This week I wanted to comment on a subject that frequent comes up–the cost of fruits and vegetables or just eating healthy in general. I’ve seen a variety of comments that it’s more expensive to eat healthy and that the Fruits & Veggies–More Matters message to consume low-fat, nutrient dense foods like fruits and vegetables is geared toward the middle or upper class. I’m all about saving money–each week I do my grocery shopping after checking the weekly circular for deals, I use coupons and buy things on sale. I’ll give you my own strategy on healthy eating while maintaining a food budget.
The biggest mistake people make is thinking that only fresh produce counts toward their servings of fruits and vegetables. Canned, frozen, dried and 100% juice all matter when looking at your daily requirements. And this is important, especially during the winter months when fresh produce isn’t as plentiful and therefore more expensive. Add some canned veggies to soup, throw some frozen fruit in the blender for a smoothie or add dried fruit to yogurt for a tasty topping. Buying in season is another tip–not only will you save money, but you’ll be getting produce that’s at the peak of flavor.
I also try to make at least two meals a week that are meatless. I find that items in the meat section of the grocery store are more expensive than anywhere else so substituting two meatless entrees saves me money, while adding more nutrition to my family’s diet.
Then there are snacks. I will look for fruits that are on sale and buy a big bag that may have 10 or more pieces (apples, pears, etc.). Compare that with prepacked cupcakes. The cheapest I’ve seen them in my store are two boxes for $5 (usually they’re $3.99 a box) and six servings come in a box. Now look at what you’re getting for your money–fat and empty calories compared to vitamins and fiber.
Finally, what’s the cost long term? If a high calorie, high fat diet leads to an overweight, unhealthy body, how much will you ultimately end up paying in healthcare costs? It’s something to think about. Medications to manage Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and the complications that come along with them aren’t cheap. The bottom line is to examine all the variables when considering your food budget. I think if you use some of these handy tips you’ll find incorporating more fruits and veggies to your grocery list will end up saving you money!