With it being winter in my hemisphere of the world (and by the looks of it, most of you are up here with me :hug: ) vegetables tend to get a wee bit more expensive. Normally, this is the time of year when I would run to carrots, potatos and other high starch veggies. Alas, none of these are allowed! So, I was wondering what veggies you guys eat that don't break the bank while getting in that 4.5 (or more) cups of veggies a day?
Thanks a bunch!
11-17-2009, 03:45 AM
In the midwest -
Cabbage, celery and onions are cheap year round. Canned diced tomatoes (which can be as healthy or more so than fresh, because more lycopene is available).
I also shop the ads much more closely in the winter, looking for bargains. I made a special trip last week to a store that's usually too expensive for us (but close to where we live), because brussels sprouts were on sale for $1 a pound (usually $3 a pound).
Baked onions are actually a very good side dish. Or there's always onion soup. I love onion soup, and just use chicken, beef, or vegetable broth and slice up several varieties of onions and garlic.
One of my favorite cheap veggie dishes is to layer sliced onion and cabbage (and bell pepper if I have it) in a casserole dish and pour tomato juice or canned diced tomatoes, fresh or dried garlic and about a half teaspoon (hubby would prefer more) of salt or seasoned salt, and bake until everything is tender.
It makes a great meal casserole if you add canned beans (any variety black beans, chickpeas, whatever), tvp or lean meat in with the veggies (browned ground chicken, turkey or extra lean beaf, or slices of cooked or raw meat - you just have to make sure you bake it until the meat is fully cooked and the cabbage is tender).
In oriental groceries here, sometimes there are a lot of varieties of cabbage and onions, too.
I do a lot of sprouting in the winter. Per ounce, sprouting seeds are rather expensive, but they yeild a lot of sprouts, so they're much cheaper than buying sprouts in the grocery.
I buy a lot of frozen veggie mixes from Aldi and Super Walmarts (the same price year round).
11-17-2009, 06:27 AM
Wow, so many great ideas now!
You've got me craving for a real French Onion soup now, yum!
Frozen veggies mixes are generally my savior, but I love the idea of that casserole too.. thanks, I feel very inspired to get some winter veg in now!
11-17-2009, 08:19 AM
I continue to love my kitchen sink salads, so I keep lots of different vegies on hand to add in...cauliflower, radishes, zucchini, green pepper whatever I manage to buy. For me, my salad is a great way to really get my veggies in.
I have a large bag of frozen green beans from Costco right now, and have lots of dehydrated vegies from this summer to add to soups. Having the dehydrator has been great because I can take advantage of sales-last month organic broccoli was on sale so I dried a whole bunch of it.
I find I do alot of cooking and planning around sales. It's kind of like veggie of the week-we eat whats on sale one week then see what is a good deal the next.
11-17-2009, 10:57 AM
I'm with Debbie, whatever the specials are I plan my veggies around that.
Also, I love cabbage, I will shred red and green cabbage, a carrot and keep it in a container in the fridge. When I want some I take it out and add a little mayo mixed with grain mustard and toss it together, then I have whatever leftover protein is in the fridge on top.
11-17-2009, 11:46 AM
I picked up several huge heads of cabbage for $2.25 each. I have a cold back hall and they last quite awhile. Like everyone else I shop sales both fresh and frozen. I also freeze things I really like when I find a good price (right now we have multiple bags of chopped spinach and edamame beans in our freezer). I find that crock pot cooking allows me lots of flexibility with vegetables.
11-17-2009, 12:45 PM
greens. lots and lots of greens. i eat poached eggs on top of steamed spinach for breakfast all the time. we have been eating collard greens and kale out of our garden like crazy just to keep up with the production, and I know they are cheap in stores as well.
11-17-2009, 10:42 PM
Thanks everyone! There are some really great ideas listed here!
11-18-2009, 06:16 AM
Another option is frozen veggies. Not quite as yummy as fresh, but more variety! I have been getting a lot of veggie "blends" at Target lately like the asian one...great for stir fry with shrimp, chicken etc. just saute some onions in olive oil, add the veggies and let them cook for a bit, then add shrimp (Target has pretty good frozen shrimp too!)
The other day I picked up a pack of frozen roasted peppers...really good in a stir fry too along with other vegs and fresh onions. I also like sun dried tomatos that are available pretty much all year.
11-18-2009, 08:55 AM
I definitely also make more use of frozen at this time of year. I was in Walmart last week, and found a huge 5-lb bargain brand of frozen broccoli for cheap. I cooked some up last night and it was good. They had all kinds of stuff. I hate shopping at Walmart, but may have to get in there to load up on veggies from time to time.
