Fresh, Frozen, or Canned? How do you buy your food?

I grew up eating canned veggies and fruits, except for things like onions, potatoes, salad items, and bananas, oranges, grapes, and apples. When I got married, I discovered my MIL used frozen veggies a lot, and I found they tasted so much better than the canned stuff. I also got brave and started cooking with more fresh produce, and living in Amish country, I get all kinds of fresh goodies in season.

Fresh: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, corn, green beans, salad items, peaches, pineapple, berries, potatoes, mushrooms, and probably some other things I’m forgetting

Frozen: peas, corn, brussels sprouts, some potato items, broccoli and cauliflower if the fresh doesn’t look good, mixed veggies, peas-n-carrots, green beans

Canned: red beets, tomato sauce/paste, chopped tomatoes, pumpkin (for pies) and peaches, pears, and pineapple.

The only problem I have is a relatively small freezer and a very large pantry, so one is crammed and the other, not to much. Still, I’d rather shop more frequently than have a pantry full of canned veggies.

We also ate a lot of canned vegetables when I was growing up. I hated them. I thought I hated vegetables. I didn’t realize until I was an adult that spinach was a leafy vegetable, and not green slime coming out of a can.

Fresh is pretty much all I buy now, unless they are vegetables that are going to get cooked into something, like chili. I make an excellent spinach lasagna with frozen spinach.

Fortunately, we have a number of good grocery stores in our immediate area that carry an excellent selection of fresh produce year-round.

Regarding beets, skip the canned and get fresh ones. Roast them in the oven. They are amazing. Much better than canned.

Fresh veggies as much as possible. I find that if I plan for 2 grocery store visits a week, it’s possible to keep enough fresh in the fridge to feed Mr. Athena and I.

The staples are:

Yellow onions
Red onions
Tomatoes (cherry tomatoes from Mexico except when the local tomatoes come into season)
Red, yellow, or orange bell peppers

I try to keep around 1-2 of the following, depending on season:

Brussels Sprouts
Green cabbage
String beans
Winter squash

On occasion, as the mood strikes me or when in season:

Corn on the cob




Beans (for when I’m in a pinch. I much prefer cooking my own from dried beans)
Artichoke hearts (I like 'em on pizza)

Growing up in the Midwest in the 70s, where cream of mushroom soup was one of the four food groups, almost all veggies were either frozen or fresh. Pretty much all that came in cans for us was soup or tomato sauce.

Wasn’t until my adult life that I found out spinach came in discrete leaves rather than a solid frozen block of green stuff.

Today, the staples like corn or peas come frozen, tomato products are canned, and most everything else is bought fresh, and more often than not, bought the day of, or one day before, eating as we’re about half a mile away from two grocery stores.

What **Athena **said

Mostly fresh, a smidgen of frozen. Canned vegetables (other than sauced tomatoes) are unfit to feed POWs. Canned fruit is not much better.

Yeah, fresh vegetables only, for regular use.

Canned tomatoes for sauce (crushed or stewed, mostly). Now that Canadian kumatoes are available, I keep fresh tomatoes in the house all year round. For sandwiches and salads and suchlike. Local tomatoes from late July through October. Mainly eaten out of hand, a salt shaker in the other, standing over the sink, making gobbling and delighted crooning noises.

I keep frozen peas and Lima beans. The peas are used very infrequently. I happen to be very fond of Lima beans stewed with onions and hot pepper in chicken stock.

The option you left out: dried. Pasta, beans, rice, dried veg.

I’m old and I live alone; if it weren’t for frozen food, I’d starve to death.

We grow most of our veg, so extremely fresh when it’s in season. When it isn’t, frozen is often a good choice because it’s picked when ripe then flash-frozen, unlike the veg they ship to grocery stores that is picked under-ripe. Canned vegetables are just gross.

A magic fairy throws frozen meat and veggies in my freezer after I leave for work. Someone else is slipping canned goods into my pantry. Those last there much longer than the freezer. During summer my wife tries to get us to eat fresher stuff from the farmer’s markets. Actually that stuff is used more for grazing on as snack foods.

I wish I could say more fresh, but we simply don’t use it fast enough for it not to seem wasteful because I end up composting so much of it. It’s frozen, for the most part. If I’m making something for an occasion, sure, fresh. And sometimes I get it together to buy fresh and freeze what we won’t use immediately.

