Are Steamer Bags Worth the Money?

frozen vegetablesI’m all for increasing the amount of vegetables in the diet. Vegetables provide nutrients we can’t get from other foods plus they are low in calories and high in fiber. I also think frozen vegetables are a great value. They are usually flash frozen right after they are picked so they may have more nutrients than fresh vegetables that have spent a long time traveling across the country. Sometimes they are less expensive than fresh vegetables, and they are already cleaned and prepared.

A few years ago manufacturers began selling frozen vegetables that can be microwaved in the bag they are sold in. Microwave steam bag vegetables are supposed to be a healthy solution for those who want to increase their vegetable intake without sacrificing convenience. These “steamers” have gotten so popular that it is hard to find frozen bags of vegetables that are not “steamers”.

I just don’t get why these are so popular!

1)  They are more expensive.  An ounce of frozen mixed vegetables in the steamer bags in central Iowa cost between  $.10 to $.14 an ounce. While the same food in plain plastic bag cost $.08-.09 ounce.  (Sometimes the bags cost the same, but the “steamer” bags had only ¾ as much as the plain bags).

2) I can’t see that they save much time or save washing dishes. 

a. The advantage of frozen bags of vegetables has always been that you could take out just what you need and put the rest back in the freezer. With “steamer” bags you have to cook the whole bag to get the steamer effect.  I think this leads to wasted leftover vegetables.
b. Unless you serve the vegetables in the plastic bag you still have to get a container dirty.

I cook frozen vegetables without the aid of this specialized packaging. All it takes is a microwave safe serving bowl and some ordinary plastic wrap or a lidded microwave-safe container. I put about a cup of vegetables per person in the bowl, add about 1 tablespoon of water, cover and cook on high 2-5 minutes, depending on how much is in the bowl. If you’re unsure how much time is needed, start at two minutes. Keep cooking the vegetables for an additional one minute at a time until hot.

Before you jump on the steaming bag trend, make sure you compare the price per ounce and think about whether it will really save you time.


6 thoughts on “Are Steamer Bags Worth the Money?

  1. Yes, you are right. These streamer bags are expensive and not convenient too but people still like them. They just “think” they are.

  2. Is a microwave steamer worthwhile, or is the end result pretty much the same with a small amount of water in a covered dish? Thoughts?

  3. I just found your post, though it’s over two years old. I am frustrated by the fact that now, in 2016, I am having great difficulty finding frozen vegetables NOT sold in “steamer” packaging. Why do I have to pay more for less?

    I am also very concerned about heating vegetables to a high temperature in a pliable plastic container. So far, in all the testing I could find regarding this packaging material the tests have mostly been concerned with BPA and pthalates. There are literally hundreds of compounds besides BPA’s that leach out of plastic that is heated. Most of these have not been tested for carcinogenic properties, but let’s be practical here. What does burning plastic smell like to you? Do you want that in your body? I’m not waiting for the testing that may or may not happen.

    In the meantime, I sure would appreciate alternatives that are reasonably priced to return to my grocery store.

    Please update and repeat your blog as I think it is an important warning for families. Thank you.

  4. Personally, I feel it is a gimmick to put less product and charge more for the item. I prefer steamed veggies, but not at the cost of using these bags. The difference in the cost per ounce is staggering, and in some cases it is the only way the vegetable is available. Many of the vegetables offered are labeled as WIC approved, but if they were available in non-steamer bags, they would be cheaper. Such a shame that this is being marketed that way.

  5. I agree wholeheartedly with the person who wrote the reply dated 2016. This is now 2017 and there are many frozen vegetables that now come only (at least in NW Ohio) in the steamable bags. It used to be that two packages of frozen asparagus were enough to feed a family of four for supper. Now three packages (each at a higher price) just barely make it. Most kitchen microwaves now come with a sensor setting for frozen vegetables, so it’s easy just to put plain frozen vegetables in a glass bowl, hit the sensor setting, and cook. In this case, simpler is so much better!

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