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Getting your 5-a-day on a budget

Five a day plateCost is often cited as one of the main barriers to achieving a healthy diet and the 5-A-Day recommendation. In this weeks blog we provide some top tips for finding reasonably priced fruit and vegetables.

Buy foods that are in season

Eating seasonal foods is cheaper and will help you to cut the cost of your weekly spend on food. When we buy foods in season, we buy it at the peak of it’s supply, meaning it costs less to farm, harvest and get to the supermarket. It might seem like common sense, but it’s something we often ignore when we’re shopping. It’s easy to fall into the rut of buying the same fruit and vegetables every week without looking at the fluctuating cost. Supermarkets contain the same fruit and vegetables year round, whether you visit in July or December, however the cost can differ drastically. So try to “seasonalise” your menus and shopping list.

The fruits and vegetables in season over the summer months include:

Seasonal Veg list

Avoid pre- packaged and prepared fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables sometimes cost more pre-packed than loose. Check the price per weight (for example £/kg). Stores know that consumers want to buy in bulk, and so they mix it up: sometimes the packed produce is cheaper, sometimes it’s more expensive. Also, pre-packed isn’t always the freshest and you may end up with more than you need.

Vegetables

Consider where you buy your fruit and vegetables

They are often cheaper at local street markets or farmers’ markets. For example here in Newham many of the market stalls and fruit and vegetable shops sell bowls of fruit and vegetables for £1!

Keep your eyes peeled for special offers!

Look out for special offered such as 50% extra free and buy on get one free offers. This is a good time to buy fruits and vegetables!

Shop online

Price comparison websites, such as mysupermarket.com, let you select a basket of products and then choose the cheapest supplier. The price differences can be significant! Unlike going to the shops, you’ll know how much you’ve spent before going to the till, which can make it easier to stay within budget.

Avoid waste

Sometimes we don’t always get round to cooking and eating food before it’s best before or use-by date. As fruits and vegetables approach their use- by-date, try using them in a stew, soup or casserole and then freezing them. For more information on safely storing foods visit NHS Choices.

Family eating together

Buy frozen

Look for good deals on frozen and dried fruit and vegetables, such as frozen peas and dried pulses and beans. They are often cheaper than fresh varieties and are picked at the peak of freshness and then frozen to seal in their nutrients.

Stock up on canned fruit and vegetables

These count towards your 5 A Day and have long shelf lives, so you can buy them in bulk. Buy canned fruit and vegetables, in water or fruit juice, without added salt or sugar. Supermarket own-brand varieties are usually the cheapest.

Cook with pulses

Pulses, such as beans, lentils and peas, are some of the cheapest foods on the supermarket shelf. These pulses are low in calories and fat but packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals and also count towards your 5 A Day. Use them in dishes to replace chicken or meat, such as a chilli con carne with kidney beans or a chicken curry with chickpeas.

Make a healthy food swap

Another great way of saving money is to swap your am or pm snack for a piece of fruit. For example, a packet of crisps cost around 70p, whereas bananas and apples cost around 20p (that’s a saving of £180 a year!).

Look up cheap recipes

Cheap doesn’t have to mean less tasty! There are lots of websites offering recipes for cheap eats and leftover ingredients. Check out Change4Life’s meal mixer and NHS Choices healthy recipes section for some inspiration.

Book Training

Book our Cooking Skills training for information, tips and ideas on preparing fruits and vegetables in your early years setting and explore ways to support children to learn about food.

Have you got any top tips for keeping the cost of fruits and vegetables low? Leave your comments below!

By Georgia Leech

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