The Healthiest Frozen & Canned Foods To Eat If You’re On A Budget

Hello frozen avocado!

Frozen food
Image: iStock

Whether you’re a uni student, saving for a European summer or strapped for cash because #life, when it comes to eating healthy on a budget, it’s no easy feat.
There’s a constant battle at play between trying to balance your macros (good fats, carbs and protein), having enough superfoods to add to smoothies and let’s be really honest—generally staying satiated without resorting to pot noodles… it can be a struggle for the best of us.

Frozen foods
Image: iStock

Not to mention in Australia alone, with recent floods and droughts, our farms are unable to produce what they usually can which has lead to a price inflation in the cost of fruit and veg. And we won’t even talk about the cost of meat!
We know we need fresh produce in our diet, but what if it doesn’t have to be farm-to-table and can come from frozen, tinned or pre-packaged versions instead? We asked Melanie McGrice, accredited dietitian, to talk through the health content of canned and frozen fruit, veg and pulses to help Amodrn readers learn how they can get the most nutritional bang for their buck!

What’s the go with frozen produce—can we still get as much nutritional value?

“Yes, in fact most frozen fruit and veg contain higher levels of nutrition than fresh fruit and vegetables because as soon as they are picked they are frozen and the nutrients are frozen in.”

Frozen foods
Image: iStock

What frozen fruit and veg do you recommend buying?

1. Avocado – “freeze with lemon juice then mash for guacamole or avocado mousse.”
2. Berries – “great for throwing into a smoothie!”
3. Spinach – “spinach retains its nutrients but will wilt when frozen, so best used in stir fries and casseroles.”
4. Peas – “freezing peas will usually be sweeter and more nutrient-rich than peas that you buy from the grocer.”

When buying canned food, what are the key considerations to keep in mind?

“Although canned foods retain most nutrients, water-soluble vitamins such as folate and vitamin C can be lost in the liquid, so depending on the food, they may not be quite as healthy as fresh or frozen—but canned fruit and veg are better than no fruit and veg.”
“Additionally, bisphenol A (BPA) is present in many cans, so look for BPA free cans if possible.  Beans are an incredibly nutritious food, so canned can be a great, practical option—just look for canned foods without added salt or sugar.”

frozen foods
Image: iStock

What are the healthiest canned foods you would recommend?

Beans and pulses:

“Butter beans, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, 4 bean mix are all a great choice nutritionally. I’d recommend mixing it up for variety – chickpeas are richest in protein, while lentils are rich in iron. If you’re considering the lowest sugar or salt option, choose one of the above over baked beans as they tend to be higher in sugar and salt than the others.”


“Baby corn or corn kernels are healthier than say – creamed corn which is pulped to release the milky residue in corn. This is less nutritious as it breaks down the fibre and increases the glycemic index.”


“If possible, buy whole baby beetroot that has been peeled, cooked at shrink-wrapped instead of canned beetroot as it doesn’t have the added sugar and salt.”


“Look for brands with the least amount of sodium (salt) possible and purchase whole or diced tomatoes rather than peeled tomatoes as the additional fibre is beneficial for gut health.”


“Mushrooms shouldn’t naturally contain fat (but some contain additives such as butter and salt), so when choosing, select a canned variety with less than 0.1g fat per 100g.”

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