Some people think that there is no difference between fresh foods and their frozen counterparts. However others will tell you that anything that isn’t fresh is totally inferior. So what are we to believe?
When it comes to vegetables, there really isn’t all that much difference between the fresh and the frozen types. In most cases, the frozen vegetables are often snap frozen when the vegetable is at its best, and so it’s preserved when it has the highest nutrient value. But it’s also true that while fresh vegetables are considered to give your more nutrients, the older the vegetable gets the more it loses it’s nutrient value anyway so you might not actually be purchasing a ‘fresh vegetable’ when you thought you were.
So would it be better to eat that broccoli that’s been sitting on the shelf at the supermarket for a week, or get the frozen packet of broccoli?
Life is about balance
In the long run, it really doesn’t matter. If you’re eating a variety of vegetables and you’re mixing it up between fresh and frozen vegetables, then you’re going to be getting enough nutrients to keep you healthy.
Your life needs to be balanced between the good and the bad, the busy and the relaxing, the healthy and the treats, so you can have an optimal life. And it’s no different in the kitchen. A balance of healthy and unhealthy foods is what you need. So you can also get away with a balance between fresh and frozen vegetables too because the amount of nutrients in each will balance each other out.
The practicalities of running a home
In your every day life you’re going to have to make decisions about the foods you eat based on the time you have available to you to prepare and eat a meal. Some days you’ll have plenty of time so you’ll be happy to spend the extra minutes peeling and chopping something fresh. Other days you’re pushed for time so you’ll use the frozen vegetables. That’s just the practicality of running a home.
It might not be time that is your constraint. You might need to keep the budget tight this week so the frozen vegetables are going to be the wiser choice for you because a big packet of frozen veg can go further than a single head of broccoli. It could be that this week you don’t need to save so you can splash out on exotic mushrooms.
So in order to be practical about the whole issue, lets look at the times when you may want to use fresh vs the times when you want to use frozen.
When to use fresh vegetables
It’s easiest to use fresh vegetables when:
- You have the time to prepare them.
- You have the space to store them (fresh take up more space in the fridge and cupboards than frozen veg do).
- You want to make a quick cooking recipe like a stir-fry.
- You’re making salads.
When to use frozen vegetables
Use frozen vegetables when:
- You need to keep the budget tight.
- You don’t have the time to prepare fresh veg.
- You’re cooking meals such as casseroles, stews, soups and curries.
- If you’re making vegetable patties which will be frozen for later use anyway.
- Seasonal vegetables are unavailable.
Tips for using fresh and frozen vegetables
When you use fresh and frozen vegetables keep the following in mind:
- Vegetables will lose the most nutrients if they’re boiled.
- Cooking vegetables by stir-frying, steaming or microwaving helps keep the most nutrients in the vegetables.
- If you’re adding frozen vegetables to a meal while they’re still frozen make sure you adjust the liquid content of the recipe as frozen veg will leak more water than fresh will.
- Some fresh vegetables can be frozen at home to help you use them while they’re at their best. In general don’t freeze vegetables with high water contents like lettuce, cucumber and zucchini. Instead freeze vegetables like onions, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, peas and green beans.
What about canned vegetables?
They are no different to fresh or frozen so you can use them as well. Just be mindful of the salt content of canned foods (as they are canned in brine which is a salt and water mix) so always rinse them before using them in a recipe. Always use less salt in a recipe that uses unwashed canned vegetables.
So, after all that, will you be using the fresh or the frozen vegetables? Leave a comment so we can hear your thoughts on this prickly debate.