How do you get enough fruits and veggies?

Our local CSA went out of business about a year ago.  That was great for getting more veggies in our diet because we’d get a box of mostly veggies that we would have to use up, so we’d plan recipes around what was in the box.

It’s harder to go the other direction.  We were brought up to plan meals around a meat, so when things get busy that’s the easiest thing to do.  We do pretty well on bananas and apples and whatever fruit is in season because those all make great snacks, but our veggie consumption is way down without the weekly box.

#2 has a subscription to Purple Carrot.  That’s really not a fit for our life since it’s optimized for 2 people and at $12/plate we could get pretty fancy take-out around here.

How do you get fruits and veggies into your diet?

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52 Responses to “How do you get enough fruits and veggies?”

  1. SP Says:

    As long as I’m not super busy, being intentional about it helps – meaning I look up veggie recipes and occasionally lurk veggie food blogs. During pregnancy I was having a green smoothie every morning to ensure I get some spinach/kale to start the day. I’m traveling for work for almost all of august and it isn’t possible to do this and I’m probably not getting quite enough. :/

  2. Mr. Millionaire Says:

    We both have fruit for breakfast (berries, banana) and for lunch (apples, peaches, etc.). We committed ourselves to have at least two vegetarian dinners each week. For non-vegetarian dinners, I plan the plate in thirds – one third protein, one third vegetable, and one third starch (mostly wild rice).

  3. DVStudent Says:

    My region of the country offers Imperfect Produce, where every two weeks, I get a box of not suitable for grocery store selling fruits and veggies (the issues are usually size, or surplus). The food has been fresh, and because it’s THERE, I end up cooking more veggies than planned. For me, it is cheaper than the grocery store, but I know that’s not the case for everyone.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Our area has programs to send the imperfect produce to the big central foodbank, but there aren’t resellers. I’m always a little bit jealous of the boxes the Frugal Girl gets, but I’m also glad that the food is still going to a good cause.

      It’s weird how I’m more likely to process a box of random stuff than carefully chosen things from the grocery store. Maybe I use up all the willpower for the week with shopping.

      • gwinne Says:

        I also miss having a CSA….I quit mine because even with a share partner it wasn’t working for us (too much in the way of greens, and I was still buying a lot of other produce for the kids).

        I wonder, though, if there’s something about that randomness for you, if it would work to just buy whatever produce is on sale, rather than planning ahead?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I think just buying what’s on sale wouldn’t work because we’d get the CSA and then we’d go grocery shopping after, which meant we could plan the grocery shopping around the CSA. I can’t see myself going back to circulars with menu planning. But maybe I should consider it…

        Blech, greens. (Though the book Greens, Glorious Greens did help.) Our first CSA here had so many turnip and mustard greens which just, ugh. But we had vegetarian and vegan people to give them to. (I don’t know who we would give them to now though.)

        CSAs are generally stressful when we have them and it’s a relief when they end, but then we start missing them. :(

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I remember why we stopped using the circulars– they never advertise their sales on organics, particularly organic produce.

  4. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  5. undine Says:

    Just cooking regular meals, I guess, since vegetables are the biggest part of them. And salads from Trader Joe’s.

  6. First Gen American Says:

    We have a garden but it’s hard to keep up with it sometimes but it does increase veggie intake. I still don’t get enough.

    I was thinking if I banned bread and cheese from my life, I would eat a lot healthier. It is just too easy to snack on those things. I was thinking of doing one vegan night a week to start.

    Then I tried to do a vegetable at every meal but the definition of a veggie is sometimes a little loose. We do ok with that but some days i am tired and we do black bean quesadillas and guacamole. Bread and cheese. Bread and cheese. Salsa is a vegetable right? If I were a good mom, I’d do a healthy Mexican bowl instead.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I foolishly thought we’d have a great garden out here, but gardening in the South is not for the faint of heart. (We have herbs and a few tomatoes each year, but it gets hot and the soil is bad and there is so much wildlife…) Salsa is definitely a vegetable, and one of the few ways my kids will eat tomatoes! Bread is so good in New England.

      Vegan night seems like something that would force more veggies. One would hope anyway!

      • Debbie M Says:

        Where I live it is hot and dry with clay soil. All kinds of peppers grow very well here (good dipped in hummus). Lettuces have to be grown in the late fall. I don’t know how well those mix with your local wildlife.

  7. Leigh Says:

    We do eat vegetables with most dinners these days. I also try to have a strawberry banana smoothie most days, which is helpful.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      What kinds of veggies? How do you decide on them for dinner?

