Shopping on the Cheap

These “April showers” are certainly living up to their reputation. So far, the spring is warm, but not so much yet that our farmer’s markets are open and bursting with vibrant produce. The conventional grocery stores into which I’ve stepped lately feature piles of pineapple and citrus. Give me some veggies, too, please!

During conversations with Manna’s families, I find that most shoppers find fresh fruits and vegetables too expensive for their budget. Shopping seasonally is one budget-friendly technique, but this can be confusing at conventional stores with year-round tomatoes, apples, and peppers imported from all of the world. Thankfully, there are more places in the store to find wholesome foods.

We often forget about the wonder of the grocer’s freezer section. I’m not talking about frozen TV dinners, pizzas, and waffles. Plain frozen fruits and vegetables are a great year-round bargain when you stick to the store brand. Not to mention, this is the ultimate prepared convenience food to which a nutrition expert can offer a hearty stamp of approval. The two-pound bag of frozen broccoli, less than $2, lasts far longer than the fresh broccoli and all need not be cooked at once. This inexpensive purchase means a healthy green veggie that lasts the entire month!

I almost always have an array of frozen veggies in my own freezer: broccoli, cauliflower, edamame, corn, mixed peppers, spinach, peas, and butternut squash. Quick quesadillas, stir fries, and rice dishes are easily made more nutrient-rich by just stirring in a handful. I also love to mash frozen veggies (after roasting) for flavorful soups and lasagnas.
Consider frozen fruit, too! Berries, mango, and pineapple are longer-lasting and require less chopping than their out-of-season siblings in the fresh departments. I love to add these to whole wheat pancake batter, smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal–most do not even require thawing.

If you are passionate about good food, and have a interest in helping Manna’s clients learn how to shop healthy on a budget, write me! Lindsey@mannafood.org

Happy, healthy shopping!