How often have you heard or read, “Healthy food is expensive?” Fruits and vegetables, in particular, are sometimes mentioned as overly pricey and inaccessible for many people. Which, when we’re talking about health, is a problem. Produce delivers important nutrients, such as vitamins and fiber, as well as phytochemicals that may protect us against a host of chronic diseases. Salad, in particular, is a healthy choice that can include any number of fruits and vegetables.
When the USDA revised their recommendations for a healthy diet, they also did a parallel study analyzing the cost of following their recommendations. Specifically, the USDA calculated the average cost per serving for fruits and vegetables (to come up with the average, they looked at fresh, frozen and canned) and found that, on average, they cost 50 cents per one-cup serving. For an adult eating 2,000 calories per day, the USDA recommends eating 4 1/2 cups per day (2 1/2 cups vegetables and 2 cups of fruit), which would cost roughly $2.25/day.
Depending on the fruits and vegetables you choose, that number can be much higher…and, in some cases, it’s lower. Still, the take-home is the same: getting in those fruits and vegetables doesn’t necessarily have to be out of reach. Looking at cost alone, you could choose to either buy a bag of chips and a soda or 4 1/2 servings of fruits and vegetables.
And although 4 1/2 cups might sound like a lot, spread over the course of a day it seems pretty doable. Here’s an example of how you can add in 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables across 3 meals and a snack, to whatever else you eat throughout the day:
1 cup of watermelon
2 cups of Romaine lettuce (2 cups leafy greens counts as 1 cup of vegetables) + 1/2 cup of carrot sticks or grape tomatoes
1/2 large baked sweet potato + 1/2 cup frozen green beans or peas
1/2 cup canned peaches