The Best and Worst Fruits and Vegetables to Buy Pre-Cut

Not all pre-cut produce will save you time — and certainly not money. You're better off buying some fruits and vegetables whole and prepping them yourself.

Pre-cut fruits in the supermarket
Photo: Getty Images/Juanmonino

You might think that buying pre-cut foods — like diced, spiralized, or perfectly shredded fruits and vegetables — is all upside. But there are a few downsides to purchasing pre-cut items: additional grocery cost, a more limited shelf-life, the loss of nutritional value, and even the potential for cross-contamination.

What Are the Benefits to Buying Pre-Cut Foods

But let's be honest, sometimes saving time in the kitchen is worth a little extra expense. Besides, if purchasing pre-cuts helps you eat more fruits and vegetables, it'll probably be a good habit, on balance, for the time being at least. Also, there are just some fruits and veggies that are worth getting pre-cut because they're so tedious to prep — looking at you fresh coconut and butternut squash.

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, and author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook and The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club puts things into perspective for us. "We all wish there were more hours in the day. So buying pre-prepped veggies can be a huge advantage, especially when you are in a hurry or making a recipe with a lot of ingredients," she says. "For example, pre-packed stir-fry veggies can save SO much time over buying each item individually and washing and trimming them and this can even save you money since you are only buying the amount you need."

So if you are buying pre-cut foods, these are the best and worst ones to choose.

The Best Foods to Buy Pre-Cut

Coconut
There's a reason to get coconut prepared beforehand. "A whole coconut is pretty difficult to deal with so if you want fresh coconut meat, this is a great item to find precut," says Harris-Pincus.

Pineapple
A whole pineapple is large and intimidating for many people who are not familiar with preparing it. "Peeled and cored pineapple rings are terrific for grilling or baking into desserts with ease," she says. And pre-prepped pineapple tastes great for a marinade or dressing for dinner salads or chicken.

Pomegranate Seeds
"Pomegranate seeds are delicious but intimidating if you don't know how to get them out efficiently ," says Harris-Pincus. "So save some time and pomegranate juice spatter by buying the seeds." They are amazing sprinkled on salads, yogurt, cereal, grain bowls, oatmeal, fish, and more.

Zoodles
Zoodles can be easy to spiralize once you get the hang of it and have time to do it. But if you don't own the right tool, grabbing a pre-cut package of zucchini noodles is a great option. And if you end up using them frequently, you may want to invest in your own spiralizer. Check out our collection of Low-Carb Zucchini Noodle (Zoodle) Recipes.

Butternut Squash
Another good veggie that is high in antioxidants but cumbersome to cut. "Butternut squash is one item that requires some significant elbow grease and time to peel and cut," says Harris-Pincus. "Plus, they are often large, and you end up with more than you need," she says. Buying precut cubes ready for roasting are fabulous for soups, side dishes, grain bowls, and so many other options.

The Worst Foods to Buy Pre-Cut

Mixed Berries
These are very delicate and degrade quickly once washed and sliced, so you won't have much time to eat them if pre-cut and packaged. Plus they are super expensive too! "The quality is not nearly the same as when they are freshly washed and served so avoid buying these pre-made if possible," says Harris-Pincus.

Citrus Slices
You're better off buying whole citrus and peeling yourself, since it's not hard to do and you'll get more nutrition per fruit. "Citrus slices can loss some of their Vitamin C, once exposed to oxygen, so if you are buying them in hopes of supporting your immune system, buy whole oranges, mandarins, or clementines," says Harris-Pincus.

Broccoli
No need to buy these already packaged for double or triple the price-tag. "Precut broccoli and cauliflower heads are usually a waste of money because they are so easy to prepare, just a quick rinse and no peeling required ," says Harris-Pincus.

Cucumbers
Pre-sliced cucumbers get slimy pretty quickly, so it's not the best option to buy pre-cut. Plus, they are super easy to slice yourself at home. The same goes for bell peppers, celery, carrots, and other veggies that are often featured on vegetable platters.

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