New reports have suggested that we should eat 7 fruits and veg a day instead of 5… 7? We could barely afford 5! It can be hard to reach the recommended daily total, especially when you’ve got a family to feed. Here are 10 ways to make it a little cheaper:
1. Avoid the mulitpacks
You’d think that the good supermarket people handily bag fruits and vegetables together to save you money – wrong! Mulitbags of fruits and vegetables are more often more expensive than if you buy the same amount of separately. Taking Asda as an example: 1 pack of 5 bananas is £1 and individual bananas are approx 11.6p each, so 5 would be around 58p – why is the multibag so much more?
Top tip: Take both the bag and the same amount of fruits/veg to the checkout and ask the checkout person (or do it at the self-service if you’re too embarrassed) to check which works out cheaper and buy that.
2. Don’t forget the frozen
Not all frozen food is as good as its fresh counterpart – but this isn’t true of fruit and veg. Frozen fruits and veg are frozen at source so retain all the nutrients that you’d find in fresh fruits and vegetables. As with most frozen foods, the price is much lower, they will last you much longer and you won’t have to worry about waste/the food going off quickly.
Top tip: Peas and sweetcorn are the most popular frozen vegetables and can be used to bulk out pasta dishes, casseroles and pies and add a colourful burst of flavour.
3. Replace meat in your meals with vegetables
Meat is much more expensive than vegetables and we seem to include it in every meal. Replacing meat with hearty, filling vegetables will up your veg intake while also bringing down the cost of your meals. Butternut squash, sweet potato, aubergines, courgettes and mushrooms are filling enough on their own when they’re the star of the meal.
4. Know what to do with them
It sounds obvious, but if you know lots of different ways to use your fruits and vegetables you’ll be much more inclined to use them more. If vegetables are just a side, it can be hard to eat more than 1 or 2 portions but if you cook them into a curry, pasta dish or a frittata you can up your intake to 3 or 4.
Top tip: Pick your favourite vegetable and use it in 10 different ways. Once you’re confident experimenting, try it with different vegetables.
5. Shop by season
When fruits and vegetables are in season, they’ll be at a significantly lower price than when they’re out of season. Sometimes in supermarkets, it’s pretty obvious what’s in season but it’s handy to know what to look for when to seek out some bargains. It may also inspire you to try something a little different.
Top tip: Seasons vary slightly every year due to the weather but take a look at our seasonal fruit and veg calendar for a rough guide – be sure to note down the prices of the items you normally buy so you can spot when they’re cheaper.
6. Check out your local markets/greengrocers
It’s not as easy as buying everything together but markets and greengrocers are a great place to get cheap fruit and vegetables. You can often get a much higher quantity of ingredients for much less than they’re charging in the supermarkets. It’s great if you know your family always eat one ingredient – haggle a price for a bulk order and chop it up and freeze it!
Top tip: Some grocers have websites where you can order cheap produce without having to track them down. Research any local distributors for bargain offers.
7. Plan your meals – and your fruit and veg per day
Planning your meals is a great way to budget. If you write out exactly what you’re making for the week and stick to a shopping list you will notice your bill reduce dramatically. When planning your meals you can also keep track of how many fruits and vegetables your are having per day.
Top tip: Have separate highlighters for fruit and veg and mark out any meals that have a portion of fruit and veg – you can then see clearly how much is in your weekly meal and add more if needed.
8. Find cheap sources of fruit and veg
Cheap tins of soups, baked beans, canned fruits all count towards your intake of fruit and vegetables and can be added to meals easily. Soups can be used instead of pasta sauces, in casseroles and pies and as a healthy lunch – you could even add chopped veg to your ready made soup to up the count.
Top tip: Prepared food, like tinned fruits, can often come with a higher level of sugar or fats so always check the label if healthy eating is your goal.
9. Don’t forget the pulses
They’re not obviously a fruit or a vegetable but pulses count towards your intake of fruit and vegetables. High in fibre, they include much of the same nutrients found in fruit and veg but on a lower scale. Chickpeas, beans and lentils are all very cheap to buy in bulk and can be added to salads, soups and curry to make them more nutritious – and more filling.
Top tip: Only one serving of pulses counts towards your intake of fruit and vegetables so don’t try and have multiple servings of pulses to up your count.
10. Know your portion sizes
If you find that you always run out of fruit and veg, you could be serving too much of it. You only really need 1 portion of each item a day to get the nutritional benefits, anything else is just extra. Knowing your exact portion sizes will stretch your food much further.
Read our guide for fruit and vegetable portion sizes and measure out your fruit and veg into portion sizes in Tupperware dishes, then you know exactly what to add to your meals to get your 7-a-day.
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