fresh vegetables
budget nutrition

How to Afford Eating Veggies (And Why You Can’t Afford Not To)

My friend stopped by our house a few months ago, clearly frustrated. Her health challenges are always causing problems physically, mentally, and financially. In exasperation, she told me the latest from her doctor:

“Apparently, we need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, but they’re just so expensive!

She then went on to tell me the little they had to spend on groceries, which she felt wasn’t enough for them even without that extra cost of fresh produce.

Her health challenges really do require a healthy diet, full of vegetables in particular. And yet she feels like she just can’t afford it.

Have you ever felt that way?

I know I have!

When we first started eating a mostly vegetarian diet, I really worried what all that fresh produce would do to our pocketbook. But to my surprise, I was able to stay within the same low grocery budget I’d set before.

How to Afford Veggies

If you’re worried about being able to afford fresh fruits and veggies, here are a few tips that have helped us:

1. Eat less meat.

While we moan and groan about how much vegetables cost, think about the meat you buy.

At it’s cheapest, we can get chicken for about $2 a pound. The leaner ground beef is sometimes on sale for $3 a pound. Once in a while, we can get pork loin for a similar price as chicken.

But all that meat added up! If we bought a pack of chicken or a pork loin roast, it added a pretty big chunk to our weekly grocery bill.

Whether or not you want to go vegetarian, think about reducing the amount of meat in your diet and replacing it with cheaper proteins. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average American eats way more meat than recommended and way less of those all-important fruits and vegetables.

Instead of buying an expensive hunk of beef, pork, or chicken, try replacing at least some of it with more fresh veggies. By using a cheaper protein such as black beans or chickpeas, you can probably afford to buy more fresh produce than you thought.

2. Compare price per ounce.

As a college student, going grocery shopping with my roommates made me extra grateful for the basic money-saving tips my mom taught me. One of my favorite grocery hacks to share was price comparison.

When you look at the price tag, in the left corner there’s usually a price per ounce, per pound, or per unit. Just looking at the price, you may not realize that the cheaper product is actually costing you more than what it’s worth.

Often (though not always) this will mean buying larger containers of food or buying the generic instead of name brand. (Though make sure when you buy in bulk that you’re actually going to use that giant container!) Be sure to double check that small part on the price tag to know that you’re getting the best deal.

3. Buy produce that’s in season or cheap.

This is good for both your pocketbook and the environment. We often think of vegetables as so expensive, but when you buy produce that’s in season, it usually comes at a fraction of the cost of meat. (For example, I just got asparagus for $0.99/lb the other day. What a steal!)

There are also some fruits and vegetables that are cheap all year long (bananas, carrots, celery, etc.). By loading up with these and filling in with some additional more expensive vegetables, you’ll be able to balance out both your diet and your checkbook.


Why You Can’t Afford Not To Eat Vegetables

Not only has eating more vegetables been affordable, but we’ve also seen some great health benefits, even just short term.

Eating more vegetables has helped us

  • Lose fat
  • Build muscle
  • Have more energy
  • Have a healthier digestive system
  • And more!

(For more on the benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, check out this website from the US Department of Agriculture.)

So if your doctor is telling you to get more fruits and veggies, or if you just want to be a little healthier, don’t let money keep you from it! By making a few changes in how you grocery shop, you can enjoy fresh fruits and veggies without groaning about the price tag.

Which tip will you try to save money? And what veggies will you buy with the savings? 😉 Comment below to let me know what you tried!

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