I keep a few cans of things for specific recipes, mostly things like comfort food casseroles from my childhood.

Mostly fresh and some frozen. About the only canned “single topic” things we keep are a little fruit and some mushrooms. Most of our cans are fast meals like stews and soups.

Fresh. I’m not eating as much as I used to, but I make my own breakfasts, roast my own coffee, and pretty much only eat salads when I go out to eat.

Our grocery shopping (as a general rule to which there are considerable exceptions) breaks down roughly to

Frozen – 40%
Packaged and Refrigerated – 20%
Packaged/Canned Pantry – 10%
Fresh Pantry or Fridge – 10%
Junk food and snacks – 20%

In addition to grocery store things, we order in several times per week, or else I go to a fast food place for it. That “outside” component of our food purchases is probably in the 15% range of our weekly eating so all those percentages above make up maybe 85% of what we eat.

If I were to keep close tabs on it, instead of relying on memory, I’m sure those estimates would vary quite a bit. :slight_smile:

I don’t buy them often, but the only fresh produce I would get are grapes, bananas, watermelon and cantaloupe, and potatoes, onions and garlic. Fresh vegetables go bad before I use them and most fresh fruit is too intense for me.

Other vegetables I get frozen (broccoli, corn, green beans). Strawberries I get frozen and add to oatmeal. Other fruits I get canned/jarred (usually applesauce, pineapple, peaches, pears). That’s what I grew up with.

But mostly I eat frozen dinners, cold cut sandwiches, eggs, cold cereal, canned or deli soup, bagels/toast.

Mostly fresh everything.

[li]Tomatoes for sauces, including whole, diced, and pureed.[/li][li]Pinto beans as a backup for fresh.[/li][li]Garbanzos as a backup for fresh.[/li][li]Plain baked beans as primary source of baked beans. I rinse them and make my own sauce, though.[/li][li]Coconut milk.[/li][li]Jalapeños, although I’m considering “jars” as cans.[/li][li]Olives (jars), black, green, Kalamata, whatever.[/li][li]Pickles (jars)[/li][li]Mole as a primary, because mole is long and arduous to make.[/li][li]Whatever my “canning” relatives give me.[/li][li]Tuna fish (if I say “tuna fish” it’s canned; otherwise it’s just “tuna”)[/li][li]Emergency Spam.[/li][/ul]

[li]French fries (when I want them, not currently though)[/li][li]Hash browns (when I want them, not currently though)[/li][li]Broccoli, only for making soup or casseroles. Horrible for other purposes![/li][li]Berries, for smoothies.[/li][/ul]

Things I freeze myself:
[li]Bananas, for smoothies.[/li][li]Garlic, peeled, for cooked recipes, so they’re always handy.[/li][li]Stock, broth, leftover marinading stuff for re-use, homemade chile paste, stuff like that.[/li][/ul]

[li]Everything else.[/li][/ul]

Frozen, not can mushy, and it’s ready when I am, it does not rot like fresh if i don’t use it in time. Also many are precut, saving prep time. Additionally onions don’t need to be cut so no tears.

Some of each, but mostly fresh here in our household. Our most commonly-used recipes need fresh vegetables, so those just end up being the majority of what we buy.

Fresh almost always. Sometimes frozen fruit for specific things, like stuff I’m just going to blend up anyway. Canned beans (kidney beans, black beans, baked beans) usually.

You left out ‘dried’!

Overall, we tend to opt for fresh when we can find it fresh, frozen if not, and canned when nothing else is available, or canned is the default (like say… anchovies, coconut milk, curry paste, etc…)

That said, there are exceptions. We usually opt for dried beans and peas over canned ones, as they already are cooked and are usually pretty salty. They don’t work right in a lot of classic recipes either. Canned tomatoes are usually better for things like sauces and cooked applications, as they’re picked riper than retail fresh tomatoes, since they don’t undergo as much storage and handling. Same with frozen fruit vs. fresh; a lot of time the frozen stuff is riper than the fresh versions, and works better for cooked dishes. And if we’re making a lot of something, sometimes the frozen mirepoix/cajun trinity/chopped onions are a very helpful shortcut.

In some things, we’re better off without, than using canned/non-fresh versions. Lime juice for mixed drinks, as a good example. A daiquiri with bottled/canned lime juice is ghastly, but one with fresh lime juice is terrific.