10 Most Budget-Friendly Fruits and Vegetables
Here's how to get the most bang for your buck in the produce aisle.
If you’re looking to up your fruit and vegetable intake and save money while doing it, there are a few things to consider. The first is buying in season, since produce that is grown seasonally (locally is a plus) tends to be cheaper because it doesn’t have to travel as far to get to your plate. Also look at the price per serving vs. the price of the entire food, since some fruits like melons are going to yield way more servings than an apple, for example.
Now before you go buying a bunch of budget-friendly fruits and vegetables, think about how long this produce is going to last in your kitchen. Are you going to be able to enjoy it before it goes bad? If not, buying frozen is a great option for saving money since produce gets frozen at the peak of freshness and lasts much longer than its fresh counterpart.
With those considerations in mind, here is a roundup of the cheapest fruits and vegetables!
Watermelon: Fruits that yield a large amount of servings tend to stretch the dollar and watermelon is the perfect example of that. An incredibly hydrating fruit perfect for the summer months, watermelon goes a long way and ranks as one of the top budget-friendly fruits. Slice one up for your next big gathering or chop, freeze and enjoy in smoothies and cocktails!
Bananas: Next up are bananas, which can easily be frozen for up to three months. Easily portable if you’re looking for some on-the-go fruit options, bananas have nutrients like potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium and vitamin C.
Cantaloupe: A juicy summer fruit similar to watermelon, cantaloupe feeds a crowd and provides important nutrients like vitamins A, C and potassium. Eating just one cup provides 100% of your vitamin C daily needs!
Apples: There are so many varieties of apples and the great thing is that they grow throughout different seasons in the year. Some varieties cost more than others, but overall, they’re a money saving fruit. If you’re struggling with food waste, the good news is apples last up to six weeks in the fridge!
Pears: Another fruit with a long shelf life, nutrient-dense pears pack fiber and vitamin C. Pears actually rank higher than most fruits when it comes to dietary fiber, with 21% daily value in just one pear.
Pulses: Beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils all fall within the pulses family, and are incredibly budget-friendly and nutritious. Eating pulses as part of a healthy diet helps to meet fiber and protein needs, while providing important minerals like calcium, potassium, folate, iron and magnesium.
Potatoes: An incredibly popular root vegetable, potatoes are packed with nutrition and last several months when stored properly. They are enjoyed as a carbohydrate, which when paired with protein and fibrous vegetables, makes for a balanced and satisfying meal.
Carrots: Affordable and accessible year round, carrots are packed with vitamin A and antioxidants like anthocyanin and lycopene. It’s the sixth most consumed vegetable in the United States, and goes great in salads, soups, stews, and cake (my favorite).
Green cabbage: This cruciferous vegetable is packed with vitamin C and K and provides a variety of health benefits. Pickling, roasting or grilling are all great ways to make this veg more exciting!
Cucumbers: Technically a fruit but enjoyed as a vegetable, cucumbers are incredibly hydrating since they’re mostly made up of water. Usually consumed raw, cucumbers make for a great salad or snack. They can also be quickly stir-fried if you’re looking to switch things up.
As a registered dietitian/nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator, Wendy Lopez, MS, RDN, CDCES is passionate about accessible and culturally relevant nutrition education. She is the co-host of the Food Heaven Podcast, and the co-founder of Food Heaven, an online platform that provides resources on cooking, intuitive eating, wellness and inclusion. When not working on creative projects, Wendy also provides nutritional counseling and medication management to patients with diabetes.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.