If you’re trying to eat healthy on a budget, you need to know what are the cheapest vegetables. We’ll show you how to get the most nutrients for your food budget in this post.
Should you buy fresh or canned or frozen?
You will almost always pay more for fresh vegetables. Many people believe that fresh vegetables have more nutritional value than frozen or canned veggies, so they are often willing to pay the extra price.
However, studies have shown that frozen and canned produce “has a nutrient value that is often as good as, if not better than, that of fresh produce.” That means you can save money and still eat healthy by purchasing frozen and canned veggies!
Although fruits and vegetables start with more nutrients and vitamins when they’re freshly picked, these benefits degrade during the shipping and storage process. It takes a long time for the fresh produce to make it to your home.
Of course, canned and frozen veggies lose some of their nutritional value as well. This is especially true for water-soluble vitamins in canned goods. However, it has been shown that the nutrients tend to be more stable in canned and frozen veggies because they are protected from oxygen. Oxygen deteriorates the nutritional value of fresh veggies, according to reports in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
According to the New York Times, canned fruits and vegetables may be more nutritional than fresh ones!
The 5 Cheapest Fresh Veggies
There are many ways to evaluate how affordable fresh veggies are. You could look at the unit price or the price per pound of the actual vegetable, for example.
However, I think the best way to evaluate the cost of vegetables is by cost per edible cup equivalent. Some veggies have a lot of inedible parts or shrink when cooked, so this measurement shows how much you can expect to pay for a serving of that particular vegetable.
Thus, for this article, we will be evaluating price based on the cost per edible cup.
Potatoes generally cost around 20 cents per edible cup. That’s super cheap!
You can do all sorts of amazing things with potatoes! They are one of the most versatile ingredients. One of our favorite ways to eat potatoes is in a breakfast casserole!
Carrots are extremely nutrient-dense and cost very little. They also pack a ton of beta carotene. Just one cup of carrots provides 428% of your daily needs for vitamin A, which is important for eyesight and your immune system! They also have high fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium and manganese content.
Cabbage is a leafy green that looks like lettuce but is often eaten cooked. It can be boiled, fried, or shredded into coleslaw. Cabbage is an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and more!
Lettuce is also fairly cheap if you buy a whole head of lettuce. If you buy it cut or shredded, it is significantly more expensive.
Generally, iceberg lettuce is cheaper than romaine. However, iceberg is also much less nutritious than romaine.
When you eat the peel, cucumbers are very nutritious and even relatively cheap! It’s also a very healthy snack. There are only 16 calories in a cup of cucumber!
Remember to stock up when it’s in season!
Fresh produce is always cheaper when it’s in season. Purchasing in the off-season means that grocery stores have to spend more money hauling the fresh produce to their store, and that means higher prices for the customers. Stock up on cheap vegetables when they’re in season to save money.
Love fresh produce? Try growing your own!
If you start a home garden, you may be able to avoid spending money on produce. If you have food stamps, you can even use your food stamps funds to purchase seeds and produce-bearing plants! Start with easy-to-grow, reliable veggies like peas, radishes and spinach.
The 5 Cheapest Frozen Veggies
If you don’t use vegetables often, you may benefit from buying them frozen so that you can use a little bit at a time without worrying about them rotting.
Mixed peas and carrots
According to the USDA, the cheapest frozen vegetables are mixed peas and carrots. These mixes generally cost around 40 cents per edible cup.
Carrots are an all-around cheap vegetable. They’ve made our list in every category: fresh, frozen and canned! However, the cheapest way to eat carrots is to eat them whole and raw. Fresh carrots are cheaper than frozen or canned. Frozen is the most expensive way to eat carrots.
If you like cauliflower but you want to save money, buy it frozen. According to the USDA’s chart, you can get almost twice as much cauliflower for your money if you purchase it frozen.
Potatoes are cheaper if you purchase them fresh. However, it is difficult to blanch and freeze potatoes properly so it’s generally best to buy them already frozen if you want to freeze them.
You’ll get almost twice as many green beans for your money if you buy them canned, but you can also buy them frozen for a reasonable price.
The 5 Cheapest Canned Veggies
Canned food is often the easiest to store, because you aren’t limited by the space in your freezer or by the longevity of fresh produce.
Green beans are cheapest when bought canned.
The cheapest way to eat carrots is whole and raw. However, canned carrots are your next best choice. Frozen is the most expensive way to buy them!
If you’re buying groceries on a budget, corn is best purchased canned. Fresh corn is more than four times as expensive as canned corn!
Tomatoes are a fruit according to science, but most nutritionists consider them a vegetable. That’s why I’ve included them in this list.
Green peas are usually slightly cheaper when purchased canned instead of frozen.