“Yay!! Honey Crisp!” I thought to myself, selecting two apples from the display at the grocery store. But when I checked out, my joy in finding one of my favorite fruits out-of-season was short-lived — the apples rang up at $8.53!! I sheepishly handed them back to the cashier and asked her to take them off my bill.
It never occurred to me that a couple of apples could cost so much. After all, I wasn’t buying organic nor was I in a high-priced, gourmet grocery store. When I returned the apples, commenting that I wasn’t willing to pay that much, the checker said, “Yeah, I hear that a lot now that winter’s here.”
Packed with vitamins and minerals, fruit is a wonderful addition to our diets. The fructose naturally found in fruit adds a bit of sweetness to meals and when we eat the whole fruit instead of opting for juices or peeled fruit, we get healthy fiber as well. But, during the winter months, some fruits can be downright pricey, making it more challenging to keep fruit in our diets year-round.
Here are a few budget-friendly approaches to use:
Focus on Frozen: Bags of frozen strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries are reasonably priced, there’s no waste, and berries are especially rich in fiber. Of course, they taste great blended into smoothies, but gently thawed in the microwave, frozen berries also make a wonderful addition to plain yogurt, a hearty bowl of oatmeal, muffins or pancake batter.
Try Dried: Dried fruits like prunes, apricots, mangoes, and cherries are tasty eaten out of hand. You can also use them as part of a hearty beef stew, stuffed into a succulent pork roast or in this recipe for Chicken Marbella.
Shop the Season: Choose fresh fruits that are at their peak during the winter such as oranges, grapefruit, kiwis, clementines, pears, tangerines, pomegranates and bananas. Most of these are great additions to a lunch box, but also consider serving a seasonal fruit salad with dinner to brighten a wintry evening. Or, try a simple Ambrosia for dessert by topping sectioned navel oranges with a sprinkle of shredded coconut.
Ellen Stokes, MS, RD, LD is an award-winning video producer, director, and writer in addition to being a registered dietitian. Ellen writes and creates videos about nutrition education, food safety, menu planning, grocery shopping, and healthful cooking on a budget. Ellen has worked with organizations and companies including WebMD, the Partnership for Food Safety Education, and the University of Georgia Food Science Department. Ellen formerly worked for CNN as a writer and producer and teaches food safety and nutrition for Georgia State University. Check her out on Twitter @EllenS_RD.