Fruits and vegetables are too expensive?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The cost of food is so high, it’s hard afford fruits and vegetables.
WHAT WE KNOW
With prices for everything on the rise, food dollars are stretched. A walk through the produce section of the grocery store shows that the cost of fruits and vegetables has been equally affected. In 2008, food prices, including fruits and vegetables, increased over 6%, a much higher increase than previous years. It’s no wonder everyone is feeling the pinch. To economize, people are eating at home more often and some report that they are even learning to be better cooks! The fact is, there are still bargains to be had in the produce section, as well as in the canned, frozen, dried and juice aisles. Now might be a great time to be adventurous and try a new recipe or a new fruit or veggie. It also might be an opportunity to evaluate your shopping cart to see if you’re getting the most nutrition ‘bang’ for your buck.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?*
Just as the cost of fruits and vegetables as well as other meal staples has increased, the cost of snack foods, desserts and beverages has also risen comparably. Generally, the cost of a serving of fruits and vegetables will be similar to, and often even less than the cost of a serving of a snack food. For instance, the cost of 1 ounce of chips (15 chips – who stops there?) is 28 cents; for the 30 chips that would more likely be consumed, the cost would be 56 cents. In comparison, you could snack on ½ cup carrot sticks for about 16 cents, or a medium naval orange for around 35-40 cents. An analysis of a re-vamped shopping cart is very revealing. The estimated cost of 1 pound of cookies, a one pound bag of chips, 2 liters of soda and ½ gallon of ice cream is $13.00. For $13.38, the following fruits and vegetables could be purchased: 2 pounds apples, 2 pounds oranges, 1 pound bananas, 2 pounds potatoes, 1 pound broccoli, 1 pound cabbage, 1 pound carrots, 1 pound romaine lettuce. Furthermore, by substituting plant sources of protein such as dried beans and peas for meat and chicken, considerable savings can add up. A one pound bag of beans will yield about 6 cups cooked. At around $1.40 a bag, you could save up to $1.50 or more compared to buying a pound of ground chuck. So try a meatless version of chili for an inexpensive, healthy meal. Here is a Veggie Chili recipe that’s quick to make because it uses canned beans.
Fruits and vegetables can be included on a budget. Careful planning and shopping, and an open mind will help juggling the food dollar. Consider new ways to prepare foods and take advantage of inexpensive healthful options such as cabbage or carrots, to name two. Check out our Recipe section for some delicious ideas. Be open to trying new fruits and vegetables that are economical and go a long way such as turnips, or greens such as kale. Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables will be less expensive when they are in season. Don’t forget that canned, frozen and dried forms as well as 100% juice are great choices – they add variety and can also be economical. Be sure to comparison-shop so you get the best value for your dollar.
*Cost estimates are based on data from the Department of Labor Consumer Price Index-Average Price Data for the average of U.S. cities. The highest price recorded in 2008 was used, so estimates do not consider seasonal and regional variations, or sales and specials that might be available.