produce aisle

Time and time again, reports have shown that it is possible to eat healthfully on a budget, yet the myth persists that fresh food is always more expensive. While some fresh produce is expensive—fresh raspberries, for example, average more than $7 per pound—many fresh foods are very affordable. We’ve rounded up the top 12 nutritious fresh foods you can buy.

Fruits:

  1. Watermelon — Watermelon averages just $0.17 per cup, meaning you can indulge in a whole lot of sweet antioxidants for not very much moolah.
  2. Bananas — At only $0.21 per edible cup, bananas pack a huge nutritional wollop for not a lot of money. They make a great individually packaged on-the-go snack.
  3. Oranges — Another snack that comes in its own biodegradable wrapper, oranges have the added bonus of keeping for a long time when properly stored.
  4. Pears — Full of fiber and a steal at only $0.42 per cup.
  5. Honeydew — Another winning melon, clocking in at an average of only $0.45 per cup.
  6. Plums — Purple foods are nutritional powerhouses, and plums are super sweet and super nutritious.

    Vegetables:
     

  7. Cauliflower — This crunchy crucifor is only $0.31 per cup! Try this amazing Manchurian cauliflower recipe for a dish that will convert nonbelievers.
  8. Cabbage — Versatile and delicious, cabbage is a nutritional and inexpensive winner. It also keeps for weeks!
  9. Carrots — Buy whole carrots, not babies, and you’ll save a bundle. You can always cut them into sticks at home!
  10. Onions — Spice up your life with these inexpensive veggies.
  11. Celery — Perfect for snacking or stirring into soups or stews. At $0.33 per cup, celery is a way better vehicle for your dips than chips.
  12. Sweet Potatoes — Bring on the vitamin A! These orange gems are crazy nutritious and a varitable grocery store steal.
Why aren’t apples and white potatoes—two of the cheapest players in the produce aisle—on the list? Because both are on the EWG’s dirty dozen list of produce with the most pesticides. And while you can absolutely buy these beauties organic, it does increase the price.
Of course, the prices for all fresh fruits and vegetables fluctuate depending on the season.  Watermelon and honeydew, for example, will be cheap and plentiful in the summer, while pears and apples make their cheapest debuts during the fall.  Other seasonal fruits and veggies may make an appearance on the cheapest list at certain times of the year.  In the summer, for example, corn can often be had for just pennies per ear.  
Try buying fresh fruits and vegetables when they’re at their cheapest and freezing, drying, or canning them for the rest of the year.  You can also seek out farm stands and you-pick-em farms in your area, which may have even better deals on fresh fruits and vegetables when they’re in season. 

Photo Credit: I-5 Design & Manufacture via Compfight cc