Fruits and vegetables are essential parts of nutritious meals, and eating healthy doesn’t need to break the bank. In fact, it’s possible to fit fruits and veggies into any family budget. Check out these 10 money-saving tips from ChooseMyPlate.gov to help you meet your fruit and vegetable needs:
1. Celebrate the season. Use fresh vegetables and fruits that are in season. They are easy to get, have more flavor and are usually less expensive. Your local farmers market is a great source of seasonal produce.
2. Why pay full price? Check the local newspaper, online, and at the store for sales, coupons and specials that’ll cut food costs. Often, you can get more for less by visiting larger grocery stores (discount grocers if available).
3. Stick to your list. Plan out your meals ahead of time and make a grocery list. You’ll save money by buying only what you need. Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Shopping after eating will make it easier to pass on the tempting snack foods. You’ll have more of your food budget for fruits and vegetables.
4. Try canned or frozen. Compare the price and the number of servings from fresh, canned and frozen forms of the same veggie or fruit. Canned and frozen items may be less expensive than fresh. For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100 percent fruit juice and vegetables with “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
5. Buy small amounts frequently. Some fresh vegetables and fruits don’t last long. Buy small amounts more often to ensure you can eat the foods without throwing any away.
6. Buy in bulk when items are on sale. For fresh vegetables or fruits you use often, a larger bag is the better buy. Canned or frozen fruits or vegetables can be bought in large quantities when they’re on sale, since they last much longer.
7. Store brands = savings. Opt for store brands when possible. You’ll get the same or similar product for a cheaper price. If your grocery store has a membership card, sign up for even more savings.
8. Keep it simple. Buy vegetables and fruits in their simplest form. Pre-cut, pre-washed, ready-to-eat and processed foods are convenient, but often cost much more than when purchased in their basic forms.
9. Plant your own. Start a garden—in the yard or a pot on the deck—for fresh, inexpensive, flavorful additions to meals. Herbs, cucumbers, peppers or tomatoes are good options for beginners. Browse through a local library or online for more information on starting a garden.
10. Plan and cook smart. Prepare and freeze vegetable soups, stews or other dishes in advance. This saves time and money. Add leftover vegetables to casseroles or blend them to make soup. Overripe fruit is great for smoothies or baking.