Vegetable prices ARE crazy high right now.
Aiming to eat at least 5 daily servings of vegetables and fruit all year long helps ensure we get the disease-fighting nutrients they offer. In cold and flu season (on now), this remains super important. Ideally, we eat more like 8 servings a day. So how do we cope when fresh cauliflower (and other vegetables) are so incredibly expensive?
I felt compelled to share a few tricks from our home. If you’re an adventurous cook and the kind of person who gets excited by creative, waste-reducing food ideas, you’ll love these. Note that 1 serving of vegetables equals 1 cup of fresh leafy greens or just half a cup of cooked vegetables…so it can be easier than it sounds to get in your 5-8 servings.
- Embrace cabbage. Even it is a bit pricier than normal right now, but you’ll get far more mileage from a head of cabbage than cauliflower yet it contains similar powerful nutrients. Using cabbage leaves, give these wraps a try. Just one wrap provides 2 servings of vegetables. (I used almonds in the recipe pictured here, but go with seeds for a less expensive option.)
- Make a large coleslaw using grated green or red cabbage, carrots, grated beets, green onion, sesame seeds or any ingredients you like. Use an oil-vinegar or Asian-style sesame dressing to keep it lighter than a traditional mayo dressing. If you like the creamy mayo-types, use some mayo mixed with plain yogurt and lemon juice to make it go further and lighten it up while still being tangy and delicious. Coleslaw stays fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days and is a great side to just about anything. It can also be the base of a meal when topped with a few chickpeas (canned chickpeas are super affordable) for added protein, chunks of canned salmon or protein of your choice.
- Saute cabbage as a base and add in all of those remaining veggies in the drawer in the fridge that you don’t quite have enough of for a dish full. Two diced carrots, those 8 remaining green beans, half a zucchini. This makes a colourful, attractive, tasty vegetable dish.
- Make a lazy cabbage roll casserole. Spare the work of rolling and instead make this lasagna-type dish using layers of cooked cabbage with rice, ground meat and canned diced tomatoes. A hearty serving makes a complete, balanced meal in itself.
- Eat Asian greens. For example, a large bag of bok choy is typically affordable and is a great alternative to broccoli in a stirfry while we wait for local, more affordable options to return as we get closer to spring and summer.
- Look for deals in the frozen aisle. If you have the freezer space, watch for sales on frozen Brussels sprouts, green peas or mixed vegetables. These are great served on their own and also work nicely in the idea in point #3 above.
- Although ‘clean eating’ is on our minds, this doesn’t mean every single item in the middle aisles of the grocery store is bad. Canned tomatoes are often on sale and make a great base for an Italian-esque saute of tomatoes, green beans and zucchini. Canned corn kernels combined with black beans, a vinaigrette and southwest seasonings makes a quick salad. Look for canned goods with a short ingredient list and still keep an eye on sodium levels here. Rinsed and drained canned legumes in general (aka pulses) are awesome to combine with vegetables to stretch them further while adding nutrients, fibre and protein!
- Get creative with carrots. Buy them in large quantities to reduce the unit cost. In addition to raw carrot sticks, grate them in coleslaws, leafy green salads, cut into coins and combine with frozen peas, use in curries, soups and stews.
- Save every single remnant of vegetables for soup. Celery is crazy expensive right now too. Before it goes limp, dice it and freeze. Do the same with leftover cooked veggies from meals. When you have a few bags of these frozen leftover veggies available, make a hearty vegetable soup.
- Potatoes and onions are vegetables too 🙂 and the affordable possibilities are endless. Soups, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, curries, potato salad, homemade french fries…
If you live where you have available garden space, start thinking about what you might be able to grow this spring and summer to later stock in your freezer for the winter. If fruit is on sale, for example oranges and apples, stock up. Fruit provides valuable nutrients to keep our immune system strong, especially if our vegetable intake temporarily drops a little. Avoid becoming a believer in the dangerous myth that healthy eating is WAY more expensive than a junk-based diet. The items in the list below remain affordable staples for a healthy diet and I’m up for a good argument on how affordable healthy eating can be – anytime!
12 Must-have Low-cost Healthy Staples: lentils, carrots, onions, apples, eggs, rice, yogurt, oatmeal, potatoes, canned beans, canned tuna, cabbage