Fresh vs Frozen: Save time and money by buying frozen vegetables
Bad weather and cold temperatures can cause the price of vegetables to sky rocket at this time of year, making it expensive to get your daily dose of vegetables.
While winter seasonal vegetables like pumpkins, parsnips, cabbages, silverbeet and celery are filling the shelves at the moment, even they can be costly.
So how can you ensure that you are still dishing up your family’s vegetable requirements, without breaking the bank?
Frozen vegetables are a saviour in winter, coming in at a fraction of the cost of fresh vegetables. Not only are they a far better bang for your buck, they won’t go off in a few days like fresh vegetables do. The best thing is – they’re already prepped and chopped ready to go, saving time and money.
Nutritionally, frozen vegetables can be just as good, if not better, than the fresh version, according to nutrition expert Dr Libby Weaver.
“Frozen vegetables have virtually the same, if not slightly more nutrition than fresh vegetables,” said Weaver.
“When vegetables are picked, they begin to lose nutrients, so how long they’re left after harvesting impacts their nutritional value. Generally, frozen vegetables are frozen shortly after they’re harvested, they’re allowed to fully ripen, which means they contain good levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
“The freezing process actually in a way “locks in” many of these nutrients.”
But is it really cheaper to buy frozen vegetables?
To find out, we compared the cost of fresh versus frozen vegetables based on prices at Countdown online supermarket.
To buy a collection of family staples, including broccoli, carrots and peas, would cost $22.75 if you bought them all fresh, versus only $16.86 if you bought frozen versions – a saving of $5.89!
But wait, there’s more – for $16.86 you are getting four kilograms of frozen vegetables, which is double the amount of the fresh vegetables.
There were some exceptions where fresh trumped frozen in terms of cost, which was the case for cauliflower and carrots.
Tips for using frozen vegetables:
- Do not thaw frozen vegetables – they should be cooked from frozen. The one exception is frozen spinach, thaw it and then give it a good squeeze to get rid of any excess moisture.
- Frozen vegetables are best when steamed, not boiled.
- Because they have been blanched already, frozen vegetables cook quickly. Make sure you pay attention when cooking them so they don’t go soggy.
- They are great added into soups, casseroles and stews.
- Nothing is more disappointing than wilting a big bag of fresh spinach to end up with a tiny amount. Frozen spinach is already wilted so you are a getting a great bargain.
- Try one of these recipes for 10 different ways to use frozen fruit and vegetables in winter.
How to make fresh vegetables go further:
- Broccoli stalks are edible – and can be almost half of the vegetable, so if you’re buying a head of broccoli, make sure to eat the stalk. Here are 8 great ways you can eat broccoli stalks.
- Keep an eye out for “The Odd Bunch” at Countdown supermarkets – these are misshapen fruit and vegetables that sell for less than their prettier counterparts.
- Buy vegetables that still have their leaves attached, such as cauliflower and beetroot, as the leaves are edible and can be cooked like silverbeet. Try this cauliflower leaf pesto.
- You don’t need to peel most vegetables, but if you do, turn the peelings into veggie crisps.
- Don’t discard your silverbeet stalks – make them shine by using this recipe for Italian-style silverbeet stalks.