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.
To save money:
- 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.
To save time and money:
- 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.
You already know that a healthy diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables which are good sources of vitamins and minerals. They are lower in calories and higher in fiber than many other foods. They are essential for good health at all age levels and are important in reducing the incidence of certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes.
Take small steps now to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. It’s a great way to stay healthy and maybe even lose a few pounds!