This Shopping Tip Will Help You Save Money in the Freezer Aisle

published Jul 14, 2018
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(Image credit: Erik Isakson/Getty Images)

I love having frozen veggies on hand. It’s an easy way to go an extra day or two before I need to hit the grocery store or turn my leftover lunch into a more substantive meal. Recently, though, I was perusing the frozen veggie aisle at my Harris Teeter, and I noticed something: They have eight kinds of frozen broccoli, and some cost more than twice as much as others. What gives?

(Image credit: Ayn-Monique Klahre)

At first glance, there’s not a huge price range — all the bags of broccoli cost between $1.50 and $3 per bag. But some bags were two or three times the size of others, some were steamables, and some broccoli was organic versus regular.

Now that I’ve done a few price comparison stories for Kitchn, I’ve gotten a little obsessive about checking the unit prices on things. It can be so hard to compare apples to apples (or in this case, frozen broccoli to frozen broccoli), when the packaging sizes are different. So on this trip, I decided to really get in there and see how the price per ounce differentiates. Here’s what I saw.

  • HT Traders Baby Bud Broccoli Florets, $1.49 for 6.8 ounces ($0.124 per ounce)
  • Pictsweet Farms Family Size Deluxe Baby Broccoli Florets, $4.49 for 20 ounces ($0.225 per ounce)
  • Pictsweet Farms Steam’ables Broccoli Florets, $2.49 for 10 ounces($0.249 per ounce)
  • Birds Eye Baby Broccoli Florets, $2.99 for 12.6 ounces ($0.237 per ounce)
  • Birds Eye Steamfresh Broccoli Cuts, $2.39 for 10.8 ounces ($0.221 per ounce) [Note: Not just florets but — gasp — stems here, too!]
  • Birds Eye Steamfresh Broccoli Cuts, $2.89 for 19 ounces ($0.152 per ounce) [Note: Stems and florets!]
  • Earthbound Farm Organic Broccoli, $2.99 for 9 ounces ($0.332 per ounce)
  • Harris Teeter Organics Broccoli Florets, $2.79 for 16 ounces ($0.174 per ounce)
(Image credit: Ayn-Monique Klahre)

The main thing that struck me is that the ingredient list on each of these bags is literally just broccoli (or, in the organic case, organic broccoli). It’s not like one brand is adding anything special. These are just frozen veggies, people! Frozen corn is frozen corn. You get the point.

And the store brands were way cheaper than the brand-name versions, by almost half in some cases. While buying one brand versus another may only save you pennies at a time (sometimes dollars!), over the long term, that’s going to save you money. And if you don’t feel like geeking out over unit pricing like I do, just do this one thing: Buy the store brand.

It’s basically a shortcut to knowing that you’re probably getting the cheapest option. I understand if you want to pay more for the convenience of a steam bag or to be sure you’re getting organic veggies, but paying more for identical items in different packaging? I’d rather not!

What are the frozen veggies that are always in your freezer? And do you buy the store brand?