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7 Fresh Fruits & Vegetables for Pennies

Focused on Health - April 2012

by Adelina Espat

Are fresh fruits and vegetables too pricey for your budget? Well, when you break it down to cents, stocking up on these foods makes a lot of sense!

fruits vegetablesA tasty variety of springtime fruits and vegetables is now in season. And, buying what’s in season is sure to be a cheaper and healthier choice.   

Even better, eating a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans can lower your chances of cancer.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite seasonal fruits and vegetables. We’ve also included the cost per serving, based on price listings from the United States Department of Agriculture. Remember, prices may vary depending on where you live.

1.  Oranges (navel): $0.34 per serving

  • Health perks: This juicy fruit packs in a powerful dose of vitamin C and dietary fiber. And, plant-based foods high in fiber may reduce your risk for cancer. 
  • Fresh check: Choose firm, smooth-skinned oranges.
  • Serving size: one medium orange
  • Calories per serving: 62
  • Price: $0.57 average price per pound (2 – 3 oranges)

2.  Strawberries: $0.89 per serving

  • Health perks: Strawberries are loaded with cancer-fighting nutrients that protect your body from breast, skin and lung cancers.
  • Fresh check: The freshest strawberries are bright red, shiny and firm. Stay away from strawberries that are shriveled, mushy or leaky.
  • Serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories per serving: 46
  • Price: $2.28 average price per pound (3 ½ cups of whole strawberries)

fresh fruits3.  Pineapple (whole): $0.70 per serving

  • Health perks: This sweet treat is low in sodium and high in vitamin C. And, it’s perfect as a fat-free desert option that’s sure to please any sweet tooth.   
  • Fresh check: Don’t pick a pineapple that has soft or dark spots and dry-looking leaves.
  • Serving size: 1 cup of diced pineapple
  • Calories per serving: 78
  • Price: $1.04 average price per pound (small to medium sized pineapple weighs about 2 pounds). You should get about 3 cups of diced pineapple.

4.  Honeydew (whole): $0.45 per serving

  • Health perks: Honeydew melons are low in sodium and high in vitamin C.
  • Fresh check: Look for melons that have a nice, nearly spherical shape. The best melons usually have a heavy feel.
  • Serving size: 1 wedge (1/8 of melon)
  • Calories per serving: 45
  • Price: $0.55 average price per pound (honeydew melons weigh about 6 pounds)

5.  Spinach: $0.52 per serving (raw)

  • Health perks: Spring is the season of greens. And, spinach is full of green goodness. Eating spinach powers you up on fiber, folate and antioxidants that prevent cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx.
  • Fresh check: Opt for fresh, crisp, green bunches. Watch out for leaves that have insect damage.
  • Serving size: 1 cup raw
  • Calories per serving: 7
  • Price: $2.94 average price per 12-ounce bag (about 5 cups)

health vegetables6.  Mustard Greens: $0.81 per serving (cooked)

  • Health perks: If you’re not a big fan of spinach, try mustard greens. They’re packed with the same cancer-fighting power.
  • Fresh check: Choose leaves that aren’t yellow or withering. And, the stems should be freshly cut and not dark or dried out.
  • Serving size: 1 cup cooked
  • Calories per serving: 21 (cooked with no salt or fat added)
  • Price: $4.38 average price per 32-ounce bag (about 10 cups)

7.  Broccoli (fresh): $0.63 per serving

  • Health perks: Broccoli is the most popular member of the cruciferous family. It’s a mighty green, boasting huge quantities of folate, fiber and antioxidants that defend the body from colorectal cancer.
  • Fresh check: Sniff out the best broccoli. Choose odorless bunches with tight, bluish-green florets.
  • Serving size: 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • Calories per serving: 30 (cooked)
  • Price: $1.84 average price per pound (about 4 cups chopped broccoli)

Where to find the freshest spring produce?

Most cities now have farmers markets that offer foods fresh from the farm. Weekly trips to a farmers market provide not only great fresh produce, but an inexpensive and educational family outing. Search your city's Visitors Bureau site for a possible list of local farmers markets.

What’s your favorite springtime fruit or vegetable? Visit our Facebook page and tell us. We’d love to hear from you.

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center