As food budgets tighten, you often hear people claim, “it’s more expensive to eat
healthfully.” Smart shoppers know to look for fresh fruits and vegetables IN SEASON
and ON SALE. They also know that there are some super healthy produce items that are
as inexpensive as they are tasty. Check out these deals next time you shop!
1. DRIED BEANS, PEAS, and LENTILS
Beans are a vegetable? You betcha! Legumes (black beans, kidney beans, pintos, chickpeas, red or green lentils, split peas, etc.) do double duty. They are the only foods that count in two groups: veggies AND protein (lean meat/beans). Canned beans are convenient and quite inexpensive, but the real bargains are in dried beans. All it takes is an overnight or quick soak (see package), a couple hours to cook, and they’re perfect for soup, chili, tacos, burritos, or yummy baked beans.
2. YAMS and SWEET POTATOES (different names, basically same veggie)
Packed with fiber, potassium, vitamins A, C, and phytonutrients, these tasty tubers are nutrition powerhouses. (Popular in African and Caribbean cuisines, true yams are a totally different, but equally nutritious vegetable.) More nutrient-rich than white potatoes, they can also be baked, mashed (a little soft cheese adds tangy creaminess), and turned into delicious baked ‘fries’ (slice, toss with a little olive oil and your favorite seasonings, then bake for 30 minutes in a 425 degree oven).
3. FROZEN FRUITS and VEGETABLES
When fresh produce prices are high and money is tight (like in the winter months), you can feel great about serving frozen produce to your family. Research shows that the frozen veggies (broccoli, green beans, corn, peas, etc.) contain similar levels of vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and potassium as fresh. Frozen berries and other fruit are also nutritionally similar to fresh. Buy a large bag, use what you need, then keep the remaining produce frozen with a tight seal on the bag.
4. CANNED FRUITS and VEGGIES
Canned produce can also be convenient, economical, and healthful (always recycle the cans!). Modern canning locks in nutrients at peak freshness. Due to the absence of oxygen during storage, canned fruits and vegetables remain relatively stable and nutritious until they are served. Look for veggies without added salt and fruit canned in 100% juice. Canned tomatoes are a deliciously inexpensive way to enjoy tomato flavor and nutrition during the cold winter months.
5. DRIED PLUMS (AKA PRUNES) and OTHER FRUIT
Dried fruit is another nutrient-rich option when fresh is too pricey. Rich in vitamin A and several B vitamins, dried fruits also have plenty of minerals, like potassium (and even iron in some cases). Choose brands with no-added sugar and buy in bulk when you can. Easy to store and with no peels to worry about, dried fruit makes a great on-the-go snack - by itself or mixed with nuts and seeds. Dried fruit can also be added to salads, pancake mixes, muffins, rice dishes, and casseroles.
The programs of the MSU Extension Service are available to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. Issued in furtherance of cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Douglas Steele, Vice Provost and Director, Extension Service, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717.
Montana State University Extension Service is an ADA/EO/AA/Veteran's Preference Employer and educational outreach provider.