      • Leigh Says:

        We mostly eat carrots. My family only ate green beans and carrots growing up and I’ve kept to much of their picky eating habits despite moving to a City. My husband also eats broccoli sometimes. And we occasionally eat kale. We find when we try to eat too much variety of vegetables, some invariably go bad before we eat them.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        If it were just DH and me we’d find it really easy to eat tomatoes and onions with every meal, but the kids refuse tomatoes and are unpredictable with respect to onions. If it were up to them, we’d have frozen peas all the time.

      • Leigh Says:

        I don’t like tomatoes either! But we do make a fresh tomato sauce for pasta relatively regularly, which is tasty. We learned in Italy that the key to a good tomato sauce is fresh tomatoes!

  8. Susan Says:

    I too did much better when I had a CDs basket. For me it was the pressure – you must eat all this because in 3 days you are getting more. Aaaaah!!

    Things that help me eat more veggies: buy a big box of prewashed lettuce mix and eat a large salad everyday w my lunch (2 handfuls of greens, a few walnuts, cranberries and dressing), a green smoothie – my kids love these. I recently switched from milk to orange juice and the taste and texture are so much better. My kids love broccoli – we have a microwaved bag of broccoli any least once a week. My kids eat a ton of this. Also cutting up stuff right away helps. I also will do a sheet pan dinner – my basic formula is slice green veggie, something colorful/flavorful, and protein. Tonight was zucchini, red bell pepper, onion and Italian sausage. Bake at 400 for 20 min. Done.

  9. bogart Says:

    Um, as usual,.satisficing. I try to keep frozen broccoli, spinach, and brussel sprouts on hand, also cans of black beans, green beans, green peas, corn, and baked beans. I’ll also get green beans fresh at the store, keep carrots handy, and we’re eating a lot of corn on the cob at present because it’s in season, fresh, and delicious. Oh, and easy. I’ll microwave pretty much all of that, slap a bit of butter on top, and … good to go (not all, carrots are raw or go with sliced dried ginger, some water, and a.sprinkle of.cinnamon,.nutmeg, and brown sugar in the instant pot, brussel sprouts go in the instant pot frozen with 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar. So yummy and so easy. And cheap! DH and DS won’t eat all these things (I’m the only fan of the sprouts…), so for meals I prep for all of us I try to include those they will. And I certainly sometimes substitute a fruit for veggies.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Frozen seems pretty safe so long as I remember to use them.

      How do you microwave the veggies? Like, with water in a casserole dish or can they just go in straight?

      • bogart Says:

        For microwaving frozen, I just stick the veggies in a pyrex dish of suitable size and microwave uncovered until hot (usually a minute or two at a time, stir, add time if needed), then I usually stick a pat of butter on the top and stir a bit. The frozen-ness seems to mean that they are wet enough not to need added moisture. If I’m feeling glam I throw in fennel seeds or similar. It really could not be simpler. They’re not wildly exciting, but they’re good.

      • bogart Says:

        Also … frozen is frighteningly easy, and affordable. Just buy a few bags of veggies and try some approaches, and see what works for you. Really, I am mystified that more people don’t use these more. I mean … buy fresh broccoli in your grocery store (or CSA, or wherever), and bring it home, and rinse it, and chop it into appropriate sized bits (shaving off the browned parts if it’s been sitting in the fridge a few days), and cook it (however), ***or***, buy a bag of frozen broccoli, store in freezer, pull out, slice open, take out however many chunks are required, stick in pyrex, microwave for a minute or a few (closing remains, still frozen, back in bag, twist, seal with twist-tie, toss back in freezer for whenever you need them next), add pat of butter, done.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Pre-CSA we always had a bag of mixed pea/carrot/corn, a bag of peas, and a bag of “oriental vegetables” for stirfry in the freezer. Now we always have peas (and apparently something like 5 bags of frozen green beans because I’m still in the habit of getting them at TJ’s but seemingly not in the habit of actually cooking them). We don’t have more of the mixed veggies because our local grocery doesn’t have them in organic, only conventional, and we use them up pretty quickly when we get them at TJ’s. Maybe I should buy more bags next time we’re in the city. (And no green beans!)

      • Debbie M Says:

        Frozen fruit is good too–I once liked a recipe for fruit salad made of canned peach pie filling, various frozen fruits (like a berry mix, I think), and sliced bananas. I like Trader Joe’s frozen wild blueberries for pancakes and muffins because they are smaller and neater than regular giant blueberries. For raspberry sauce (say, for flourless chocolate cake), you do not need to stew raspberries and add sugar or whatever; you can just stick them in the blender with a little water or grape juice and it’s already delicious.

