We’ve been talking about the importance of including more fruits and vegetables in your organic diet. 

But many shoppers avoid the produce aisle, thinking it’s too expensive. In truth, preparing a meatless dinner is usually more economical than relying on beef, chicken, pork or seafood for protein. 

The trick is to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, according to registered dietitian Holly Scherer of the University of Michigan Health System. And buying by the bag, instead of individual pieces, also tends to be cheaper, she notes. We like the option of visiting your local farmers’ market, where the produce is freshly picked and available at extremely reasonable prices. 

If you crave a fruit or veggie that’s not in season, Scherer recommends going with a canned or frozen option—just as nutritious because the produce is packaged at its peak of freshness. Look for the generic or store brand, she says—and we second the motion. The Whole Foods Market brand of canned beans and vegetables, for example, rivals the prices at any mainstream supermarket. 

“A great way to get fresh fruits and vegetables right outside your own door is to plant a vegetable garden,” Scherer adds. “Or, if you don’t have space, you can plant a few plants in a pot. You may pay $1 to $2 for a vegetable plant, but you’re going to get a very large amount of produce from that.”