Fruits and Vegetables on a Budget
Preparing meals and eating at home saves money and gives you the opportunity to enjoy meals with your family. But if you’re busy, how do you do this? Plan ahead! By planning ahead, you’ll save time and be less likely to resort to pre-prepared or take-out food that costs more.
Start with this …
- Make a list, and stick to it to avoid spending money on unnecessary items.
- Include frozen, canned and dried forms of fruits and vegetables on your list. They are all nutritious and handy for quick-fix meals.
- Make sure you have staples that you use on a regular basis on hand. See the Well-Stocked Pantry for suggestions.
Then try this …
- Plan for fruits or vegetables to be the CENTER of the plate … and then add protein and grains. Some vegetable-grain combinations don’t require additional protein but when you do add meat or cheese, think of it as flavoring.
- Plan meals around fruits and vegetables that go a LONG WAY. Plan to include fruits and vegetables you can grab as quick snacks or turn into soups and casseroles that you can eat a couple of times during the week.
See Our Healthy Meal Planning Guide
See Our 30 Ways in 30 Days Menu A Day: $10 or Less Feeds 4!
Buy in season. Although most fresh fruits and vegetables are available year-round, some are less expensive when they are in season. Also keep in mind that all forms of fruits and vegetables are nutritious, so canned and frozen forms are OK too!
Buy more. When there are specials on fruits and vegetables, buy extra. They can be frozen, or you can prepare a dish to be frozen for a busy night’s dinner. But don’t buy it if you won’t use it or you’ll just be tossing the money in the garbage.
Don’t shop when you’re hungry. You may be tempted to buy things that are not on your list. An impulse purchase of a bag of cookies … on sale … can cost you $2.50 or more.
Comparison shop. The larger size is not always the best price.
Limit or avoid expensive snack foods, desserts and soft drinks that provide little or no nutrition value for your money. Compare the value …
What You Get for $1* Nutrition Value for Your $$ 4 oz. bag chips Calories from fat, salt 1 ¼ pound carrots Vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants 2 small cookies Calories from fat and sugar 3 small (2 ¾ in) apples Vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants 2 liters soda Calories from sugar 64 oz. 100% orange juice Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants *Prices are approximate and will vary depending on location, sales, coupons, etc.
Spoiled foods cost you money and deprive you of nutrients. Our Fruit and Vegetable Nutrition Database has storage tips for each fruit and vegetable. Also see our Video Center for fruit and vegetable storage information.
Prepare more so you have leftovers. Use them for lunch, or create a new dish. See our Print ‘n Go Menus for some examples.
Replace half the meat. Substituting half the meat in a recipe with beans and/or vegetables will reduce fat and increase fiber, as well as save you money.
Use fruits and vegetables as snacks. It’s easy to have fruits and vegetables available as ‘grab and go’ snacks or check our Fruit and Vegetable Recipe Database for some great dessert ideas.