        And if any frozen fruit gets a bit freezer burned, throw them in your smoothies.

  10. yetanotherpfblog Says:

    Pay yourself first in vegetables. CSA box is the way I mostly do it, but on weeks I grocery shop I start with a vegetable list that’s comparable in size to my CSA and then round that out with limited meat (1 lb/wk), dairy, and grains as needed.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      When we get fewer veggies from the grocery store than we would in a CSA we often won’t use them right away and they seem more likely to go bad. I’m not sure what the difference is other than the sense of urgency we get from using up the CSA before we get another one. Maybe we should make Sunday veggie prep day or something.

  11. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    I live in the area where most of the brussel sprouts and artichokes in the US come from—also a lot of the berries and salad greens. So the local farmer’s market and grocery stores provide fresh produce pretty much year-round. The dry-farmed tomatoes from the local farms are better than anything we can grow ourselves (our ground is too wet and we don’t get enough sun for the maximum flavor). My wife goes to the farmer’s market once a week, and picks up fruits and vegetables on two or three other trips (such as the UCSC farmstand on Fridays during the summer), so we nearly always have vegetables that are within a couple of days of having been picked. (Exceptions are apples and bananas—the apples are stored in cold storage outside the rather short harvest season and bananas don’t grow locally.) This summer we are eating vegetarian, because our son is home from college.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Getting someone else to take care of all our meals would be a solution to this problem… I guess technically that’s what the shu box does with her housekeeper/nanny combination.

      • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

        Yes, I am very fortunate that my wife’s job has shorter hours than mine and that she likes to cook. If she were working full-time, we would eat out a lot more often. She currently cooks 6 meals a week, we eat out once a week, and we’re on our own for breakfast and lunch.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Wait… your wife works AND does all the housework? Are you absolutely sure this is by her choice and not what she’s come to accept as her lot because that’s how it is for her generation? Your son being home and not cooking is going to be a liability for him in the current generation. If you do decide to cook dinner, make sure you clean the kitchen afterwards.

      • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

        So far the balance of who does what has been working for us. We do discuss changing the division of labor every year or two—I’d be willing to cook more if she wanted me to, eat out more often, and do more of the grocery shopping.

        My wife works half time and does the cooking for 6 nights a week. I work full time and rarely cook. I do most of the maintenance (lightbulb replacement, cleaning the gutters, mowing the lawn, taking out trash, pruning the trees and bushes in the front yard, minor repairs, …). We share the other housework more or less equally (though that often means that neither of us gets around to tidying the house or gardening).

        My wife also does most of the grocery shopping, though I get heavier items once a week, and every month or two get large bags of cat litter and cat food, since I have a bicycle with trailer, but she shops with just a backpack. We have “gift cards” for the grocery store that we use most often (to provide 5% donations to the school our son attended—based on the amount we spend on refilling the cards, I do about 1/4 of the grocery shopping.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        As long as you discuss it and don’t force her to ask. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/26/gender-wars-household-chores-comic

        And your son is getting the tools that he needs so that some poor significant other doesn’t have to take on all of the labor of either training him or waiting on him. https://thebaffler.com/latest/the-queer-art-of-failing-better-penny

  12. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    We rotate usual suspects that everyone is ok with: broccoli, spinach (meh), green beans (usually frozen), some zucchini. JB and I can eat a whole head of butter lettuce by ourselves, and we all enjoy beets with our salads but I dislike making salads at home. PiC particularly enjoys a roasted veggie tray I do (potatoes, onions, bell peppers or cauliflower or broccoli) so I make that once every week or two.

    I was contemplating a veggie prep day once a week to make it easier for me to do veggies every day because by the time I’m done with the meat and starch I don’t have much energy or brain left for the side. I do better if I can incorporate veggies in with the main event, like with soups and stews or curries so I did a curry this week. I add veggies to pasta sauces wherever possible and lots of zucchini in baked goods because I don’t like eating zucchini – they cross over from being roasted perfectly to being too soft in a matter of seconds.

    None of us usually like cooked carrots but JB asked for them recently so I obliged. Ze asks for fruit for dessert every night, we eat our baked desserts as snacks rather than a meal ending dessert which I pretend is a healthy habit (plus the sneaky veggies figure in there).

    I started doing Imperfect Product every two weeks on the assumption that we could fill in the gaps every two weeks at Sprouts but my box went missing this week …!

