One big barrier to eating healthy is the perception that fruits and vegetables are expensive. That’s not necessarily so. Fruits and veggies can often be more expensive than convenient and less healthy foods. But, there are some things you can do to make healthy choices easier on your pocket book.
The easiest way to save on produce is to buy produce when it is in season because they are often on sale at these times. Doing this also gives you a variety of fruits and vegetables to try. Here are more ways to get more bang from your produce buck.
- Buy produce that is inexpensive but contains a lot of nutrients. Bananas are cheap, and each one provides 450 mg to 500 mg of potassium. You get potassium from bananas more cheaply than from more pricey nectarines.
- Buy dual purpose produce. Bananas contain potassium, but they’re also rich in dietary fiber — another nutrient most Americans don’t get enough of. Likewise, beans are a cheap source of dietary fiber, and many varieties, such as white beans, are also good sources of calcium.
- Try dried or preserved fruits. These fruits can be cheaper, have a longer shelf life and even be denser in nutrients than the fresh versions. For example, dried prunes are a great, cheap source of dietary potassium
Other reasons people shy away from produce is preparation time, unfamiliarity, and old habits. Here are some suggestions for tipping aside these barriers.
- The latest guidelines recommend a minimum of 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables a day. More is better.
- Set a goal. Start by eating one extra fruit or vegetable a day. When you’re used to that, add another and keep going.
- Be sneaky. Adding finely grated carrots or zucchini to pasta sauce, meat loaf, chili, or a stew is one way to get an extra serving of vegetables.
- If the natural flavor of carrots, celery, broccoli, or other veggies isn’t enough, try dipping them into hummus or another bean spread, some spiced yogurt, or even a bit of ranch dressing. Or slather peanut butter on a banana or slices of apple.
- Having a 6-ounce glass of low-sodium vegetable juice instead of a soda gives you a full serving of vegetables.
- Roasting vegetables is easy and brings out new flavors. Cut up onions, carrots, zucchini, asparagus, turnips and coat with olive oil, add a dash of balsamic vinegar, and roast at 350° until done.
Let someone else do the work. If peeling, cutting, and chopping aren’t your thing, food companies and grocers offer an ever-expanding selection of prepared