Fruits and vegetables come in many forms – they can be fresh, frozen, canned, or dried! Each of these has their pros and cons, and you can decide which options work best for you and your family’s needs. Using all these forms can make for an efficient and cost-effective pantry!
Fresh produce gets a lot of hype because it is the least processed form. When they are in season, fresh fruits and vegetables are often the cheapest, healthiest, and most delicious option.
Fresh produce has the shortest shelf life out of all the forms of produce. When they are not local or not in season, they can be very expensive and lose some of their nutritional quality as they travel from where they were grown to you.
Frozen produce is so convenient! They are usually ready-to-cook right out of the bag, so you can easily add frozen vegetables or fruit to your meal. Frozen fruits and vegetables last up to about 6 months in your freezer, so you don’t have to worry too much about them going bad. Frozen products are flash-frozen at the peak of freshness, so they retain most of their nutrients!
Sometimes frozen produce needs to be thawed in advance, depending on the recipe. And although they are usually affordable, some frozen products can be more expensive because of the additional steps in the process.
Canned produce keeps for a very long time – up to 2-4 years – and is often one of the cheapest options, especially when the produce is not in season. Canned produce is also convenient to use because it is precooked before the canning process. Like frozen foods, canned products are packaged at the peak of freshness and retain most of their nutrients.
Canning may change the taste or texture of produce, and the item may have added salt, sugar, and/or fat. But there are canned food options that have no or fewer added ingredients, and you can rinse the products to remove some of the excess sugar, salt, or fat.
Dried produce keeps for a longer time than fresh produce and can be used for a variety of dishes and meals! Raisins, dried cherries, dried apricots, and other fruits are great in desserts, salads, and snacks. Dried veggies make great crunchy snacks!
Sometimes, dried produce has added salt and/or sugar, but you can find this information in the ingredients list and make your choices accordingly.
What are some ways you use your favorite fresh, frozen, canned, and dried produce?
Do you receive SNAP/EBT benefits? You can double your spending power at farmers markets and get $5 for every $10 you spend on produce at any participating retailer! Visit freshbuckseattle.org to learn more.