  13. First Gen American Says:

    More on this as I realize I didn’t leave specifics. We have a stovetop steamer. We steam all our non starchy veggies..corn, , edamame, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots. green beans. asparagus. I like the flavor of roasted better, but it’s just much more cleanup. I hate scrubbing sheetpans. I bought sheetpan liners for things I have to roast like potatoes. Husband has a weird onion allergy so we eat a lot less of onion and garlic these days. Kids will eat spinach raw in a salad but not cooked unless it’s hidden in ravioli or lasagna. When we are lazy we make salad before dinner.

    I microwave potatoes, squash and sweat potatoes part way before I roast them. It speeds up the cooking process and it makes a soft inside and crisp outside.

    I could do a lot more with soups, but pretty much the only soups the kids eat right now is grandmom’s chicken and split pea with ham. Lentil is good but I have a hard time getting people to eat it for more than one meal in a row.

    Hummus with carrots and celery
    Avocados once a week for Mexican night
    On pizza night, we always make one veggie pizza and kids have to eat a veggie slice before they can eat their favorite flavor.

  14. Matthew Healy Says:

    We just moved back to the Midwest, not far from my birthplace, after many years in the Northeast. Just up the street from our new home is a wonderful co-op with lots of fresh local produce, and my drive home went from 40 minutes on a good day to 17 minutes on a bad day. I stop at the co-op several days a week. We’re eating lots more fresh food. Like heirloom tomatoes. And, of course, corn.

    In winter of course we’ll again be limited to produce that’s come a long way from warmer climes.

  15. PS Says:

    I’ve read that fruits are pretty much irrelevant nutritionally, as long as you’re getting a variety of vegetables, so I focus on that. I generally skip “starch” as part of my meal planning, since I snack enough on carb-y things. I’ll pretty often eat half of pound of broccoli and a piece of chicken for dinner, for example. For fresh veggies I try to meal plan carefully before buying, but also accept that, cooking for one, some will probably go to waste. At least I compost! I also try to buy vegetables that can be eaten both raw (as snacks) and cooked (as meals) to increase the odds that I’ll eat all of them before they turn–zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash, grape tomatoes (technically a fruit…), carrots, red bell peppers.

    Honestly, I mostly just eat an excessive amount of broccoli. Like 2-3 pounds a week, and I am just one person. It roasts beautifully straight from frozen, and can be dressed up with red pepper flakes, lemon juice, cayenne, cumin, etc, etc, etc. Frozen broccoli is a miracle food.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      My mom used to be crazy about broccoli like that. She still likes it but no longer eats some every day like she used to.

    • Matthew Healy Says:

      I like frozen broccoli OK but freezing brings out the sulfur-containing amino acids to a degree that my wife finds distasteful. She wants her broccoli fresh and steamed for just a few minutes.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I wonder if that’s why I only liked broccoli raw as a kid.

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        That could well be why you didn’t like overcooked broccoli as a kid: children can have much more sensitive taste receptors than adults. For which they are sometimes unfairly labeled “picky.”

  16. eemusings Says:

    I can tell you WHAT veggies we do eat – potatoes and carrots, tomatoes, courgettes, cabbage, mushrooms, capsicums are the main ones. Bok choy, spinach, leafy and salady things a bit less frequently.

    Struggling (esp in winter right now) as to HOW we fit them in. Used a $30 off voucher on a recipe meal box last week and one of their recipes included grated courgette and carrot – I had literally never thought to grate courgettes, that was an easy way to incorporate into a meal!

  17. Debbie M Says:

    I don’t get enough, but here are my strategies:
    * Always have juice in the house (for one admittedly not ideal serving per day)
    * Chopped salad kits – so many ingredients already gathered together! I actually like to stretch it with bags of plain spinach.
    * Sneaking veggies in to my main dish (there is a grated zucchini in my current batch of chili)
    * Remembering that canned sweet potatoes taste good just as they are (if heated–I might also mash them with a fork)–they don’t need marshmallows, brown sugar, butter, etc.
    * Same with La Sierra refried black beans (though technically these are in the protein food group, the five-a-day people think they can count as one of the veggies)
    * Getting things I like when they are in season/on sale (strawberries, especially if I cover them with chocolate; cantaloupe, apples for pie).
    * Taco soup (hamburger and taco seasoning + 1 can each of: diced tomatoes, tomatoes and chilis (aka Rotel tomatoes), corn, hominy, and 3 kinds of beans, like pinto, black, and kidney. Cheese on top, of course.


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