The freezer aisle is the best-kept secret for affordable, nutritious staples—that virtually never expire.
If you don’t have a spare freezer in your garage, this is your sign to look into getting one and filling it up. They say the most nutritious foods can be found along the perimeter of most grocery stores, but let’s not forget about the gems found in the freezer aisles. You’ve got your basics like frozen fruit for smoothies and frozen mixed veggies for stir fries, but the freezer section is also a great place to stock up on quick dinners, meal starters, and proteins galore.
You might have to remember to thaw some foods ahead of time, but the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages shoppers to fill their carts with frozen items because they’re a convenient and affordable source of nutrients. Frozen foods tend to be packed at peak ripeness, so in some cases, they’re even more nutritious than their fresh counterparts. While nothing lasts forever, many frozen foods never expire or last for significantly longer, buying you ample time to use up your personal stock.
All supermarkets have frozen aisles, but their contents differ depending on where you’re shopping. For the grocery chains with the best frozen foods section, these are the stores to visit.
There’s a reason why the freezer aisle at Trader Joe’s is always crowded—that’s where all the best stuff is. It’s a good place to grab essentials like frozen rice and vegetable medleys, but it’s also home to fan-favorite entrees like the Mandarin Orange Chicken and Cauliflower Gnocchi. The store is almost always adding new items to its freezer section (or re-stocking sold-out products), so check back frequently for new buys, like the highly anticipated seasonal ice cream flavors.
To keep your freezer full but your grocery bill low, take advantage of your local Aldi. The German chain is all about keeping prices as low as possible, which is certainly appreciated since grocery shopping can be expensive. Fresh and pantry food items make up the bulk of Aldi’s inventory, but you shouldn’t skip its small but mighty freezer section. It’s stocked with affordable frozen items shoppers love, from the viral “Red Bag” breaded chicken filets to the beloved line of premium ice cream. It even has a line of frozen vegetarian and vegan options, Earth Grown, which offers plant-based proteins like veggie burgers, chickenless tenders, and meatless meatballs.
For grocery shopping in bulk, Costco is the nation’s go-to warehouse club. It boasts multiple freezer aisles with a mix of reliable staples and fun merchandise available for a limited time only. If you like sandwiches, you’ll love Costco’s frozen selection. It’s got PB&J sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, and patties made from beef, chicken, and sausage so you can make your own. Other best sellers include a variety of frozen organic berries and fruit medleys, large bags of frozen vegetables, and dinners for the whole family, like pot pies and lasagna.
And let’s not forget that Costco’s freezer section is home to the Just Bare chicken tenders, which are rumored to be a budget-friendly dupe of Chick-fil-A’s tasty tendies.
Since Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017, shoppers have a few more incentives to stop at the grocery store once dubbed “Whole Paycheck.” Filled with its own private label, 365 by Whole Foods Market, the chain’s freezer aisle is the perfect place to pick up your organic staples. If you stick to the Dirty Dozen, that would be fruits and vegetables like strawberries, spinach, and cherries. Fortunately, all of them—and more—can be found in the Whole Foods freezer section along with hundreds of other sides, entrees, and desserts.
Walmart is technically a department store, but more than half of its revenue comes from grocery sales, so it might as well be a supermarket. The mega store has several frozen aisles, packed with prepared meals, breakfast items, and more from some of the leading brands. While Walmart does have a few of its own private labels to keep costs low, it’s one of the best places to get your name-brand goods at the best prices.
Like Walmart, Target only started selling groceries a couple of decades ago, but thank goodness it did. The popular chain makes it easy to get everything on your list from one place, including must-haves for your freezer like meat, seafood, fruit, and veggies. Shoppers love the wide variety of frozen pizzas and ice cream. Target also has a ton of kid-friendly options, such as dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, muffins with hidden veggies, and mini whole grain waffles.
The Kroger company is one of the nation’s biggest grocery store chains, making frozen essentials accessible to many. You might find some products other stores don’t carry, such as frozen juice concentrate, packaged ice, and plant-based offerings. And since Kroger stores tend to be larger than your typical Trader Joe’s or Aldi, for example, you’ll get a wider variety of goods to choose from in each category.
For maximum savings, look for products made under the private labels Kroger, Simple Truth, and Private Selection. You’ll find a very similar—if not identical—selection at Kroger-owned stores like Ralph’s and Dillons.
Sam’s Club, one of Costco’s biggest competitors, is more affordable to join, so the chain has seen a wave of new members. If you’re one of them, don’t sleep on the freezer aisle. Some of the best Sam’s Club frozen foods are from its own private label, Member’s Mark. Customer favorites include the miniature cheesecake pieces, french toast sticks, and salmon filets—all under the Member’s Mark line and found in the freezer section. It’s also a good place to pick up frozen berries, potatoes, and beef patties in bulk and at a hefty discount.
Publix is unrivaled in its policies that save shoppers money and keep them coming back for quality products at affordable prices. Its frozen food section is stocked with customer favorites like its popular premium ice cream, frozen pizzas, and family-size and individual meals. You know you’ll get the best deal on frozen name-brand products here, because Publix price matches and accepts coupons from other stores.
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