As a follow-up to this previous post, today we’ll show some easily accessible ways to introduce fruits and vegetables into your budget-friendly diet:
Fresh Vs. Frozen
Though notoriously deemed as being less nutritious and overall “fresh” than the alternative, frozen fruits and vegetables are often actually more nutritious than their “fresher” counterparts. The reason? Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak, then flash-frozen to preserve nutrients. When you buy “fresh” produce at your grocery store, you must remember the time it takes for the product to actually get to your kitchen. If you’re looking at produce which is certifiably local, then we’d absolutely recommend buying the fresh option. Otherwise, frozen might actually be best.
Another nice thing about buying frozen is you don’t have to worry about using the fruit or vegetable immediately. We’re all busy and have lives outside of saving and living healthily; risking even more nutrients lost while not consuming your fresh produce is the equivalent of throwing away money. Additional bonus: most produce is already cut to bite-sized pieces. Less prep time, more nutrition, and cheaper cost. Damn.
Cost Analysis (according to Seattle area Safeway grocery store):
Pantry Essentials Frozen Broccoli Cuts: $1.32/pound
Fresh Broccoli: $1.69/pound
Safeway Whole Frozen Strawberries: $2.64/pound
Fresh Packaged Strawberries:$4.39/pound
Seasonal grocery shopping may seem obvious to some, but the benefits of shopping by season may be more imperative than it may seem. Since not every dish can be made with frozen vegetables (e.g. fresh salads), it’s a good idea to routinely check your local grocery store for any weekly produce sales. Often, there will be a surplus of a specific product, depending on the time of year. If the prices overwhelm you, here is a really helpful chart of peak-season produce according to where you live in the U.S. While frozen often is a better alternative to fresh, when a product is in season, the fresh, seasonal prices often surpass those of the frozen varieties.
For instance, cauliflower is currently in season in the state of Washington:
Fresh Cauliflower: $1.49/pound
Frozen Safeway Cauliflower: $1.84/pound
Accessible Produce Consumption
As we all know, it’s not always easy to fit in our daily requirements of produce. Harvard School of Public Health suggests 4½ cups of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, which can be a rather tricky feat for the busy individual. What kinds of vegetables? Well, Harvard recommends a diet rich in, “Dark leafy greens, cooked tomatoes, and anything that’s a rich yellow, orange, or red color.” Sounds expensive, right? Oh, don’t be such a Debby Downer.
Before we continue, we’d like to introduce you to V-8 Low Sodium Vegetable Juice:
In this 11.5 ounce can alone, there are two servings of vegetables. With a rich red color and pasteurized (cooked) benefit of tomato juice, you get an incredibly fast and accessible health boost for - wait for it - only 50 cents per can. That’s about 25 cents per serving, which is pretty good by us. Just the ease of use alone is worth any (very small) higher price.
To conclude, we’ll end on a seemingly extreme notion: the idea that you can consume all of your daily recommended vegetables spending a dollar or less. Yes, it is possible.
Here’s a sample day:
($0.50) One 11.5 ounce can of V-8 Low Sodium Vegetable Juice: Two servings.
($0.20) Two Cups Raw Spinach: Two servings.
($0.25) One Cup Raw Carrots: One serving.
Total Cost: $0.95
Total Servings of Vegetables: Five