Top 7 Healthy Vegetables on a Budget
High nutritional value vegetables at a lower price point
Feeling the pinch of rising food costs and produce costs at the grocery store? Wondering what the cheapest vegetables you can buy might be that pack good nutrition? This article will focus on some strategies that can help you eat more vegetables on a budget and save on your grocery bill.
How much are food prices and vegetables specifically rising?
In the early part of 2022, Canada’s Food Price Report 2022 forecasted an overall food price increase of 5-7% for the year ahead which was the highest predicted increase in food prices since the report began over a decade ago. Vegetable costs were predicted to rise 5-7%. At that time it was estimated that families would pay nearly $1,000 more for food this year.
What are some of the factors leading to the rising cost of food and vegetables?
- High energy prices, labour shortages and inflation
- Supply chain disruptions, cost of sanitation and PPE (personal protective equipment), transportation issues and decreased efficiency/disruptions due to closures that started with the global pandemic
- Climate change impacting weather negatively
- Consumer demand for sustainable and ethical practices
- Russian invasion of the Ukraine added stress to commodity prices of things like wheat and oil as well as the cost of fertilizers for farmers crops
What are the cheapest vegetables to buy that have a high amount of nutrition?
First of all it is important to note that ALL vegetables are good vegetables so go with the vegetables that are available to you, that are affordable for your budget and that you enjoy.
Before shopping check out your local grocery store flyers and buy what is in season as the taste and price point will often be better. Wondering which vegetable are in season to inspire your meal planning? Check out this handy guide “What’s in Season: Your Guide to Canadian Fruits and Vegetables”
Here are 7 of the cheapest vegetables on a budget:
- Cabbage is most often enjoyed raw in a coleslaw such as something like this Apple Poppyseed Coleslaw recipe.
- You might also enjoy cabbage in a soup, stir-fry, steamed or in cabbage rolls or casseroles.
- Try this Roasted Cabbage recipe or simple weekday Sauteed Cabbage side dish.
- Learn more about green cabbage
- Learn more about red cabbage
2. Bok choy
- Bok choy is an easy vegetable to cook and often enjoyed in a soup or stir-fry with meat or tofu and rice or noodles.
- Serve it as a simple side dish for busy weeknights using a recipe such as this for Baby Bok Choy with Sesame Seeds.
- Try this recipe for a Salmon & Stir-fry Sheet Pan Dinner or in a wrap in this recipe for Chinese Vegetable Roll-Ups.
- Download a bok choy information sheet.
- Carrots are great eaten raw on their own or with hummus or a veggie dip.
- They are also great grated into a salad such as this one here for a Sweet and Crunchy Carrot Salad or enjoyed steamed or mashed.
- Here are two of my favorite ways to enjoy carrots: Roasted Carrots and Rutabaga or in this Creamy Carrot Soup recipe.
- Learn more about carrots
4. Canned tomatoes
- Canned diced tomatoes are an excellent addition to many meals such as a basic Arrabbiata pasta or as a tomato meat sauce, vegetarian chili, Chili Con Carne, soup such as this tasty Tortilla Soup Recipe or blended into a pizza sauce.
- Try making Shakshuka (North African and Middle Eastern egg dish) for either supper or brunch on the weekend.
- When fresh tomatoes are pricey try substituting these for canned tomatoes in casseroles such as this one for Tomato and Cauliflower Pasta Bake.
- Learn all about tomatoes.
5. Frozen peas
- Frozen peas should be a staple in your freezer. They are highly nutritious and simple to cook. Enjoy them as a fast weekday side dish with a touch of butter, salt and pepper or with fresh squeezed lemon and grated parmesan cheese.
- Try this tasty recipe for Easy Indian Spiced Peas and if you love guacamole you might also want to try this 4 ingredient Pea and Avocado Dip recipe for a fun variation
- Download a green pea information sheet.
- Zucchini can be eaten raw but the key is to spiralize or shave into paper thin ribbons using a vegetable peeler for an enjoyable delicate texture. Try this recipe for Zucchini Salad Spiralized or simple Zucchini Ribbons Salad.
- Try this Pea, Zucchini and Pesto Orzo Recipe or 4 Ingredient Cheesy Zucchini Bites and if you are hosting guests enjoy this recipe for Zucchini Wrapped Bocconcini.
- Last but not least – zucchini works great added into baking so give my recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Bread a try!
- Download a zucchini information sheet.
7. Fresh or frozen spinach
- While obviously fresh spinach is ideal for salads such as in this Grilled Mango and Spinach Pork Salad, consider using frozen spinach for a wide variety of cooked recipes such as this simple side dish for Spinach with Garlic and Olive Oil Recipe. The key with frozen spinach is to thaw it completely and press out as much water as you can before using.
- If you purchase more spinach than you can use be sure to toss it into the freezer in containers or sealed bags with the air squished out of it to prevent food waste.
- Enjoy spinach in Stuffed Pasta or in a Crustless Quiche with Feta Cheese or tossed into a smoothie to create a healthy Green Smoothie for breakfast or a snack.
- Download a spinach information sheet
What are some other cost savings tips for my grocery bill and overall budget in general?
Looking for the cheapest vegetables at the store is one option but don’t forget to think about reducing food waste and how you manage your produce drawer in your refrigerator.
Check out this previous article and video on reducing food waste at home and understanding the proper storage of fruits and vegetables here: How to Reduce Food Waste at Home
Also check out this article on our blog: Tips and Tricks for Grocery Shopping on a Budget
Check out the visual pictures on this page showcasing “What Can $20 Get You” when it comes to fruits and veggies.
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About Andrea Holwegner
CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker
Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more