Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Getting 5 Fruits and Veggies a day on a limited income

The biggest challenge for me, working with a limited income, is to get 5 fruits and veggies for each person in the family each day.  I have been accomplish this by doing the following:

For breakfast, we have only 4 oz. of orange juice to drink.  If I can find grapefruit at a good price, we each have half a grapefruit each instead of the orange juice.  If other citrus fruits are on sale, we substitute them for our orange juice. We usually have bananas as one of our regular fruits because they are less expensive and we can get riper bananas on sale sometimes for only 20 cents per pound.  We also cut bananas in half, since half a banana is a serving.

We each have a carrot for lunch every day.  This provides our dark orange vegetable and carrots don't cost too much.  I used to buy an apple a day for each of us during the school year, but apple prices have gone way up.  I may give us half an apple each day this year if I need to.  We have 2 apple tress that don't produce a lot of apples, but can provide enough to last through a month of lunches.  I also make applesauce if we have enough apples or if someone gives us some.  I will substitute applesauce for apples in lunches depending on the price of apples at the time.  Our neighbor also share some of her apples with us and they can last for a couple of weeks in lunches. 

For dinner, I try to serve a dark green veggie like broccoli, spinach or romaine lettuce.  We don't eat iceberg lettuce in our home. 

To make up for the other veggies or fruits in a day, I will buy only the veggies on a good sale unless I need certain produce for a recipe.  My husband likes onions and potatoes or we will buy tomatoes and avocado to go in a salad.  In the winter, butternut squash goes on sale for 39 cents per pound.  I will buy 20 pounds and freeze them in portions that provide one serving for each member of the family. 

I can't emphasize the value of a garden and fruit trees or bushes.  It saves tons of money when you grow your own produce.  Especially, when you freeze or can the extras to last through the winter.  We have had about 1 1/2 gallons of raspberries every couple of days for the past week or two.  We eat them fresh, freeze berries and also make raspberry jam.  We have been eating lettuce most every day from our garden.  Those two things alone provide 2/5 of our fruits and veggies for a day.  We also have a source for crab apples, since our tree is very young, and we make crab apple jelly and crab apple applesauce which everyone loves because it is so tart.  Here in Montana, the growing season is very short but we still can garden and get produce to eat and freeze.  We have grown carrots, green beans, peas, spinach, lettuce, onions, beets and squash even though we planted late.  Our winter squash rarely produces because when the snow is finally gone we plant late and don't have a green house.  People we know who have green houses also grow tomatoes, peppers and winter squash.  If you rent a house or don't have a backyard, look into container gardening. 

Most days we eat more than 5 fruits and vegetables, especially in the summer when there are so many more choices available. 

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