With rising prices squeezing household budgets, can you save money by switching from fresh to frozen at the supermarket?
Households are switching from buying fresh food to cheaper frozen food as rising food prices weigh on budgets, the boss of Britain’s biggest supermarket Tesco has said.
In a BBC interview (opens in a new tab)Ken Murphy, chief executive of Tesco, said shoppers were “managing their budget much more tightly” and had changed their behavior by “swapping” to cheaper food and own-brand products.
Can you really save big by buying frozen food? Let’s find out.
Fresh vs Frozen Foods
Fresh or frozen food – which is cheaper?
Food prices are rising at their fastest rate in 45 years. The latest official figures showed food price inflation hit 16.2% in the year to October, up from 14.5% in September.
Every penny you can save counts and if, as Tesco claims, households are turning to frozen food, can you really save? We looked at the prices of 10 popular types of food – frozen or fresh.
|Type of food*||Frozen||Cost per kg||Costs||Cost per kg||Price difference per kg|
|Peas||Tesco Garden peas 1kg 1,25 €||£1.25/kg||Tesco peas||£7.82/kg||£6.57|
|Fleas||Tesco Homestyle 950G Straight Cut Baked Potato Chips||£1.95/kg||You Say Fresh Cut Potato Chips 500G||£2.60/kg||£0.65|
|Fish fillets||Tesco Wild Salmon Fillets 500G||£11.10/kg||Tesco 2 boneless salmon fillets 260G||£15.97/kg||£4.87|
|Pizza||Tesco Stonebaked Fine Four Cheese Pizza 330G||£4.40/kg||Tesco Pizza margherita stone baked 252G||13.90/kg||£9.50|
|Sausages||Tesco 20 Pork Sausages 900G||£3.23/kg||Tesco 8 British Pork Sausages 454G||£4.41/kg||£1.18|
|plain chicken||Tesco Chicken Breast Fillet 1Kg||£6.00/kg||Tesco 950G British Chicken Breast Portions||£6.22/kg||£0.22|
|Paned chicken||Tesco Mini Breaded Chicken Fillets 300G||£9.17/kg||Tesco 305G Mini Breaded Chicken Fillets||£10.99/kg||£1.82|
|Broccoli||Tesco Broccoli Florets 900G||£1.23/kg||Bulk Broccoli||£1.92/kg||€0.69|
|Carrots||Tesco Chantenay Carrots 600G||£2.09/kg||Tesco Chantenay Carrots 500G||£2.00/kg||-£0.09|
|Roasted potatoes||Tesco Roast Potatoes 800G||£0.89/kg||Tesco Crispy Roast Potatoes 450g||£5.00/kg||£4.11|
* Most popular types of frozen food according to Birds Eye research (opens in a new tab) in 2018. Prices were researched on 12/05/22 on the Tesco website.
Total savings buying frozen food (per kg): £29.52 (71.5% savings), an average saving of £2.95 per item.
Are frozen foods more expensive to cook?
There is usually only a few cents difference between the cost of cooking fresh foods and frozen foods.
But cooking time is king. The longer the cooking time, the more expensive the cooking will be.
If you cook a frozen pizza, for example a cheese fondue pizza (opens in a new tab) from Tesco, it takes about 16 minutes in the oven at 200°C (180°C fan assisted).
Switch (opens in a new tab) told The Money Edit that 17 minutes of cooking a frozen pizza costs around 19.3 pence to use the oven.
Whereas a fresh pizza which requires around 15 minutes of cooking time costs 17 pence to run the oven.
With some foods, you may also want to consider defrosting time, which could reduce cooking time.
Are frozen foods less healthy than fresh foods?
But watching food prices can have a cost to your health, depending on the foods you freeze.
Frozen foods are known to be easy and quick, which is why many people opt for them, but also more unhealthy.
Nutritionist and head of Diets Debunked (opens in a new tab), Kate Hilton said: “I think the idea that frozen foods are more unhealthy is a misconception; it really depends on the food you buy, which will determine if it is more unhealthy or not.
“In fact, fruits and vegetables are often considered more nutritious when purchased frozen rather than fresh, as they are picked when fully ripe and this quality is preserved once frozen.
“But, I understand that the majority of foods in the frozen aisle are convenience foods, meaning foods that are quick, cheap and easy to cook. These foods tend to be higher in saturated fat, salt and sugar, and are often low in vitamins and minerals, which means they would be considered more unhealthy.
“Choosing minimally processed meats (such as plain frozen chicken breast or ground meat) will be a nutritionally better choice than breaded options.”
“Similarly, certain plant-based alternatives such as Quorn or seitan can also be a nutritious choice; just check the label to make sure there’s not a lot of added sugar, salt or saturated fat,” adds Kate.
It’s clear you can make big savings by switching to buying frozen food from the supermarket, with an average Sauvignon at £2.95 per kg with the 10 popular items we checked.
Although most frozen foods we found come in larger portions, they will also keep much longer in the freezer, which means you can use what you need and leave the rest in the freezer, which, hopefully will reduce food waste.
And with the majority of frozen foods, the few extra pennies it might cost to cook are more than offset by the savings you make buying them in the first place.
Plus, if you’re worried about the nutritional value of what you’re eating, the good news is that many frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen within hours of being picked, which means they can retain more of the nutritional goodness. such as essential vitamins and minerals. than some fresh foods that can take days to arrive on supermarket shelves.
Frozen foods are no less nutritious than fresh foods – but if the majority of your frozen store consists of high-fat items like pizza and fries, then that becomes an unhealthy option.
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