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Eating Seasonal, Fresh and Budget-Friendly!

photo of seasonal food

This month, we’re bringing you seasonal recipes, meal ideas, and other tips to help you eat healthy for less. It takes some planning, but it is possible to follow a healthy meal plan even if you are on a tight budget. Check out our tips for eating seasonally and saving money at the grocery store.

Why Eat Seasonal?

One of the great things about summer is the many fruits and vegetables that are in season. Being in season means they are at their peak quality during the summer months. What’s more, it usually means lower prices at the store, which is good news for your grocery budget!

We all know that fresh produce is a good choice - especially those non-starchy vegetables! Try to fill at least half of your plate with these lower-carbohydrate, low-calorie veggies, which are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Fruit also has a place in your meal plan. If your plan allows, have a small serving of fruit on the side with your meals. Or, it can also make a great snack or sweet treat.

Below you’ll find a list of summer fruits and vegetables. Stock up now and enjoy!

  • Basil
  • Bell Peppers
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Figs
  • Green Beans
  • Honeydew Melons
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Nectarines
  • Okra
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Summer Squash/Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomatillos
  • Watermelon

Frozen and Canned Produce – Another Good Option!

One thing to remember about fresh produce is that you need to eat it within a few days before it spoils. Be realistic when you go to the store so you don’t end up with wasted food, which also means wasted money. Planning your meals out ahead of time and making a list can help.

Other options with a longer shelf life are canned and frozen fruits and vegetables. These are just as nutritious and tend to be on the budget-friendly side as well. Just check prices to compare and find the best deal at your local supermarket. Here are a few things to look for when buying these items:

  • When buying frozen or canned fruit, opt for those without added sugars.
  • Fruit canned in juice is best, but you can also buy fruit canned in syrup and rinse it before eating.
  • When buying frozen or canned vegetables, buy those without added sauces or salt.
  • Always drain and rinse canned vegetables and beans to remove about 40% of the sodium.
  • Sometimes the no-salt added or low-sodium canned vegetables cost more. In this case, you can buy the regular version, just be sure to drain and rinse the vegetables.

Eating seasonal is just one piece of healthy eating on a budget. Find more tips below to help boost the nutrition in your meal plan for less!

Budget-Friendly Tips to Remember Year-Round!

Sign up for your grocery store’s valued customer program. Keep your valued customer card in your wallet or on your keychain and use it every time you shop. This will ensure that you receive automatic discounts. You might also receive additional coupons or other benefits as part of the program.

Shop from a list. Have a plan ahead of time and know what you need. Stick to your list so you don’t end up spending more than you need to!

This is a big one – don’t shop hungry. You’ll be more likely to splurge on less healthy choices that are not on your list if your stomach is rumbling. If you shop on a full stomach, cravings are less likely to occur, helping you stick to your plan to spend less.

Use the unit price to compare similar foods. The unit price is usually on the shelf price sticker. It tells you how much you are paying per pound, ounce, pint, etc. Use the unit price to compare the cost of different brands and different size containers.

Avoid buying diabetic and dietetic foods. These foods can be very pricey and you don’t need them to follow a healthy meal plan. You can eat healthy foods at lower prices and still manage your diabetes.

Opt to buy store brands. Maybe their label isn’t as attractive as the name brand items, but they often taste the same. These items could potentially save you more than 50%.

Buy in bulk, but only if you’ll finish it before it goes bad. Often the unit price of an item goes down as the size of the container goes up. However, remember that wasted food is also wasted money. You know what your family will and will not eat. Don’t spend extra money on the larger container if you know you won’t use it.

Avoid buying individually packaged foods that have been pre-cut or prepared. The more packaging and preparation, the higher the cost of the food item. For example, individually packaged yogurt costs more per ounce than a large 32-ounce container. Fresh, precut produce such as apples, pineapple, or melon will also cost more than buying the whole fruit or vegetable and cutting it yourself.

There are many ways that you can save money and still eat healthfully, starting with the tips above. Take advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as lower-cost frozen and canned produce. If you are looking for budget-friendly recipes, check out our list of meals that cost $10 or less.

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