Karen Ensle EdD, RD, FADA, CFCS Family and Community Health Sciences Educator Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County
The National Cancer Institute and USDA/NIFA have been recommending 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of veggies on a 2,000 calorie daily diet. Research indicates that consuming sufficient produce daily can ward off cancer and other diseases. Unfortunately, only about a quarter of adults listen to these recommendations and, as a result, most Americans have a long way to go to eat the number of cups they need on a daily basis. Many people complain that fruits and veggies are too expensive, they don’t get eaten and rot quickly, and/or they take time to prepare. Here are some easy tips to save time and money so you are eating sufficient fruits and veggies every day. To save time:
- Purchase fruits or vegetables that require little peeling and chopping such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, or grapes.
- Prepare extra vegetables and freeze left-overs for quick side dishes at dinner. Reheat to 165° F and serve.
- Choose ready-packed salad greens for a quick salad any time.
- Top salads, pasta, or sandwiches with pre-cut veggies from the supermarket salad bar.
- Purchase fresh fruits and veggies in season at a local farmer’s market or supermarket. Search to see if your community has local “produce stores” as they are popping up in many areas due to folks requesting more “local” produce.
- Prevent food waste by not overbuying and storing produce correctly.
- Buy in bulk only if you will use it. Freeze excess produce or, instead, purchase frozen, canned, or dried varieties that keep longer.
- Visit nearby farms and local markets and “Pick Your Own” when in season.
- Plan meals ahead and develop a shopping list to limit your impulse purchases.
- Cook for more than one meal at a time and freeze for a later date.
- Prepare one-pot meals using beans or soy rather than high cost meats, fish, or poultry. One-pot meals eliminate the number of pans that need to be washed, thus saving you time.
- Keep planning simple using quick and easy recipes with foods that your family enjoys.