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Drop the Weight with EJ: Can You Still Get the Nutrition You Need from Canned and Frozen Fruit & Vegetables?



IMG_4385 SmallThe short answer to this question is yes, but….

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.

Canned Tomatoes
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.

Canned Beans
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
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
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.

Canned Vegetables
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.

EJ (Ejiro) is a writer/engineer/mom. She writes about healthy living to help busy professional women lose weight, keep it off—and actually feel amazing. She created a Registered Trademarked System (VAFs®) for healthy eating for weight loss and wrote the book Weight Loss for High Achievers to help busy women lose weight and let go of the idea that the only way to succeed is to diet for the rest of their lives. With EJ's methods, dieting isn't required and neither is spending hours in the gym for meager results. P.S. If you want to get the goal-crushing motivation to reach your weight loss goal, then you'll want to get the first chapter of EJ's book for FREE. Click here to get it now.


  1. Anon

    June 10, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I don’t think fresh food is expensive. Besides, there are different grades that cater to people’s budgets. I stay away from processed food as much as i can. The worst is canned fruit. They are very syrupy with a high content of corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.

    Processed foods also contain a lot of colouring, preservatives, texturants, artificial flavour and artificial ingredients. They are triggers for free radicals that “oxidise sensitive biological molecules” that can cause cancer. They are low in fibre because fibre is lost during processing and/or intentionally removed during processing.

    Try cooking your pot of stew with fresh tomatoes instead of tinned plum tomatoes. The difference is clear. Try making stir fry from fresh vegetables you have bought and cut up.. It tastes better. A medium sized pineapple is £1 in the supermarket. But a tin of Libby’s fruit is how much? I don’t know. Probably more than a pound. You will finish the tin at one sitting. but your fresh pineapple can last you for 2 days. I buy fresh fruits, cut them up and freeze them for my smoothies. The goodness of eating fresh food is endless. Your body will thank you.

  2. @edDREAMZ

    June 10, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    a.k.a EDWIN CHINEDU AZUBUKO said..
    Thats nice though….

  3. ayda

    June 10, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Are you living in this country and writing this? Who doesn’t know it’s cheaper to buy fresh fruit and vegetables instead of buying this fancy “awayian” canned stuff?? Please do your research. Its so irritating seeing these articles from Diaspora people who have NO clue what’s happening here in 9ja and yet have ALL the answers!

    • Ba

      June 10, 2015 at 11:18 pm

      I agree with you.

  4. Ada_ugo

    June 11, 2015 at 5:14 am

    I’m surprised there’s no mention of preservatives, which are the main issue associated with canned food.

    • EJ Ogenyi

      June 11, 2015 at 7:52 pm

      Hello Ada_ugo,

      You make a fantastic point about preservatives. This is why I always say to read the ingredient list to make sure that there’s nothing on there you don’t recognize or that you’ll rather not eat. Thank you for calling readers attention to this in the comments.

      Have an amazing day,



    June 11, 2015 at 7:39 am

    I only do canned fruits when I can’t find in the “fresh” section. My vegetables especially “ugu” are bought from the local market, cut then frozen for smoothies. Truth is, I buy frozen mixed vegetables because I am lazy and it’s easier but it is more expensive than the ones from the local market….
    Anyhoo, there’s no hard and fast rule’s not caste on stone. Do as it fits you, in healthy eating and weightloss there is no follow follow..

    • EJ Ogenyi

      June 11, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      Hello Slimqueenie,

      Thanks for sharing the frozen ugu idea. I never thought to do that. I’ve frozen onions, cabbage, and broccoli in the past but never done my own leafy greens; i’ll be sure to try that. I do buy frozen spinach for soups because you’re right it’s so much easier than chopping and that’s another aspect of healthy eating being a little more “expensive” not just in money but in time. Great addition to the conversation.

      Have an amazing day,


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