Are you getting enough? (Fruit and veg, that is)

Well they're certainly getting their five-a-day. Image: Ali Karimian
"A lot of people stick with the same supermarket they have always gone to instead of shopping around. But if you shop around, you can save quite a bit of money" Annemarie Aburrow
  • | by Abbie Laughton-Coles

Blended to oblivion, hidden in a stew, mashed to a paste, however you get your five-a-day, it would now seem that even that is not enough.

Nutritional boffins at the University College London surveyed 65,000 people over 12 years and concluded that we should actually be consuming at least seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day (portions reckoned as 80g).

The science

Fruit stall - muammerokumus

Image by: Muammerokumus

Alas, it's not as simple as juicing down seven apples and drinking them in one go. To really get the vitamin hit that you need, you should be eating different fruits and vegetables.

Plus, did you know that fresh vegetables offer you the most protection against life-threatening conditions, such as cancer and heart disease? Next best is salad, then fruit.

Remember that if you have a health insurance or life insurance policy, or are thinking about taking one out, good health can help to lower your premiums - another reason to reach for the nutritious stuff.

Expert dietitian and nutritionist, Annemarie Aburrow says: "Basically the more you eat the better. The five-a-day message was chosen as an achievable target, and at the moment we eat two portions a day on average in the UK. Vegetables are more protective than fruit and have been proven to protect against diseases such as bowel cancer, but both fruit and vegetables are needed by the body."

Let's talk cash

Supermarket - david boyle

Image by: David Boyle

Now it's hardly breaking news that the healthy stuff can be a tad expensive, making it that little bit easier to reach for a packet of crisps, doughnut, biscuit, pie... You get the picture.

So, is it actually feasible for us as a population to munch our way through the equivalent of a rabbit's packed lunch on a daily basis without breaking the bank?

Of course, it will depend on where you shop. It's a well-known fact that large supermarket chains and their express branches are often more expensive than market stalls and local shops for fresh produce.

How do they stack up?

Stacked up - Stan Dalone & Miran Rijavec

Image by: Stan Dalone & Miran Rijavec

It does seem like an insurmountable task, especially if you have a family to feed. You may think that eating healthier may leave you out of pocket.

But if you shop around you could probably save yourself a few pretty pennies. For instance, a kilogram of basic carrots will cost you 69p at Sainsburys, 75p at Tesco, 89p at Asda or 95p at Waitrose. Although it may seem like insignificant pennies, if you save nearly 30p on each of your fruit and veg products, it will soon turn into a real saving over time.

Annemarie says: "A lot of people stick with the same supermarket they have always gone to instead of shopping around. But if you do shop around, you can save quite a bit of money. Also if you shop towards the end of the day, you can really get some bargains."

Do it yourself

fruit and veg - oatsy40

Image by: oatsy40

Eating healthy on the cheap need be no more taxing than making up meals yourself rather than buying pre-packaged ones. For example, a 330g classic salad bowl from Sainsburys will set you back £3, yet, if you bought the ingredients individually, you could make five portions of a similar salad for around £3.50.

Other top tips include only purchasing multipacks if you know for sure that you're going to eat it all. We're all guilty of leaving a sad, lonely brown banana at the back of our fruit bowl, so by instigating a buy-as-you-eat policy you ensure that you will only have what you need.

Annemarie says: "You can freeze fruits or you can put vegetables in a stew and freeze them for later. In terms of nutritional value, frozen or tinned fruits and vegetables are similar to fresh nowadays and they last for ages."

Also try to buy in season. If you're trying to buy strawberries in December or asparagus in September, you will probably be paying for the privilege.

You'll thank me for it later

Kid eating fruit - David Amsler

Image by: David Amsler

Have you ever tried to get a cat in a bath? Well it's pretty similar to trying to get children to eat their fruit and vegetables. So what to do?

AnneMarie says: "It starts with the under-fives and getting them used to fruit and veg as a finger food from an early age, so they can accept the texture and taste. And just keep on offering it - it takes at least 15 attempts for a baby to enjoy a new food. Add vegetables to their dinner and give them fruit after every meal instead of cakes or biscuits."

†Prices correct at time of publication.