When we head to the grocery store, we often find ourselves searching for the freshest options out there, intent on discovering the healthiest option. There is a lot of stigma surrounding the frozen food section, but buried among the various flavors of ice cream, frozen pizza and pre-packaged dinners are some true gems. We frequently suffer guilt when we make our way down the frozen food aisle, since we often associate frozen foods with high-calorie, high-fat, and completely unhealthy choices, but the truth is that there are some frozen foods out there that are worth a spot in your freezer! It is a common misconception that frozen foods are worse for you than fresh foods, plus they are often cheaper and can save you a ton of prep time in the kitchen. If you're ready to free up some time for yourself and room in your budget, check out these choices that you should buy frozen, not fresh!
Carrots: Sure, carrots might be available to purchase year-round, but from a money standpoint, you are better off buying frozen. Fresh carrots will cost around $3 in a grocery store, but two cups of pre-cut frozen carrots are only $1.50! Plus, frozen carrots will preserve the numerous qualities that carrots are known for, such as high levels of beta-carotene, improved vision and skin, cancer prevention and even anti-aging agents!
Broccoli: A fresh head of broccoli, while thoroughly infused with health benefits like anti-cancerous elements, high fiber, as much calcium as a glass of milk, and high content of vitamins A and C, has a relatively short shelf life. The nutrients actually begin to spoil after only one day in your fridge! Head to the freezer section for a bag of pre-cut broccoli that will save you money, and satisfy your healthy lifestyle.
Potatoes: Have you ever noticed those sprouts growing out of your potatoes when they've been laying out for just a little too long? Make sure you're careful — those little babies can be toxic! Buying frozen potatoes (chopped and everything!) can save you a lot of time and energy in your kitchen prep. Some brands even provide the pouches that you can microwave for an instant side dish to your favorite dinners.
Cherries: During that oh-so-brief time of the summer when cherries are actually in season, indulge as much as possible! Cherries are packed with antioxidants and may even reduce the risk of heart disease, so adding a handful to your day is a great way to stay healthy. However, once summer is over, cherries can be difficult to find. Make sure you keep the benefits of cherries in your diet all year long by heading to your frozen section!
>> Read more: Finding High-Quality Produce in the Dead of Winter
Shrimp: While the idea fresh seafood is enough to get your mouth watering, shrimp is super perishable. If you aren't going to serve it right away, you are much better off buying it frozen. It's cheaper than fresh meat, just as succulent, and often perfect for a weeknight meal when you are running short on time! Check out our Skinny Shrimp Stir Fry by clicking here.
Cauliflower: Cauliflower is swiftly gaining attention in the eyes of health professionals. It is packed with vitamin C, and has compounds that can actually inhibit the growth of cancer cells! Plus, there are a ton of inventive recipes out there that will get you your daily dose of this nutritious veggie if you aren't fond of the flavor. The even better news? Frozen cauliflower usually costs about $1.40 per 16-oz bag, as opposed to the 12-oz bag of fresh cauliflower that averages about $3.50.
Bell peppers: Don't run the risk that those fresh bell peppers are going to go bad; just half of a pepper will give you a full dose of vitamin A and double the vitamin C as an orange, but only as long as they're fresh. Their shelf life isn't long, so it is a much better option to head to your store's freezer section for some pre-chopped, cored, and seeded peppers that will be perfect for your favorite recipes! Try one of our favorites, Skinny Taco Stuffed Peppers, by clicking here!
Nuts and seeds: Surprised? We definitely were! Unbeknownst to most people, nuts and seeds (especially nuts that have been chopped into smaller pieces) can go bad pretty quickly because of their high fat content. Freezing them is an excellent way to preserve their delicious, earthy flavor and health benefits.
Spinach: The benefits of spinach are absolutely overwhelming, but unfortunately spinach can be super expensive, and a box of fresh lettuce will only last three to four days in your refrigerator. Enter frozen spinach: the perfect solution to your leafy problems! Your average box of spinach in the fresh section will cost about $4, but frozen spinach clocks in at about $2 for 10 ounces, and can remain nutrient-dense for weeks after purchase!
Berries: If you've ever been reluctant to add a crate of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries to your shopping cart because of those outrageous prices, it may be time to hit the frozen aisle! Berries start losing their nutrients right after they are picked, and by the time you grab a carton from the shelf at your grocery store, they could be days old! Frozen berries will contain the same amount of nutrients — if not more — as fresh berries, and are super cheap too!
>> Read more: Best Uses for Overly Ripened Fruit
You can avoid a lot of anxiety and excess planning by making these simple swaps! These frozen foods will last months, and are perfect for easy, stress-free cooking. For more information about frozen foods, check out our sources: The Daily Meal, PopSugar, and Eating Well.