency of fresh broccoli, you can roast the broccoli on a sheet pan too. The best time to stick with fresh broccoli vs. frozen would be when you are going to grill it as your cooking method
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!
Brussels sprouts can be ridiculously expensive, especially when they're not in season. However, frozen Brussels sprouts are a lot less costly and tend to be shockingly consistent. You'll want to forego the defrosting to ensure you don't end up with mushy, bitter, or watery sprouts. Instead, coat them in a little olive oil and roast them for about 35 minutes, until they brown and form a nice caramelized crunch.
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!
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.
For those long months when sweet corn isn't in season, opt for frozen instead of canned. It's just as sweet as fresh ears and takes less time to cook. Another added bonus is that frozen corn generally has fewer calories and carbs than fresh corn.