Eating well (and by that I mean healthy) on a budget is tough. Add in preparing food for just one person on top of a very busy schedule and I make a beeline for the frozen foods section! While I don’t love eating prepared food for lunch and dinner (breakfast I can do), I can get by as long as I integrate fresh foods into my meals. While this may seem like a fairly simple undertaking, it’s not always that easy. Not only is fresh produce (frozen is fine, as long no sugar, salt or other things have been added, but I’d rather have something fresh when pairing with a frozen meal) out of season, but it’s super expensive this time of year. Really it’s expensive all year, when compared to a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese or a can of Progresso soup. This is no excuse to skip on the natural stuff. We all eat enough boxed and canned food as it is, and processed foods just don’t have the same nutritional value as their fresh counterparts.
Recently, I’ve noticed how very few fresh fruits and vegetables I’m eating at home. If I could have my way, I’d keep a wide variety of fruits and veggies in my fridge/pantry to eat at all hours of the day. Alas, Mother Nature and my financial situation make this impossible. Right now, all I’m buying on the fruit front are bananas and apples. As much as I love both, they get old pretty fast. What I do buy I can’t seem to get to fast enough. The heat in my apartment is ripening the fruit faster than I can consume it. Onions, potatoes and the occasional zucchini are about as adventurous as I get with veggies. Despite my frustration over lacking resources, a balanced diet that encompasses all the food groups is very important. Fresh fruits and veggies (no juice, please) are full of fiber and vitamins both of which are essential to good health. Below are some great tips for purchasing and storing produce as well as ideas for how to prepare it.
Watch for deals. Stock up when you can and freeze what you won’t use right away.
Pay attention when picking out fresh produce. Don’t buy anything overripe. Store it in a cool, dry place and don’t wash it until you’re ready to eat it. Check out these tips for how to buy, check for freshness and store a variety of fruits fresh. Consult this vegetable buying guide before heading to the grocery store.
Think of ways to include fruits and veggies in every meal so that nothing goes to waste.
10 Ways to Use Root Vegetables
Browse recipes for easy, affordable options that you’ll want to cook again and again
Simply Recipes – Vegetable Recipes
14 Quick Vegetarian Recipes for the Hopeless Cook
Quick Vegetable Side Dish recipes from MarthaStewart.com
Eat fruit for dessert as a way to incorporate more into your diet. Your waistline will thank you.
I hope these tips and suggestions help you to eat healthier and take advantage of all the delicious fruits and veggies out there!