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Often I hear “my food bill would go sky high if I bought all the vegetables and fruits that are recommended to be eaten in a day” but it can be done on a budget.
According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a person on a 2,000-calorie diet needs 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables per day or 17½ cups of vegetables and 14 cups of fruit every week. USDA further breaks down vegetables into specific groups which include dark green vegetables (1½ cups), red and orange vegetables (5½ cups), beans and peas (1½ cups), starchy vegetables (5 cups), and other vegetables (4 cups). Fresh, canned, frozen, dried, and 100% juice counts equally toward recommended intakes, although the majority of the recommended fruit should come from whole fruits.
To help, here are some hints to add more vegetables and fruits to your grocery cart without breaking your budget:
- Buy in season. Although most fresh fruit 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. But only buy more if you will use it, or you’ll just be tossing the money in the garbage. Canned foods will last much longer than fresh and can be just as healthy. Rinse the vegetables to reduce the sodium. Rinse the fruit to reduce the sugar.
- 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, the same or more than a pound of bananas or broccoli.
- Make a list, and stick to it to avoid spending money on unnecessary items. Plan to prepare vegetables once and then use leftovers later in the week. For instance, serve broccoli, then use leftovers in an egg wrap later in the week. Or purchase cabbage, steam quarters for dinner and then use leftovers in soup later in the week.
- Include frozen, canned and dried forms of fruits and vegetables on your list. They are all nutritious and handy for quick-fix meals.
- Keep it simple, meaning buy vegetables and fruits in their simplest form. Pre-cut, pre-washed and processed are convenient, but often cost much more.
Source: Fruits and Veggies--More Matters website