Last week Christine shared some tips for storing produce so you can enjoy it before it spoils. One of the tips was to mix up the form of fruits and veggies that you use. As she mentioned, all forms can be part of a healthy eating pattern. Using different forms of produce in my meal plans helps my family and I eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables while still staying within my budget and the amount of time I have to spend in the kitchen.
Here are some questions I ask myself when I’m deciding which form to buy.
- Is the produce in season? I buy fresh produce when it’s in season. It costs less and is likely to be at it’s peak flavor. When it’s not in season, I don’t buy it or I buy it frozen or canned. You can freeze extra produce if time and space allow for use at a later time. For more information on freezing produce, check out this handout.
- How will I use the produce? For example, if I’ll use tomatoes in a soup or stew, I’ll most often choose canned tomatoes. However, if I’m using the tomatoes in a salad, fresh tomatoes are probably a better choice.
- How much waste is there? If I buy fresh broccoli, I’ll pay for the entire weight, even though my recipe might only call for florets. In this case, I may choose the frozen broccoli florets.
- How much time will it save me overall? In addition to the cooking time, I also think about the preparation and clean-up time. When I’m short on time during the week, I plan meals that use produce that takes little time to prepare. For me, this means I use more frozen and canned options on weeknights.
Here are some of the different forms of fruits and vegetables that my family enjoys for our meals and snacks.
Fresh: baby carrots, bell peppers, snap peas, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, apples, bananas, oranges, pears, grapes, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries
Frozen: peas, corn, carrots, broccoli, stir fry vegetables, mixed vegetables, blueberries, and mixed berries
Canned: black beans, tomatoes, green beans, pineapple, mandarin oranges, and applesauce
Dried: raisins and cranberries
Juice: 100% orange juice
For more information, watch our video on How to Get the Best Deal on Fruits and Vegetables.