11-18-2009, 01:37 PM
Frozen is always a great option. Not only is it convenient (no expensive veggies to throw away because they rotted before they were used), and cheap, but it's also just as nutritious.
Check your local grocery stores to see what's cheapest where. We make a weekly drive out to Wal*Mart because I can get organic milk, cheese, eggs, FF 1/2 and 1/2, and cilantro for very cheap. Our Wegman's sells cilantro for $1.99/bunch. Wal*Mart sells it for 68 cents. Definite savings, since we use it every week.
Buy at local farmer's markets! It's usually cheaper...and sometimes dramatically so. I can get a bunch of leeks (skinny, anemic things) at Wegman's for nearly $3.50 (or more), while two HUGE (we're talking 2.5-3 feet long and 2-3" in circumferance) leeks are $1.50 at our farmer's market. :yikes: Amazing! Of course, it's easier to find farmer's markets throughout the winter if you live in a warmer climate, but some areas have a farmer's market inside in the winter, so check your area!
Plan your meals so you use all of a veggie, especially big ones. For instance, if you buy a cauliflower, you're unlikely to use the whole thing for one recipe--so only buy it if you have planned recipes enough to use it all that week.
Buy in bulk, if you'll use it all before it goes bad. I can get some fabulous deals at Sam's Club (i.e. Costco) for green beans, spring mix, bell peppers, etc. However, you end up with a huge amount of food. Either freeze the leftovers, if you can, or make sure you can use it all before you buy it.
Buy vegetables in season. Even though it's getting pretty cold in some parts of the U.S., some vegetables are in season. Look for chards, cabbages, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. They do well in cold weather and may be available for less cost locally. Our green beans go down in price from about 2.99/lb in the winter to about 99cents/lb in the summer because they're in season.
Hope this helps!
11-23-2009, 12:44 PM
Posting a separate post so this bumps up...
This article (http://www.idealbite.com/blog/top-10-ways-keep-your-produce-fresh) has tons of great ways to save money and extend the shelf life of your produce. Check it out!
11-23-2009, 02:54 PM
Those "green bags" work really nicely to keep veggies and fruits longer. I just found them in the Dollar Tree for $1 for 10 bags. So far, they seem to be working just as well as the more expensive ones.
Calculating the per-serving cost of fruits and veggies (it's tedious at first, but useful) helps you determine "real cost" versus "perceived cost." Some veggies have a lot of waste, and some have virtually none. Before discarding parts, consider whether they're edible (google for the answer, just confirm with several sources, and look for recipes).
Cabbage and cauliflower core - quite edible.
Pineapple core - sometimes (and the pineapple skin, NOT).
Beet and turnip tops/greens -very good.
I just learned today that carrot tops are edible. They can be mildly toxic, and I'm not sure what that means (gives you a bellyache if you eat too much, maybe? Or that they should be cooked? Not sure, I didn't do in-depth research) Rhubarb is considered mildly toxic (the leaves far more so) as well (but you'd have to eat a ton of the stems to get ill).
It pays to check out the ethnic and international groceries. BUT the prices can go both ways. Some overprice everything (these are the "touristy" shops catering to people who want exotics. The rationale for the higher prices, are the perceived difficulty in getting the specialty items). Some are inexpensive on everything, and most are mixed.
In our favorite asian grocery, I bought baby bok choy at about 1/5 the price it would be in the regular grocery (if it was available). I bought cilantro and beansprouts in bags that were 4 to 6 times larger - for the same price as the little bags in the regular grocery.
Awesome buys at asian groceries are vinegar (many varieties), salad oils (sometimes nut oils that would be very expensive in regular groceries, if they carried them), soy sauce, and fish sauce (fish sauce as an alternative for Worcesteshire sauce is awesome, especially when you want to use it as a flavor booster, and don't want to be able to identify worcesteshire as an ingredient).
I know that's not veggies, but when you find ways to save money on other staples, it frees up more money to spend a little more on those that never seem to be economical. I love exotic fruits, and wouldn't be able to buy them as often, if I couldn't squeeze money from the food budget in other areas.
I look at my exotic fruits the way I once did gourmet candies (after my foodie hubby introduced me to really good chocolate). A treat, but one worth paying a little extra for (if there's extra in the budget for them).
04-10-2010, 04:17 PM
Sigh. I hear so many good things about Asian markets. Wish there was one near me!