Is fresh always best?

Mexibean Tortilla wrap

When it comes to packing Crunch&Sip, ‘fresh’ may not always be available or may be too expensive depending on where you live. So what are the alternatives?

How does frozen compare?

While freshly picked, seasonal produce is hard to beat; frozen vegetables and fruits may be a more accessible and affordable option for some. Throwing frozen fruit straight from the freezer into a fruit smoothie or using a frozen mix through a stir-fry means you can enjoy a variety of vegetables and fruits all year round.  

Frozen vegetables and fruits can sometimes be more nutritious than fresh produce sold in supermarkets.  This is because vegetables and fruits chosen for freezing tend to be at peak ripeness, which means they are most nutrient-packed. Packaging these products involves a quick heat treatment to kill bacteria and neutralise the action of food-degrading enzymes, followed by a flash freeze to lock in all of the nutrients. It’s that simple!

When cooking frozen vegetables, its best to steam or microwave them from frozen so you retain their nutrients.  Boiling them unfortunately means tipping their water-soluble vitamins down the drain.  So fill your freezer with frozen fruit and vegetables for affordable and nutritious variety.            

Consider canned, try tinned

Canned or tinned fruit and vegetables are another great option. They’re portable, conveniently packed, don’t need refrigeration until opened and are available all year round. Canned varieties are often cheaper than fresh and ready to eat without additional cooking. As with frozen varieties, canned vegetables and fruits are still packed full of the good stuff and may sometimes offer more nutrients than fresh produce.  To minimise additional salt and sugar that can come with canned foods, choose “no-added-salt” or “salt-reduced” vegetables and legumes, and choose fruits canned in juice over those canned in syrup.  Rinsing and draining also rids excess salt leaving you ready-to-use and delicious, nutritious vegies. 

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So what is the verdict? Do frozen or canned vegetables stack up nutritionally against their fresh counterparts?

The good news is - they do! Whether it’s frozen peas or corn spears from the can, just because you don’t have access to a variety of fresh produce doesn’t mean you have to go without.

 Nutritious   Delicious 
 Conveniently packed  Available all year round
 Long-lasting if stored correctly  Affordable

Where fresh is not affordable or available, frozen and canned can provide a nutritious alternative to pack for Crunch&Sip or to throw in a main meal, which will help boost our serves of vegetables and fruit across the day. The price and convenience offered by frozen and canned produce means we can’t go past stacking the pantry or filling the freezer as a great supplement to the fridge crisper. 

Promote frozen and canned fruits and vegetables in your classroom as suitable Crunch&Sip options by encouraging your students to include drained canned vegies such as corn spears, champignons, chickpeas or butterbeans. These offer great alternatives when raw vegetables are unavailable.

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Why not showcase frozen and canned produce by holding a cooking demonstration in the classroom using simple vegetable-based recipes such as Mexibean Tortilla Melt, Mexican Salad, Rainbow Pasta Salad or Quick Tuna Couscous.  For more great recipe ideas visit crunchandsip.com.au/healthy-lunchboxes