How to Cut the Cost of Frozen Food
Frozen foods have gained in popularity over the years because of convenience, improvements in selection, and because frozen food stores longer than fresh food. Along with the growth in popularity, shoppers are also seeing the prices on frozen food rise. However, there are ways to cut the cost of not only what you spend on frozen food, but also on your total food budget by the types of frozen food that you buy.
How to Cut the Cost of Frozen Foods
Frozen Produce vs. Fresh Produce
Shopping for fresh produce can be enjoyable because it touches on so many of our senses. Seeing, touching and smelling fresh fruits and vegetables is more satisfying than grabbing a frozen bag of like products from the freezer case. However, there are times when buying frozen fruits and vegetables will not only cost you less, but will provide more nutrients than fresh produce.
USDA Research Plant Physiologist Gene Lester, PhD says, "Commercially sold fresh vegetables are generally picked while they are still ripening so that they are able to withstand the rigors of handling, transportation, storage and the retail display case. Whereas frozen vegetables are picked at the height of ripeness, which provides for the highest nutrient density, then immediately frozen which slows/ stops the loss of vital nutrients."
A good rule of thumb is to purchase out-of-season produce from the freezer aisle and stock up on the fresh produce that is in-season to eat immediately or to freeze for the coming months.
Careful Selection of Frozen Produce Improves Quality
Frozen produce can quickly defrost when being delivered and stocked in the grocery stores. As soon as frozen produce begins to thaw out it can begin to lose nutrients and compromise the taste. You also risk getting freezer burn when you refreeze it once you get home.
ConAgra spokesperson Phil Lempert says when selecting frozen produce, "If you feel or hear ice crystals, it probably means the contents inside were thawed and refrozen. Avoid them and reach way in the back of the freezer to get a package that is solid as ice."
With this in mind, it is also a good idea to shop the frozen foods aisle last.
Find Coupons for Frozen Foods
The frozen food companies are in constant competition and they know that one way to get noticed by shoppers is to offer coupons or special sales on select products. This is also a common way to market new products.
You can find frozen food coupons using the same resources that you use for other food products including checking your Sunday newspaper. Also, many of the boxed frozen food products will have coupons on the inside of the packaging.
Looking for online frozen food coupons? Coupons.com, RedPlum and SmartSource are three popular resources for free printable online coupons.
You can also sign up at the company websites that manufacturer your favorite frozen foods. There are literally thousands of frozen food companies, but doing a quick search on Google for your favorites will help you locate the websites that you want. Many times the companies will send out coupons in their newsletters.
Facebook is also a good place to get coupons and other promotional information including contests. The best way to find food companies on Facebook is to find the main website for the company, then click on the Facebook link from there. You can also check the list of Facebook coupons to see if your favorite frozen foods are listed.
Stock Up on Frozen Food Sales
Stock Up on Frozen Food Sales
Shoppers can expect to find some of the best deals on frozen foods during the month of March because it is "Frozen Food Month" and grocery stores really drop the prices. This is also the time when companies coming out with new packaging will drop the prices on the same products that are in the old packaging.
There are some frozen products that can save you up to 30 and 40 percent when compared to non-frozen products, but some of the products are for convenience only and will really run up your food bill. Checking the prices and avoiding certain frozen foods will help you stretch your food budget.
You can save as much as 40 percent by buying seafood in the freezer aisle. Most "fresh" seafood sold at grocery store seafood counters has been frozen and defrosted. The longer the defrosted fish sits on display, the less fresh it becomes. Seafood sold in the freezer aisle maintains its freshness until you defrost it.
Turkeys, Cornish Hens, Chicken
The prices on frozen turkeys, Cornish hens, and other poultry products are usually priced less per pound than what you will find in the non-frozen meat departments. By planning your meals ahead of time you can save a decent amount off your food bill when you buy some of the frozen poultry and defrost it yourself.
The exception to this would be the manager's specials on poultry that is close to expiring.
Frozen concentrated juice costs considerably less than non-frozen "made from concentrate" juice. As Phil Lempert points out, why pay for water? It is also handy to have around for other recipes.
Biscuits, Pancakes and Waffles
Frozen pancakes, waffles and biscuits are much more costly than the cost of making then yourself. Unless you are really short on time you can save money by making a batch and freezing them yourself. You can then pull from them the same way you would if you bought the frozen products. However, if you have a great coupon for the frozen items, compare prices and you might luck out and get convenience and save a bit by.
Tip: When freezing homemade biscuits, pancakes and waffles place them on a cookie sheet and freeze them flat before you bag them. This keeps them from sticking together.
Do you order a lot pizza delivery? If so, then we will assume you are into convenience when it comes to pizza. Frozen pizzas are equally convenient and having some on hand will save you money.
Don't be afraid to get the super cheap ones either. You can always add more of the ingredients that you want to it. For example, you can often find Tony's Pizza coupons for two pizzas for $5 which is pretty cheap, even if you just want it for a quick snack.
Frozen Vegetables With Sauces
Tempted to buy the frozen broccoli smothered in cheese sauce? The mixed vegetables in Alfredo sauce? The prices are high for what you get. You will save money if you buy just the vegetables and make your own sauce. Plus, if you buy the larger family size packages of frozen vegetables you can use them for more than just one meal.
Frozen Meals for Diversity
There are times when we want to eat food that we don't really know how to make ourselves. For example, if you can't cook Chinese food, but you enjoy eating it sometimes, then buying the frozen Chinese meals that are available would be worth it. It may cost you more than what you really like to pay, but it is still a lot less expensive than going out to a restaurant or buying ingredients that you rarely use just for one recipe.
How to Save on Ice Cream
Unless you are completely hooked on a specific kind of ice cream, always shop for ice cream that is on sale. Buying the larger family-size containers of ice cream is usually the least expensive way to go and you can always add different fixings to it to enhance the flavor.
Avoid letting ice cream defrost before you get it home and back into the freezer. Also, once the lid is removed, placing a sheet of plastic wrap over the top and pressing it into the ice cream, before you put the lid back on help to retain the flavor and to avoid ice crystals.
Tip: For inexpensive ice cream toppings, stock up on candy bars when you find them on sale. Chopping up a Payday that you bought on sale for four for a dollar is going to cost a lot less than a jar of expensive ice cream topping.
By comparing prices, using coupons, stocking up during peak sale times, and properly storing your frozen foods, you will be able to save money and waste less food.