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Produce Deals: Researchers Have Good News for Bargain Shoppers

About 20 percent of the average American’s annual grocery bill goes toward fresh vegetables and fruit, according to The Food Institute’s Demographics of Consumer Food Spending.

And, for good reason. The federal government’s MyPlate, a reminder for healthy eating, recommends we eat as much as two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables a day. Doctors encourage a diet full of nutrient dense leafy greens and crunchy apples to ward off everything from cancer to heart disease and high blood pressure.

But buying heads of fresh broccoli, mounds of spinach and pints of blueberries can add up, especially when compared to their frozen versions.

Consider this:

  • With fresh broccoli, at about $2 a pound, you’ll get about two servings minus the stem and other pieces you’ll need to trim off. For about $1.25, you can pick up a 14-ounce bag of frozen broccoli that serves five people.
  • A 10-ounce bag of fresh spinach will serve about three people for around $3. You can pick up a 10-ounce bag of frozen spinach for just $1.
  • A pint of fresh blueberries -- about four servings -- sets you back as much as $4. Frozen blueberries, however, can be purchased for $1 to $2 per pound, especially if you pay close attention to sales.

And, here’s the good news for bargain shoppers: You’re not skimping on the health benefits of these foods if you choose to cut costs by taking home those frozen varieties instead of the fresh ones.

In fact, a 2015 study at the University of California, Davis, found that, overall, the vitamin content in frozen versions of the eight fruits and vegetables researchers studied -- corn, carrots, broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans, strawberries and blueberries -- were about the same and sometimes higher than their fresh versions.

Canned fruits and vegetables, studies show, also can provide similar nutritional benefits at a lower cost than the fresh versions.

But shoppers should beware of the high levels of sodium or sugar lurking inside some of those cans. Look for canned vegetables with no salt added and canned fruit that’s not swimming in sticky syrup. The same goes for frozen produce with added sauces. Steer clear and stick to bags with just the veggies.

Buying shelf stable or frozen fruits and vegetables also can help cut down on food waste, another money-saving bonus.

Consumers in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand eat only 48 percent of the fruits and vegetables produced. The rest is wasted, according to the National Resource Defense Council. More canned and frozen produce in your pantry and freezer means less wilted lettuce and fuzzy strawberries left forgotten in the back of your refrigerator.

So start stalking the canned and frozen aisles for those money-saving deals -- and stock up on healthy vegetables and fruits.

The CESI Team is committed to helping you reach your financial goals. If debt keeps you from living the life you dream of, contact us for a free debt analysis today and get started on the road to a brighter future!

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