Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

About The Buzz: Fruits And Vegetables Are Too Expensive?

TheBUZZ : Fruits and vegetables are too expensive?

The cost of food is high enough as it is, making it even harder to afford adding fruits and vegetables.


With prices for everything on the rise, food dollars are stretched. In 2008, food prices increased over 6% (a much higher increase than previous years). To add to the problem, the economic hardships that are experienced by many families have made putting food on the table even more difficult. To economize, people are eating at home more often and learning about ways to be more economically savvy when it comes to food shopping.

During these times of economic hardship, it’s important to evaluate your shopping cart to see if you’re getting the most nutrition ‘bang’ for your buck. This means getting the most nutrition for the same amount of money. Fruits and vegetables are full of beneficial compounds that are essential in every diet and contrary to popular belief, they’re very affordable!


A recent study published by the Economic Research Service (a department of the USDA) found that in 2008, an adult on a 2,000-calorie diet could satisfy recommendations for vegetable and fruit consumption (based off of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans) at an average price of $2.00 to $2.50 per day.¹

Let’s put this in perspective …

Price Comparison Chart

One Option The Healthier Option
1 lb of cookies 2 lbs apples
1-lb bag of chips 2 lbs oranges
2 liters of soda 1 lbs bananas
1/2 gallon of ice cream 1 lbs broccoli
  2 lbs potatoes
  1 lbs cabbage
  1 lbs carrots
  1 lbs romaine lettuce
This will cost you … $13.00 All of this will cost you … $13.38
Cost estimates are based on data from the Department of Labor Consumer Price Index-Average Price Data*

Bottom line … for $0.38 more you get much more nutritionally-sound foods!


Fruits and vegetables can be included … even on a budget. Careful planning and shopping and an open mind will help with juggling the food dollar.

Try these tips to make fruits and veggies even more affordable …

    • Eat all formsfresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice—of fruits and veggies; they’re all good for you. Survey the store or market and purchase the cheapest form of a certain fruit or vegetable.
    • Try our 30 Ways in 30 Days menu collection for complete menus that feed up to 4 for less than $10 (that’s hard to beat!).
    • Plan ahead! See our tips for shopping for fruits and veggies on a shopping for fruits and veggies on a fixed budget!
    • Shop in season! Buying fresh fruits and veggies in season is generally the cheapest time to buy them.
    • Substitute plant sources of protein (beans, lentils, peas, etc.) for animal sources—a one-pound bag of beans yields 6 cups of cooked beans for about $1.40 a bag!

Also, not only do fruits and veggies provide essential nutrients to promote a healthy body, they play an important role in managing a healthy weight too. Fast foods, low-nutrient-dense foods (like cookies and soda), and high-fat foods often lack both of these qualities, and the detrimental effects of consuming large quantities can lead to increased medical costs in the future. Therefore, eating healthy now can save you not only money but your health as well!

*Cost estimates are based on data from the Department of Labor Consumer Price Index-Average Price Data for the average of U.S. cities. The highest price recorded in 2008 was used, so estimates do not consider seasonal and regional variations, or sales and specials that might be available.


¹ Stewart, H., J. Hyman, J. Buzby, et al. “How Much Do Fruits and Vegetables Cost?” U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service (2010), accessed March 28, 2011. http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/EIB71/


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