Hopefully, the frost is behind us, and we are all anticipating warm weather, bringing outside activities and gardens! With garden season coming, people are planning what they will grow this year. Having fresh fruits and vegetables in our backyard and available at local markets makes it much easier to choose healthier options. Many times, the barrier to eating healthy is cost. Here are a few tips for smart shopping for fruits and veggies!
Getting enough healthy food promotes health and can reduce your risk of certain diseases. First, celebrate the season by using fruits and veggies that are in season. It is easy to find these and usually cheaper than other items in the produce section. Check your local farmer’s market! That is a great place to find what is in season.
Check the local store’s sales papers and see if there are specials that will help keep costs down. Then, plan your meals before going to the store, only purchasing what is needed. Be sure only to buy quantities that can be consumed that week, so it will not go to waste. Another option is to try canned or frozen fruits and veggies. Look at the price and the number of servings from fresh, canned, and frozen. You may find that those items are cheaper.
When fruits and veggies are on sale, buy a large bag if it is something you use often. For example, potatoes and squash/zucchini have a longer shelf life than bananas, tomatoes, or peaches which spoil faster. Canned and frozen can be purchased in larger quantity since it lasts much longer than fresh. Make sure you are checking the store brands for a better price. Do not get roped into buying precut or ready-to-eat. You are just paying for convenience here. One thing that is fun for the family is to start seeds and grow your own plants. You can plant a garden in the yard or put plants in containers or flower beds. Freeze any leftover sides or soups that may be used in casseroles.
Now that we have all these yummy fruits and veggies let’s talk about how to keep them safe to eat. When shopping for fruits and veggies, put them in plastic bags provided in the store and keep them separate from raw meat in the cart. Always wash hands with warm water and soap before handling. Wash raw fruits and vegetables before cooking or eating them. After washing, dry them with a paper towel. You can scrub fruits and vegetables with thicker skins using a brush under running water.
It is important to include more fruits and vegetables in meals and snacks. Here are a few ways:
- You can always add fruit to cereal or yogurt.
- Make fruit and vegetable smoothies.
- Eat carrot sticks or apples with peanut butter over chips and crackers.
- Add extra veggies to sandwiches, such as cucumbers, avocados, lettuce, and tomato.
- Add bananas to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
- Add shredded carrots and cabbage to tacos and burritos.
So, as we enter the summer season, find some healthier options and take advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables available to you. Then, get outside and work a garden or walk at a local track to get in some exercise. Enjoy your summer!
*Info obtained from Eating Smart Being Active: Fruits and Veggies Half Your Plate