Jess Parsons

Jess Parsons

Posted September 2, 2011

Published in Food

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Fruits and Vegetables - How Expensive is too Expensive?

Read More: compost, cost of food, garden, healthy food, money, potatoes, soup, Vegan Recipes, vegetable, waste

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This New Zealand article shows that food prices only keep going up - "most of it down to the increasing cost of vegetables" at 15.9%.

Crops are being damaged by extreme weather.  Climate change is already biting us where it hurts.

So should we sing another chorus of

It's too expensive to eat healthy?

The real cost of eating

Remember this other New Zealand study that warned us about spending and health?  So we know to look at the whole picture.

Statistics NZ says:

Food spend $100
Vegetables $ 14
Meat and poultry $ 16
Takeaways and eating out $ 21
Other groceries $ 38
Non-alcoholic beverages $ 11

I wonder what the alcoholic beverages total is?

We're spending far more on less healthy, unnecessary foods and on convenience than on fresh vegetables.  Even if they jumped 50% in price, they would still not be the heaviest burden on your wallet.

In fact, your health can't afford you to economise on vegetables and fruit. 

For true balance in your diet, health and budget, try balancing your spending toward that colourful produce section.

Saving more money

I'm a great fan of saving money. So when those rising produce prices pinch, pick and choose from the tips you like.

Buy more

I have been buying 10kg of unwashed potatoes and spending the same as for 5kg of cleaner ones.  A whole cabbage is incredibly good value; it's huge and lasts for weeks in the refrigerator. 

There is a reason that historically, people eat a lot of potatoes and cabbage in hard times.  If you're a bit more fortunate, you can make your frugal potatoes and cabbage taste really good too.

Buy what you use

If your veggie bin often looks like a compost bin, be less eager when bagging up the bargains.  Then learn to...

Use what you buy

When you buy bargains, plan how and when you will eat them.  When I buy that big bag of potatoes, I know I need to serve a potato meal every week.  I also know that older potatoes still make good mashed potatoes.

You won't eat that enormous cabbage boiled: find some tasty recipes for coleslaw and stirfry.

Learn all the veggie bits you can use - if you only eat the broccoli and cauliflower florets, you're missing out on about half the vegetable you paid for.  Peel the stems and enjoy a mild crispy crunchy raw treat.

Old stems can also be saved, peeled and grated into a hearty soup, along with any other vegetables that are past their best and even fridge leftovers. Soup is easy and doesn't really need a recipe, but there are plenty out there for inspiration.  


Some vegetables and fruits you have never tried are not only delicious but cheaper than your familiar staples.  You are allowed to buy bok choy fresh as well as enjoying it in oily Chinese takeaway food.

Buy in season

How do you know if it's in season?  Usually, the price.  This is another great time to experiment.  For half of the year, lettuce is cheap, and the other half, celery.  Shred either one and get a crunchy sandwich or salad ingredient.  (For extra homework, look up which vegetable grows best in which season.)

More Smart Shopping Tips 


And of course, if you have the urge, you can grow your own vegetables.  This isn't certain to be better value than commercially grown vegetables, but they will taste better and you will learn a valuable skill.

The Last Word

If you still feel edgy about the cost of fruits and vegies, just remember how much doctors cost.