Saturday, January 16, 2016
Fruit and Vegetable Cost Breakdowns Per Serving
I know you can do this math yourself, but I also know that most people won't and that it's sometimes interesting to think of our food in terms of how much one piece costs. It puts it in perspective and helps us realize how much we're actually spending/saving on certain foods. At this diet-y time of year, I hope it will help people realize that their healthy food choices aren't necessarily as expensive as we're sometimes led to believe. In fact, if you're wise (or even just a little not dumb) you can often get a full day's fruits and veggies for the cost of a cup of Starbucks coffee.
You guys know that one of my biggest cheapskate pet peeves is when people talk about how much cheaper junk food is than healthy food. While this may be true calorie by calorie (that snack cake or serving of mac and cheese is higher in calories than your bananas or spoonful of peanut butter), I do not always find that junkie foods are particularly more filling than their healthier counterparts and I find them considerably less satisfying. Today we're talking about fruits and veggies. Maybe they don't make a meal, but as a snack they can certainly tide us over just as well as a handful of chips.
I'd like to note that I'm using Walmart pricing here. It's cheap, but not the cheapest. If you have access to stores like Aldi and Ruler foods, you will generally get these foods for 15-30% less. That adds up. These prices are for non-organic foods. Yeah, organic's great, but Kraft mac and cheese isn't organic either so let's compare apples to apples (or non-organic apples to non-organic Kraft mac and cheese as it were).
I'd also like to note that some foods like strawberries and peppers tend to vary hugely in price depending on season (all fruits and vegetables do, but some do a LOT). Generally I haven't included those foods on this list.
1. Oranges. 3 pounds for $3. (Often in season at cheap stores like Aldi and Ruler foods, I can even find 3 pounds for $2). My bag of oranges came with 12 oranges. That's $.25/orange.
2. Bananas. 3 pound for $1.50. Bananas are the classic cheapskate fruit--filling, healthy, very cheap. I ate one every day in college. My bunch came to me with about 8 bananas. That's about $.19/banana.
3. Carrots. 1 pound for $1. My bag comes to me with 8-10 carrots. That's about $10/carrot. Again--I ate one of these every single day of my college life. I didn't bother peeling them or anything. In fact, friends would tease me because every day a carrot would be there--sticking out of one of the outer mesh pockets of my backpack. Seriously, these little nutrition sticks kept me from premature death.
4. Broccoli. 1 pound for $1.50. Let's break it into 3 servings for easy math. That's a lot of broccoli and it's only $.50.
5. Spinach. Remember this is everybody's favorite superfood. 1 pound for $1.50. Let's break it into 6 servings for easy math, (and because unless you're using this in smoothies or another dish), you'll be hard pressed to eat that much raw spinach in a serving. $.25/serving.
6. Apples. 3 pounds for $3 (and a little more out of season--I must admit). I usually get between 6-8 apples per bag. That's $.37-$.50/serving.
7. Cuties. These things aren't cheap, but they're so, well, adorable, and much loved by children, and a fruit children can actually peel and eat by themselves. That makes them valuable to me. They come in 2 pound bags for about $5. Each bag has a jillion (or 22-26). If you count 2 as a serving, that's still just $.38/serving.
8. Grapes. Again, not the cheapest fruit unless it's on sale, but still surprisingly not expensive per serving. $1.50 per pound. That's about $.50/serving.
9. Sweet potatoes. 2 pounds for $2 means about $.50/serving.
10. Peppers. These are another veggie powerhouse. They're not that cheap in the winter, but you can usually still find them for $1.50-$2.00 per pound. And at that price, a serving is still around $.50.
Bonus: Some less usual fruits and vegetables.
But those are all so boring you're saying. What if I want to go to Whole Foods and buy star fruit? Well, you certainly can and there's nothing wrong with that, though it's probably not your cheapest option. Here are some less expensive ways to break out of your rut.
-Kiwi fruit. I honestly haven't bought this at Walmart in years. But at Aldi, you can get 3 for $1.00. That's $.33/fruit. I'd guess they're about $.50/fruit at Walmart.
-Pomegranates. Right now I can often find them for $1.00 at Aldi or about $2.00 at Walmart. That's $.50-$1.00/serving.
-Unusual greens (swiss chard, bok choy). At Walmart you can buy a HUGE bag of mixed baby greens for $3. It includes spinach, chard, bok choy. It's easily less than $.25/serving and delicious.