We all know that healthy eating includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. But did you know you can do it AND stay on budget? Here are a couple tips to accomplish your health and budget goals.
- Plan your meals for the week and then prep them ~ you are more likely to follow your plan when you have reduced the daily preparation time
- Shop for seasonal produce ~ the prices are lower when an item is in season
- Review the sales section in your local newspaper for grocery store ads and shop the produce on sale
- Start a garden ~ you can easily grow some of your produce for your weekly meal plan
Let’s take a closer look at that last idea. Many vegetables for a simple salad are easy to grow in a small amount of land or in pots on a balcony.
Lettuce is not only the base for many salads, it grows quickly and can be harvested easily. You can simply snip the tops of the plants or pick leaves as needed. Lettuce takes up very little space. It can even be grown in containers, perhaps accompanied by flowers or tucked under taller plants. You can even plant the seeds in partly shady areas.
Tomatoes are, possibly, the most popular vegetable for any size garden. You can grow tomatoes in hanging baskets or other containers as long as they get lots of sun and have support for their stalks. Starter plants from a garden center, your local hardware store or a nursery are the easiest to grow. I even saw some on my latest trip to the grocery store. You can get both tomatoes and tomato plants at Whole Foods, who knew?
Pro tip ~ If you plant basil next to the tomato plants, you’ll naturally repel pests and even improve the flavor of the tomatoes—and, luckily enough, like other herbs, basil is simple to grow as well. On top of that, herbs will increase the flavor in your salad. And when your salad is full of flavor you will enjoy it even more. You will then want to eat more salads, so this is a bonus no matter how you chop it!
I love the crunch of cucumbers in a salad. Cucumbers like sunlight and warm temperatures, as well as support for climbing. Thanks to their vertical growth, cucumbers do well in containers and with a little water they grow almost like weeds. You’ll probably have enough cucumbers to donate to your neighbors.
Radishes are a nice addition to a salad. But you can also enjoy them as appetizers, snacks and side dishes. Even though not everyone loves them, once you see how easy they are to grow, you might add them to your garden. They take just 20 days to reach full size!
Other Easily Grown Vegetables
Carrots are pretty easy to grow. The only thing about carrots is they might not grow very large, especially if you have rocky soil. Deep, well-drained soil is preferable—a raised bed is a good idea. Nevertheless, carrots are simple and fun to grow (your kids might even want to help). They tolerate light shade too, although, like most plants, they prefer full sun.
All sorts of green beans, from snap beans (or string beans) to shell or whole beans are ideal for home gardens. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, and snapping beans to harvest them is kind of entertaining. I’ve had better luck with the vine type compared to the self-support bush types of snap peas, but the bush types require less space. Both types grow easily from seeds. Most beans prefer full sun and well-drained soil.
Like beans and cucumbers, zucchini plants are prolific, whether they are grown in containers or directly in mounded soil. Like beans and radishes, they grow easily from seeds. They need good moisture, though, and prefer warm soil, so it’s best to sow seeds later in the warm season (a good plant for gardening procrastinators!).
Pumpkins are relatively easy to grow and are great to have around during the autumn season. As you probably know from baking and carving, there are different types of pumpkins and some are simpler to grow than others.
Now you have some easy to grow vegetables to assist with your healthy eating on a budget journey. And, remember if you have children they can help in the garden and that can promote healthy eating as well.