A common question among consumers is whether bottled and jarred packaged goods are better than their canned equivalents, and the answer isn’t as clear-cut as you might think. On one hand, canned goods have their advantages over bottled and jarred packaged goods because they are less expensive, easier to open, don’t require refrigeration after opening, and can be easily recycled. Yet there are also benefits to consuming bottled or jarred foods that you might not have thought of before, including flavor preservation and convenience features that you won’t find in cans.
From easy-open tops to no-mess pouring, bottled and jarred packaged goods are perfect for on the go. And when you find a great deal on your favorite packaged good at a warehouse store, filling up your pantry is a snap. But if you’re looking for convenience in packaging, glass wins out over plastic any day—it’s infinitely recyclable, nonporous (which makes it safe for storing any kind of food), and shatterproof. For example, many states accept #1 PET plastic containers in curbside recycling bins; however, some communities have started banning them because they end up in landfills due to their brittle nature.
The taste of bottled and jarred packaged foods depends entirely on what it’s packaged in. If you buy tomato sauce in a plastic bottle, it won’t have much flavor; if you buy it in a glass jar, however, it will be much more flavorful. A lot depends on your palate, but flavor is why most people choose bottled and jarred packaged goods over fresh produce—which can seem boring without seasonings like garlic or other spices—and frozen foods. Similarly, some people prefer frozen fruits to fresh because they maintain their shape better and stay fresher longer.
While it might be tempting to buy in bulk from Amazon when you’re stocking up on packaged goods, buying smaller, frequent shipments gives you an edge in freshness. Large warehouse grocery stores typically receive shipments every week or two (or more often depending on their distribution schedules). If you’re trying to keep your family’s diet healthy by serving fresh foods—fruits, vegetables, meat, fish—you don’t want those items sitting in a warehouse for weeks before they get to your front door. When you buy bottled or jarred goods that are not shelf-stable (think pickles and relishes), they will go bad even faster than frozen ones because they were never frozen at all.
Although bottled and jarred goods are very similar in many ways, there are some very real benefits to using one or another. If you’re in a hurry and need your groceries right away, bottled goods will be more readily available at supermarkets than jars. In some cases, such as with spinach or lettuce, you can buy bottled versions that have been washed for you so there’s no prep involved. Similarly, if shelf-life is important to you but keeping your food on hand isn’t—say you live alone—bottles might be preferable since jars take up more space in your pantry or fridge.
The benefit of buying bottled or jarred products is that they are more likely to be healthier than their less-processed counterparts. Not only do these packaged goods preserve vitamins, minerals, etc., but they can also have beneficial ingredients added—such as spices or herbs—during processing. But buying packaged goods is not without its cons: additional sugar, sodium, and preservatives may be added to improve taste; waste from packaging could end up in landfills; some materials may not fully biodegrade when thrown away, and many people prefer fresh produce to canned or frozen foods. As with most things, moderation is key! If you want to live a healthier lifestyle you can still enjoy other healthy foods while purchasing those that contain added ingredients if they meet your health needs.
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