We all know fresh fruit and veg is good for us,and you must have heard a million times that we need to eat our ‘five-a-day’, yet 95% of the Victorian population doesn’t get their 2 and 5. All this natural goodness can leave a bit of a dent in our budgets. So how can we eat the recommended fruit and veg without taking out a bank loan?
Don’t just eat smart, shop smart.
Eating and shopping is easier said than done. Especially when recent studies tell us that fresh fruit and veg can cost more in rural Victoria than in the cities. Here are a few simple things you can do to keep the cost down, wherever you live.
1. Keep it seasonal and keep it local
Buying local, seasonal produce means you’re not paying for the transportation and storage of the produce. These extra costs add a huge amount to your food items (as they could literally be coming from the other side of the world).
Oh, and it helps save our planet too, as buying locally cuts down on wasted energy and greenhouse gases caused by shipping and refrigerating.
Seasonal produce also tastes better - fresher and more flavorsome.
To find out what’s in season right now, visit Environment Victoria
2. Shop at Farmer’s Markets
Lower prices can usually be found at Farmer’s Markets compared with supermarkets and the produce is more likely to be free from nasty pesticides. You will be supporting your local farmers and there might even be a petting zoo for the kids to enjoy. Win win win. Find your closest Farmer’s Market here.
3. Pick out the deals
Every week your local grocer will have deals on a handful of fresh food items. Take advantage of them, they’ll save you loads. Just remember that these deals usually exist because the grocer needs to get rid of surplus stock, so the items could expire shortly. So check the date and freshness before you buy. You might just have to eat the fruit and veg in the next couple of days or perhaps throw them in the freezer to use at a later date. Frozen fruit is great for creating your own delicious smoothies.
4. Take a look in the freezer section
Yes, you read that correctly. These days, frozen food doesn’t mean that it is any less nutritious than if it was fresh. Nearly all frozen fruit and veg is now snap frozen - at the point of being picked - so it’s just as good, but more affordable and importantly, is ready to cook when you are.
5. Buy ugly
Funny looking carrots and bobbly apples have always been available at your local Farmer’s Market or grocer, but now even the big guys are selling these previously unloved items – and they’re a lot cheaper. They might not win a beauty contest, but they taste just as good.
6. Eat more apples
Apples are in season all year round in Australia. Just look for which ones are cheapest and you’ll know which ones are in season this week. Easy.
7. Introduce more beans and lentils to your meals
Beans and lentils are what we call legumes, but they’re also vegetables and therefore count towards your five-a-day. They’re versatile, nutritious, low in fat and relatively cheap. Oh, and they come in cans, so you can have them in the cupboard for whenever they’re needed.
Some tips to increase your fruit and vegetable intake
- Include some fresh or frozen berries or banana on your morning cereal, or add some tomatoes, mushrooms, capsicum and avocado to your plate along with your morning eggs.
- Have a piece of fruit in your bag as a quick on-the-go snack when hunger hits – much cheaper and healthier than a sweet muffin or sausage roll.
- Include a vegetable snack such as cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and snow peas at morning or afternoon tea. Kids love dipping food, so add some hummus or tzatziki to increase the fun!
- Don’t have time to cook dinner after a long day at work? Instead of getting expensive takeaway, hit the supermarket for a cooked chicken or some deli meat and grab some salad leaves and vegetables to whip up a quick salad.
- Add a tin of beans and some grated carrot and zucchini to balance out the meat in your spaghetti bolognese sauce – makes it go further as well!
Here’s a couple of seasonal recipe ideas
Here’s a quick and easy frittata courtesy of the Albany Farmers Market. Add a green salad to make it extra delicious!
You will Need:
2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small Onion (or1/2 a large one) chopped finely
1 Zucchini, preferably small (about 220g) thinly sliced
100g of button mushrooms - about 10 - halved
3 tablespoons of Parsley washed and chopped
2 tablespoons of Basil, roughly torn leaves
6 beaten large free range eggs
150g of Feta, crumbled
Salt and Pepper to taste
This can all be cooked in your favourite frypan - about 22/25cms.
Heat the oil over a moderate heat, add the onion, stir well, add the mushrooms,stir well and then add the sliced zucchini. Season to taste with salt and pepper Cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add chopped herbs, followed by the gently pouring all the beaten egg mixture over Crumble the Feta all over the top. Cook covered on a moderate heat for about 5 minutes until just setting.
Finish off under a pre-heated grill until bubbling and set or place in a pre-heated 180c oven, again for about 5 minutes till set.
An ideal dish for a picnic - take in the pan and decant, if necessary onto a platter when you are ready to eat.