Eating Well on a Budget: Part 3 – Vegetables
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Eating Well on a Budget: Part 3 – Vegetables

Posted on Monday, December 3rd, 2012 at 8:00 am
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Eating Well on a Budget Part 2 – Fruits

Vegetables. As children, our moms pushed us to finish our veggies before standing up from the dinner table. As adults, we do the same thing to our own kids. Love them or hate them, vegetables are necessary for a well-rounded diet. They provide our bodies with much needed nutrients like iron, fiber, vitamin C, carbohydrates and more. The Environmental Working Group has compiled a list of 28 vegetables that provide you with the most nutrition at the lowest cost. Each member of your family should aim for 3 servings of veggies a day. The Environmental Working Group recommends spending about $6.00 on vegetables for every $25 spent on your overall food budget.

The Environmental Working Group’s list of vegetables include: kale, mixed salad greens, spinach turnip greens, fresh pumpkin, sweet potato, tomatoes, frozen corn, fresh lima beans, Brussels sprouts, chayote, eggplant, okra, snow peas, zucchini and other squashes. The vegetables that provide the best value include: alfalfa sprouts, cabbage, onions, green onions, potatoes, calabaza, carrots, tomato juice, broccoli, collards, romaine lettuce, mustard greens, and parsley. Keep in mind that many dark greens along with potatoes may have more pesticides than other vegetables. If your budget allows for it, look for organic varieties. Of course, you can branch out from this list as well. While these are the EWG’s “best picks,” there are plenty of other vegetables out there for you to try and enjoy!

Greens keep your body full of iron and B vitamins, which help your body produce blood cells to keep your energized and feeling great. Starchy vegetables like corn, potatoes, and lima beans are filled with healthy carbohydrates, which when digested, convert into energy. It’s important to remember that it’s best to eat a variety of vegetables, but you want to limit the starchy stuff. Like many things, high-carbohydrate veggies are best in moderation.

There are plenty of ways to eat your three daily servings. Add a vegetable or two to your dinner plate each night or pile a few on your sandwich for lunch. You can also enjoy carrot sticks or broccoli with some hummus for a mid-day snack that is low in calories and great for you! Try chopping up a variety of vegetables and add them to your favorite broth to create a delicious vegetable soup. This is also a fantastic way to use up a bunch of produce before it goes bad. With vegetables, the possibilities are endless!

Try stocking up on longer lasting vegetables to make your dollar stretch further. Potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and sweet potatoes last for several weeks. You can also buy frozen vegetables to cut back on costs.

Just like fruit, shopping for vegetables seasonally will help you save money and enjoy an organic diet. You can also pick up some veggies at your local farmer’s market. You’ll often get produce at a fraction of what you’d spend in a market.

Next up: Eating Well On a Budget: Part 4 – Grains

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.