What is the cheapest fresh vegetable to buy?

December 8, 2023

Globally, there are a number of fresh vegetables known for their affordability and nutritional value. Incorporating budget-friendly vegetable options into your diet can help you maintain a balanced and healthy diet, without straining your household budget.

Versatile vegetables are also useful for households to minimise their food wastage, and ensure they're getting the most from their produce. A versatile vegetable includes those that offer flavour and nutrition, and also vegetables that can be used in a range of dishes - breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Vegetables that can be eaten cooked or raw, and as snacks, are also helpful vegetables to have available in your kitchen.

How filling or satisfying a vegetable is, should also be considered alongside price. Some vegetables are more nutrient dense than others, and have more complex carbohydrates which make them a good option to include in a substantial family meal.

Another factor to consider in your next produce shop is the shelf life of your chosen vegetable. Long lasting vegetables like onions and garlic are great to have on hand as they can last for months if stored well.

Let's take a look at five of the most common low cost vegetables available.

  1. Carrots: Carrots are budget-friendly, versatile and contain potassium, antioxidants, and vitamin A. You can enjoy them raw as snacks, add them to salads, or include them in cooked dishes.
  2. Cabbage: Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that is both economical and nutritious - a little goes a long way, so one cabbage can make multiple dishes. It's a good source of fibre, folate, potassium, magnesium, and a range of vitamins. Cabbage can be used cooked or raw in various dishes, from coleslaw to stir-fries.
  3. Potatoes: Potatoes are a staple in many cuisines and are well known for being one of the most affordable vegetables. They are a good source of fibre, antioxidants and vitamins. Whether baked, mashed, or roasted, potatoes offer versatility in the kitchen.
  4. Spinach: Spinach is a nutrient-rich leafy green that is often reasonably priced. It's an excellent source of iron, vitamins, magnesium and folic acid. Spinach can be used raw or cooked in salads, smoothies, or cooked dishes.
  5. Onions: the budget-friendly onion can serve as a vegetable, flavour enhancer or both in your next meal. Served cooked, raw, pickled or powdered, onions contain vitamins, minerals, fibre and quercetin that make it a healthy chef's choice.

Consumers all over the world are facing soaring living costs, leading them to pay more attention to everything we buy. Some people are looking to reduce their grocery bill, by removing unnecessary items, or buying more low value products and getting creative in the kitchen.

The onion is a hero vegetable in a high cost of living environment: cheap to buy, long lasting and it delivers a powerful punch of flavour and nutrition to a variety of dishes.

If you're looking for great value vegetables, you'll want produce that is versatile, has minimal wastage and is available year round. The onion ticks all these boxes. This hero vegetable is grown in diverse climates across the globe, ensuring a steady and year-round supply.

The onion's impressive storage capabilities play a crucial role in its affordability. Onions have a remarkable shelf life, allowing consumers to purchase them in bulk without fear of spoilage. To maximise the shelf life of your onions, store them in a cool dark place, such as a cupboard or pantry.

This is a game-changer for those looking to stretch their grocery budget, as onions can be bought in larger quantities when prices are low and stored for extended periods. It also allows you to share your low cost supply with family, friends and neighbours, in exchange for other surplus they may have.

Onion Nutrition Facts

Onions may be valued for their low cost and long shelf life, but we often forget about their nutritional value.

Onion health benefits are considerable, given the wealth of vitamins, minerals and healthy compounds that make eating onions a healthy, everyday choice. 

Onions are considered to be a nutritional powerhouse. They are fat-free and cholesterol-free and low in sodium. They are a source of fibre, vitamin C and B6, potassium, folate, calcium and iron. Despite being packed with nutritional benefits and flavour, they remain low in calories. Perfect for consumers on a diet or monitoring their calorie intake.

Onions also contain the flavonoid quercetin, an antioxidant that research studies have shown helps to eliminate free radicals in the body, and delay or slow the oxidative damage to cells and tissue. While research continues to understand both the health benefits, and levels present, we do know that quercetin diglucoside is present in all New Zealand grown onions.

If you want to increase your quercetin intake, brown onions contain more quercetin than red onions. To retain higher levels of quercetin when cooking your onions, try mincing the onion and sauteeing lightly.

Fructans are another important onion health benefit. "One of the biggest benefits of onions is for our gut health, because they're essentially providing food for our gut bacteria (fructans), which is really nourishing our gut microbiome." Felicity Morrell is a dietician from South Australia who recommends including onions in our diet most days. 

What is the cheapest way to buy vegetables?

Here are five useful tips to reduce your grocery bill, while making sure your family eats a balanced and healthy diet. Freshness is also important, so your vegetable selection is as nutritious as possible.

  1. Selecting vegetables that add great flavour to your meals - vegetables that add flavour as well as colour or nutrition, ensure more delicious dishes.
  2. Buy seasonal vegetables to save money - seasonal vegetables are often cheaper as large volumes of product are ripe for harvest and come onto the market in a short space of time and need to be sold quickly.
  3. Choose locally grown produce when possible - local produce is usually cheaper and fresher as they don't have as far to travel.
  4. Consider growing your own vegetables at home - do you have space to grow some of your own, or most loved vegetables at home?
  5. Frozen vegetables can sometimes be cheaper than fresh vegetables - check the freezer section of your local supermarket as frozen vegetables can offer great value; but note can sometimes mean the nutritional content is reduced so make sure you are checking your goods!

We believe in the benefits of onions as a remarkable and budget-friendly vegetable in times of high living costs. Onions are low cost, high flavour, versatile, have great storage capability and nutritional and health benefits. They are a smart choice for anyone looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle without overspending on household groceries.

So, the next time you're at the produce market, supermarket or grocery store, don't overlook the onion. In fact, consider buying them in bulk to add to your meals and enjoy the long storage capability. This nutritional powerhouse of a vegetable will bring your dishes to life and they're good for your health too.

It doesn’t hurt to add an extra onion to your meal for flavour and health!

Consider New Zealand grown onions - why compromise on quality?