Keeping Food Costs Down: What Fruits and Vegetables Give You the Most Bang for Your Buck?

One of the best changes that people can make to improve the quality of their diet is to increase fruits and vegetables.  However, despite the fact that many people know this, very few Americans eat the recommended 5 servings of produce per day.  One barrier is that people often say that fruits and vegetables are too expensive and they can’t afford to eat them.  Because of this, I was very interested when I saw a research article in the September issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Deitetics on which vegetables provide the most nutrients for the cost.

This article reported on a study that was done to determine which fruits and vegetables (including juices and soups) provide the most nutrients for the money.  The foods that scored highest for nutritional value had the most protein, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, C, and E.  They also were limited in the amount of added sugars, sodium and saturated fats.  Then the cost of these foods was taken into account to determine which nutrient rich foods give you the most bang for your buck.  The top picks are as follows:

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomato Juices and soups
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Broccoli
  • White Potatoes- baked or boiled (sorry, not in the form of chips or French fries)

Dark green leafy vegetables scored very high on nutritional value and came close to making the cut for affordability, but they were a little more expensive than the other items listed above.

Another tip to keep costs down when buying produce is to try to buy produce when it is in season.  Also, frozen fruits and vegetables can often be more affordable and are just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts (just be sure to buy produce without added sugars or salts).

The bottom line- fruits and vegetables can fit into even a tight grocery shopping budget, and this study helps budget-conscious shoppers choose the ones that will give them the most bang for the buck.

Reference: “New Metrics of Affordable Nutrition: Which Vegetables Provide Most Nutrients for Least Cost?” by Adam Drewnowski, PhD.  Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, September 2013.