How to buy budget-friendly produce and eat it before it goes bad

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How to buy budget-friendly produce and eat it before it goes bad

By Danielle Billat, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Mar. 28, 2019 at 8:40 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Many of us know what we need to do in order to eat a healthy and balanced diet, but implementing these memorized facts can sometimes be difficult.

We may walk into the grocery store with the best of intentions to buy more fruits and vegetables and actually eat them this time. However, a week or two may pass and we open the produce drawer in the fridge to find a bag of mushy brown lettuce that's gone bad. This is a problem that many people face.

In honor of March being National Nutrition Month, here are some tips to help you make the most of that produce in your fridge before it goes bad.

Buy in season

All produce has an optimal growing season. Buying your produce during the optimal growing season not only improves the quality and taste but it's also less expensive. So, what fruits and vegetables are in-season during spring? Spring is the end of the citrus fruit growing season, so enjoy eating your last few oranges and mangos until the start of the next growing season.

Danielle Billat
Danielle Billat

Know your prices

While knowing when fruits and vegetables are in season is the first step, the second is to know your prices. Pay attention to how much different produce items cost. Tracking prices can help you be sure you're getting a good price. For example, in Utah, a good price for strawberries averages $1.50/lb. or less and a good price for asparagus averages $0.99/lb. or less. Remember, prices can vary by store, city and state, so be sure to do your own research to help you save money and eat healthy.

Plan ahead

Set aside a certain time each week to plan out your meals. Try to plan lunches and dinners that can use the same fruits or vegetables in order to decrease waste and stay within your budget. For example, if you make tacos for dinner one night, use the toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers and avocadoes to make a salad for lunch the next day. Menu planning can also help you save on your overall budget, not just your produce budget. If you plan your meals ahead of time, you may be able to use the local grocery store ads to determine what in-season produce is at a good price this week and plan your meals around them.

(Photo: Danielle Billat)
(Photo: Danielle Billat)

Make it visible and convenient

By placing your fresh produce in a visible location in your kitchen you give yourself a daily reminder to eat your fruits and veggies. Place your fruit and vegetables that don’t need to be refrigerated in a bowl on the counter. Having fresh fruit on the counter makes it easy to grab as you leave for work or when you enter the kitchen to find a snack during the day. Also, spending 10-15 minutes after grocery shopping to prepare pre-made vegetable bags is a great way to make vegetables a more convenient snack. Don’t be afraid to eat your veggies with a little bit of ranch or another dipping sauce. Many vegetables are rich in different vitamins which are better absorbed by your body when eaten with a little bit of fat.

Now that you have a better idea of how to make buying produce more affordable, how do you eat it? Here are a few recipe ideas using those in-season spring vegetables:

Grilled mixed vegetables

(Photo: Shahzadi Devje, Desi~licious RD Inc.)
(Photo: Shahzadi Devje, Desi~licious RD Inc.)

This recipe from Desi~licious RD is a great option for cooking asparagus and other vegetables.

Spinach and Lentil Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

(Photo: Kristine Duncan, Veg Girl RD)
(Photo: Kristine Duncan, Veg Girl RD)

This recipe from Veg Girl RD is a nutritious salad that adds a little twist on your basic spinach salad.

Any Veggie Breakfast Casserole

(Photo: Alyssa Ashmore)
(Photo: Alyssa Ashmore)

This recipe from AlyssaAshmore.com is a great choice for spring or any season of the year. Simply add whatever vegetables are in season and cook it up for a yummy breakfast or dinner.

Enjoy these recipes and good luck using up those fruits and vegetables!


Danielle Billat is a local registered dietitian nutritionist and mother. Contact her at danielle.billat@gmail.com


Editor’s Note: Anything in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended, nor should it be interpreted, to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition; Any opinions, statements, services, offers, or other information or content expressed or made available are those of the respective author(s) or distributor(s) and not of KSL. KSL does not endorse nor is it responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any opinion, information, or statement made in this article. KSL expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on the content of this article.

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