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20+ long lasting fruits & vegetables to help you save money

Since your brain injury have you had a lot of fresh food go bad?

Maybe you went to the grocery store on a day you felt good. You bought a lot of fresh ingredients and you were so excited about the meals you were going to make with them!

But then, when you got back home, your brain was overstimulated. You eventually put the produce away but didn’t have the energy the rest of the week to prepare them.

One, two, or even three weeks later you’re frustrated to be throwing out all that spoiled food…

If this scenario sounds familiar let me validate for you that many people with brain injury experience the same!

I know during my own recovery with persistent concussion symptoms this happened more than I’d like to admit.

Not only was it frustrating that I couldn’t prepare and eat the fresh foods I had purchased, but it was extra painful feeling like I had wasted so much money.

How to eat healthy on a budget is a question I get fairly often.

And it’s a tough one.

Because all the regular tips for making the most with your money when it comes to food involve more planning, shopping around, price matching, coupons, buying the reduced price foods that need to be eaten right away, as well as making some base ingredients like broth & sauces on your own… 

All of these things require a lot more time, energy, and cognitive ability — things that are a struggle in TBI!

I already wrote one article called 6 foods that are good for your brain, and your bank account.” But I got another request to explore this topic further, so I thought I would offer another way to look at budget nutrition.

Because when it comes to the cost of food, there’s only so much that we can do as consumers.

Yes, the prices at the grocery are going up! The pandemic has caused a supply chain fatigue. Unfortunately I can’t say your shopping habits alone would change or counteract this.

I know that may sound rather dooming but basically, to put this topic into context, what I’m trying to say is this:

If you’re having a hard time affording healthy food, it’s not your fault!!!

There’s no shame in struggling with grocery bills. There are larger complex systems that are making food less affordable. Everyone deserves better access to the food that supports health & wellbeing.

So even though your individual food choices might not change the overall affordability of a healthy diet, we still need to find ways to survive in these financially strained times.

And that’s what I’m here to help you with 🙂

Let’s take a look at some health-promoting produce that will last you longer, reducing food waste and giving you more bang for your buck:

#1 Start with your roots!

Root vegetables are the underground parts of the plants we eat. They contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants and potassium.

These can last weeks upon purchase, so consider any of the following for your next grocery list:

  • Carrots
  • Potatoes & yams
  • Rutabaga
  • Beets
  • Onions & leeks
  • Turnip
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Daikon

#2 Add a little green

You might think of lettuce and spinach when it comes to green leafy vegetables, but these might barely last the week!

There are other options that are much more shelf-stable. Here are some ideas:

  • Cabbage
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Kale (and arugula can hold out for about a week I find)
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower (there’s a green variety! But the regular white is a great option)

Cabbages come in different varieties and you can even get some purple cabbage to jazz up your plate! One cabbage seems to last me forever. It’s easily thrown into salads, soups or stir fries.

 #3 Don’t be afraid to squash

Winter squash are things like pumpkin, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, acorn squash…

These may seem very high maintenance at first glance. They are after all a little hard to chop open due to their thick skin. However, they are very simple to prepare slicing them in half, removing the guts, sprinkling with some oil and herbs, and then roasting in the oven!

You can also roast the seeds for that extra bit of magnesium we know to be so important in brain injury.

#4 Tuitti Fruitti!

Fruits give you some much-needed energy as well as extra fiber, antioxidants, polyphenols… All the things that support your gut microbiota!

Here are some examples of fruits that may last you longer in the fridge:

  • Apples
  • Limes & lemons
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Grapefruit
  • Whole pomegranate (freeze the seeds)

#5 Do not fear the freeze

Lastly, if the fresh fruits and veg still seem like a risky purchase, go for the frozen options!

Contrary to popular belief, frozen fruit and veg are actually very nutrient dense! This is because they are often picked and frozen right away. This allows for retention of more nutrients then a food that has been picked early and travelled a great distance.

Frozen options can also be more budget friendly on top of lasting months in your freezer.

More options

The above is by no means an exhaustive list!

Check out these other resources for more ideas:

What works for you?

What foods do you find last you a long time in your kitchen or pantry?

What foods do you find are the best bang for your buck?

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments of this post 🙂

Best in brain health,

Krystal Merrells

Registered dietitian

Concussion warrior