What To Consider Before Buying Pre-Cut Produce At The Grocery Store

Many reasons exist for buying pre-cut produce from your grocer, convenience being probably the biggest one. Need to skip the cutting process yourself, or simply want to save time? Meal prep can be labor intensive, and, for many, pre-cut is often the answer. This can be especially true for those who find slicing up fruits and veggies difficult. Besides, per the Food and Drug Administration, produce is usually safe to eat even when pre-cut, as long as it's undamaged, clean, and kept cool (particularly in a fridge). It doesn't hurt to also wash the produce before eating it, though.

Cutting up and then packaging fresh produce can also increase its longevity, according to Men's Health. That's because a lot of fruits and vegetables produce carbon dioxide once sliced, so producers can seal them up with that, instead of lots of oxygen. This leads to less oxidation and results in longer-lasting produce. Considering all of this, why are some savvy shoppers still cutting pre-cut produce from their grocery lists?

Price, freshness, portions

The extra work it takes to pre-cut produce means more labor for the company that provides it. Those businesses pass the cost along to you to stay afloat. In 2018, VICE found that buying pre-cut food instead of chopping it up yourself could cost you as much as a hundred bucks per month. If you're concerned about your wallet, consider skipping the grocery store produce aisle and save money by buying cheaper, intact produce at farmers markets.

Pre-cut produce is also usually less nutritious than whole fruit (via Men's Health). Caroline West Passerrello of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says, "Cutting fruits or vegetables exposes them to oxygen and light, and sometimes heat, all of which affect vitamin retention in food." Better to be safe than sorry for food safety, too. For example, if leafy greens get ripped and packaged, that provides contamination an environment to fester in.

One other thing to consider is portioning. If you're buying pre-cut, packaged stuff, it's probably going to come in one or two standard sizes, which may not always fit your eating habits. Pre-cut produce restricts how much you can buy of the things you love. Nobody wants to choose between too much or too little, and produce's high perishability means leftovers can easily spoil.

None of this is to say that you must stop buying the pre-cut stuff. Next time you find yourself in need, though, ask yourself: Is it worth it? Is it fresh enough? Is it the right amount?