When you want to use eating healthy as a strategy for dropping the weight, adding more fruits and vegetables to your meal plan is a sure way to success. But the financial cost of all that fresh food can sometimes discourage even the most motivated of us lifestyle changers.
The good news is you don’t have to spend all your money on fresh all the time as there are some fruit and vegetable options that still offer benefit when canned or frozen. But first let’s address why you might think that you have to eat all fresh ask the time.
There’s validity to the desire to eat strictly fresh because fruit and vegetables have the most nutrition when they’re freshly picked. Unfortunately since most of us shop at markets or supermarkets that are far removed from the farms this product comes from, we’re not getting these things at peak freshness anyway. So let’s get over that hang up and explore your options.
This is probably the most popular canned food option and you probably use it for stews and sauces all the time. Well keep doing so. You can try using whole plum tomatoes that are canned in sauce for recipes that require fresh. As for the nutrition there is some evidence based research that canned tomatoes pack more lycopene (an antioxidant) than the fresh kind. This is especially true for tomato paste. This lycopene is also more available to you when the tomatoes are cooked in oil. So cook away while using oil in moderation to get the most benefit.
Pay Attention: One thing to be mindful of is that some manufacturers add sugar to their tomato products. Avoid this added sugar by reading the ingredients list to make sure the only sugar on the menu comes from the tomatoes themselves by looking out for sugar.
You might be surprised to find beans on this list, but you can actually count beans as a serving of vegetables or a serving of protein. Stocking up on canned beans allows you to always have protein at the ready for smoothies or to top your rice and stew; plus there’s the added bonus of counting it as a serving of vegetables.
Pay Attention: Two things to be mindful of are serving sizes as beans do have more calories than vegetables like spinach and the fact that beans are also canned with salt. The first can be tackled by being mindful of portions and you can take care of the second by rinsing the beans under running water before heating and serving. So stock up at home and even keep some at your desk for a quick snack or a cheap way to add protein/vegetables to your lunch.
Frozen fruit make it so easy to whip up smoothies at a moments notice. They’re also a fantastic way to sweeten your morning oatmeal. With frozen fruit, you don’t always have to buy the store brands. You can actually freeze your own. My mom is a fan of freezing bananas and she won me over when she came to help me take care of my new baby. My frozen bananas go in oatmeal or a quick smoothie for days when you need a one handed meal.
Pay Attention: Be careful of added ingredients, so when you’re shopping for store brand fruit make sure fruits are the only things listed.
Frozen vegetables can be a dinner saver especially if you have a microwave and you can get the steam-in-bag options. They go well as a side dish for rice and stew, as the vegetable option in stir fries, or even as a stand alone snack with some nuts for fat and fat-free yogurt for protein.
Pay Attention: Some frozen vegetables come with sauces, so read the nutrition labels to make sure you’re not adding too many unnecessary calories or eating things you’d rather pass on.
Packed and Canned Fruit
Packed and canned fruit are a good way to get fruit servings in especially as a snack when paired with nuts for more satiety. But they can also be a minefield of calories. They’re sometimes packed in syrup and that can rack up unnecessary sugar and calories.
Pay Attention: If you have your eye on this type of packaged produce, go for the ones that are packed in their own juice. You can drink the juice if you want or you can skip it and eat the fruit alone. If you’re not one to throw away good juice, you can save the juice to use for a stir fry sauce later; you still the calories but including it in a meal that’s protein and vegetable-packed will save you the sugar high.
Finally canned vegetables like green beans, corn, and peas can save you time when trying to get dinner on the table in a hurry. They won’t work as well with stir fries, but they make great side dishes.
Pay Attention: The trouble with canned vegetables is that most of the canned vegetable options are either packed with salt or submerged in creamy sauces. To get over these two pitfalls, rinse before heating and eating to reduce the salt quantity and skip the ones with cream.
Over to You
Do you see yourself using this information to reduce your food bill by buying some canned or frozen fruits and vegetables? If so share what you’ll choose to buy fresh and what you’ll choose to buy packaged.