Updated: Apr 23, 2022
There are a lot of variables to consider when choosing produce such as budget, home storage ability, access, and nutrient content. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, there is often a lot of confusion as to which is better: fresh or frozen. So, let's break it down!
Fresh versus frozen - so what's the difference?
Fresh - Fresh fruits and vegetables are raw, unprocessed whole fruits and vegetables. Most fresh fruits and vegetables available at the store are picked before their peak.
Frozen - Frozen fruits and vegetables picked at their peak ripeness, prepared (peeled, chopped, etc) and frozen. Usually ready-to-eat since they are ripe and prepared before freezing.
Now that we know the basic difference, which is better? Bad news is, there isn't one right answer here. Good news is, both are super nutritious so you can feel good about whichever one you choose!
Here are a few factors to consider:
1. Shelf life
Frozen fruits tend to last several months or up to a year if properly stored in a working freezer.
On the other hand, fresh fruits and vegetables typically stay good for a shorter period of time. Some vegetables like potatoes and onions may last up to several weeks or months while some fresh fruits, such as berries and avocados, may only last a few days on the kitchen counter or in the refrigerator.
Although frozen foods last longer, they also require freezer space. If you have a small freezer space or no freezer at all, this obviously makes buying frozen produce a challenge.
Some fresh fruits and veggies require refrigeration but some can be simply left on the counter! The ability to store fresh produce more easily makes them convenient if storage space is an issue.
Frozen fruits and vegetables tend to be more cost efficient. They often come in large bags at lower costs. The fact that they take longer to go bad also allows us to enjoy them for longer and purchase them less often, reducing overall costs.
Fresh produce often costs more when compared to frozen. When we buy fresh, we often have to buy these items more frequently, as we go through them more quickly to forget about them until they go bad. Buying fresh fruits and vegetable usually ends in spending more, regardless of whether or not we eat them.
both fresh and frozen are super nutritious and great choices! Be sure to weigh your options and choose what suits you, your family, and your budget best!
Frozen fruits are picked as they are ripe and, thanks to freezing, can keep their peak nutrient content for several months! This means that each time we eat them (within a reasonable time frame), we get lots of nutrients and flavor.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are picked before their peak. This helps keep most of these fruits and vegetables from going bad by the time they reach store shelves. Although they may be a perfect amount of ripe when they reach shelves, this means that there is also a change that they may be under-ripe or over-ripe when they get there. Although we'll still get nutrients from these fruits and vegetables, they may not be at their highest concentration or quite as flavorful.
Depending where you shop, you may not have access to fresh and/or frozen fruits and vegetables. Choosing fresh may be more realistic if you live in an area where you have to travel a long distance to your home to ensure the produce doesn't go bad. There are also certain places where frozen fruits are often unavailable such as at farmers markets and convenience stores.
If you require public transportation or have a hard time getting to the store on a regular basis, choosing frozen may allow you to have fruits and vegetables at home more often if you've got the storage for it. It can be helpful to stock up so that you have fruits and vegetables that are ready to eat home when you want/need them! If you're traveling far, it may also be helpful to take a cooler if possible to make sure these items stay frozen!
The Bottom Line
There are so many factors to consider when choosing the foods we eat. It's important to choose the foods that fit into your budget that you are want to eat. If you prefer buying fruits and vegetables fresh from a local market or when on your weekly grocery visit, go for it! If you're trying to keep costs low or want to make sure your fruits and vegetables last, frozen is a totally healthy and nutritious option!