Do you feel that buying and/or consuming fruits and vegetables on a regular basis is a challenge for you? If so, why? As a dietitian, I often hear from clients that they know they should be eating more produce, but it becomes problematic for a number of reasons.
Here are some of those reasons:
- the cost of fresh produce is too high when living on a budget
- fruits and vegetables often go bad before they are consumed
- consumers are unsure of where and how to shop wisely
- some people just aren’t sure how to prepare vegetables in a tasty and healthy manner
Produce doesn’t have to be expensive!
- Buy in season – Fruits and vegetables that are in season are not only the most fresh and flavorful, but also the most affordable. Purchasing from local farmers (at places like farmers markets, co-ops, and CSA’s) is a great way to support your community and buy produce for less.
- Buy in bulk – If you or your family consume large amounts of produce, try shopping at larger grocery stores or wholesale retailers like Costco or Sam’s Club.
- Look for deals – You can often find coupons and specials to cut costs. Look in the local
paper as well as in the store and online for these deals.
- Choose generic – Buy the store brand when possible to save money. In addition,
using a membership card at your grocery store can mean even more savings!
- Buy produce in its whole form – Although pre-washed, pre-cut, or pre-packaged foods are more convenient, they are more expensive. Choose fruits and vegetables
in their natural state and wash/cut them yourself.
Shop smart to avoid spoilage
- Don’t shop hungry – Go shopping after you have eaten to avoid making frivolous purchases. Make a grocery list and stick to it – this will ensure that you have the allotted funds for your fruits and veggies.
- Buy fresh produce often – to avoid letting your produce go bad, buy small amounts on a frequent basis. Plan out your meals for a few days ahead and shop accordingly.
- Try frozen or canned – frozen fruits and veggies are a great option if you want to have these on hand at all times without worrying they will spoil. Canned alternatives are ok as well – just make sure to look for fruits canned in their own juice (vs. syrup) and low sodium options.
- Use leftovers – use extra veggies in soups, casseroles, or to pasta and rice dishes.
How do I prepare my veggies?
- Eat them raw – make a delicious salad with a variety of ingredients and snack on raw veggies like carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and bell peppers.
- Learn how to cook them – you will be surprised how quick and easy cooking scrumptious veggies can be! Read all about sautéing, stir-frying, grilling, roasting, steaming, and other healthy cooking methods here. Many brands even offer frozen vegetables in “steamer bags” that allow you to toss the bag right from your freezer into the microwave. You can also try Ziploc® Zip’n Steam® Microwave Cooking Bags, which are awesome for microwave steaming of not only vegetables, but also potatoes, fish, and poultry!!
Hopefully after reading these helpful tips, you will feel more confident about buying, preparing, AND consuming your fruits and vegetables!!