My kids love smoothies, so I've been tossing those bags of frozen fruit into my shopping cart for years. It's a no-brainer in the winter, too — of course a bag of frozen strawberries is going to be less expensive than a carton of out-of-season (and probably terrible-tasting) fruit! Plus, frozen fruit makes the smoothie extra frosty.
And as nutritionist Marion Nestle points out in her 2006 book What to Eat, freezing food has "no effect on the nutritional value of produce."
But at this time of year, when luscious fruit is spilling into your local market, are those frozen bags still a good deal? I checked the prices at my local Trader Joe's. (Full confession: While I love their frozen fruit, often I find their fresh produce subpar anyway.)
Here are six fruits that were cheaper to buy frozen than fresh at my local Trader Joe's — yes, even during the summer.
If there is a Billy Boy in your life and you're baking a cherry pie for him, you'll save 50 cents and a whole lot of pitting if you buy the dark red cherries frozen at Trader Joe's. TJ's Very Cherry Berry Blend cost $3.49 for a pound versus the same amount of fresh red cherries for $4.
Does your blender beverage of choice contain pineapples? Trader Joe's Frozen Pineapple Tidbits cost $1.79 for 16 ounces, which is more than a dollar less than whole fresh or pre-cut options.
A fresh mango might be one of the most seductive fruits on earth, but at $1.49 each, you'll have to cut up quite a few of them to get the 16 ounces of slices available for $2.49.
Blueberries are delicious in yogurt and smoothies — and the frozen ones cost less than half the fresh. Trader's Fresh Frozen Blueberries are $1.99 for 12 ounces, yet the fresh at my store were $6.49 for an 18-ounce clamshell.
In case you buy the fresh ones: How To Freeze Blueberries
Fresh raspberries — at $3.49 for six ounces — were nearly twice as expensive as the frozen organic berries offered at $3.69 for 12 ounces.
6. Organic Strawberries
The frozen bag just barely nudged out the fresh: Fresh strawberries were going for $2.99 for 12 ounces, while frozen sold for $2.69 for the same amount.
As always, seasonality matters — so do the math.
Which frozen fruits make it into your shopping cart?