I often get told that having 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day is not possible. I also get told that achieving 5 a day is expensive and out of reach for some people. This blog article seeks to talk about how I think that the majority of people can achieve the 5 a day target. I recognise that it is still very challenging on a very tight budget where getting enough calories in is not possible.
Throughout this article I have looked at prices per portion. I have tried to include a variety of options to suit people’s tastes. I have tried not just to choose the cheapest options, because I always find that annoying when someone takes away my choice. I have also included a variety of protein because lots of cheap meals miss this out as it is the most expensive component usually.
It is important to continue to have a good balance of wholegrain starchy carbohydrates and quality proteins – notice low cost eating doesn’t have to mean processed meat.
Firstly and most importantly, start with breakfast. If you don’t, squeezing 5 portions into 2 meals is quite a challenge.
Cheap options for breakfast:
- porridge oats (either cooked as standard hot porridge or soaked overnight in low fat yoghurt) or Weetabix topped with a banana (25p) or apple (30p) or 80g tinned peaches (12p value brand in juice drained – save the juice for the next day and have as your juice portion). Serve with juice (10p a glass) for an added portion – make sure it is a different fruit from the ones you are putting on your cereal. Totals between 33p-55p depending on type of fruit and whether you use milk or yoghurt with your porridge oats.
- Egg on wholegrain toast with a grilled tomato (10p) and a 150ml glass of juice (value brand – 10p a glass) = total less than 50p.
Then comes lunch:
- Wholegrain couscous made with reduced salt stock powder with 80g frozen peas (10p) and a large tomato chopped (10p). Served with 30g cheese cubes (20p) = total approximately 50p
- Wholegrain bread with tinned sardines (drained) served with 80g carrot batons (5p) and 2 kiwi fruits (20p) = total approximately 75p. (alternatively have homous in the sandwich to reduce the cost to 50p)
And to top it off…dinner or tea:
- Basic frozen white fish served with potatoes, broccoli (15p) and cooked beetroot (25p) or sweetheart cabbage 13p) – total approximately £1.20
- Value tuna, 80g sweetcorn (11p) pasta served with 80g frozen cauliflower (13p) – total 93p
- Lentil bolognese with 80g carrots per portion (5p) served with frozen green beans (10p) -total approximately £1
- Jacket potato with half a tin of baked beans (16p) and grilled mushrooms (20p) – total 56p
If you are a pudding person, why not have a portion of fruit with some yoghurt for pudding or make a simple rice pudding and add frozen summer fruits instead of cane sugar or honey.
Snacks can also be a great way of including fruit and vegetables in our day too so if you would rather not have 2 at each meal then snacks are an alternative option.
Note these are just ideas and give you the costs of the vegetables to help show the variety. There are loads of other vegetables to try too. These meal ideas are not a meal plan for optimum nutrition, they are ideas to help you increase your fruit and vegetable intake.