Packed with fibre and essential nutrients, fruit and vegetables are a must-have in any healthy diet. But research has revealed that many of us don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables – with only 31% of UK adults meeting the five-a-day-recommendation.

However, the good news is that if you’re currently not eating enough, there are plenty of ways to boost your fruit and vegetable intake, and it doesn’t need to be as tricky as you might think.

Sneaking extra vegetables into sauces, planning meals ahead of time, and trying new fruit and vegetables varieties each week to keep things interesting, are just a few examples.

With that said, here are 10 simple ways to add more fruit and vegetables to your diet.

1. Understand what five-a-day looks like

Understand what five-a-day looks like

We’re all familiar with the five a day recommendation, but what does this actually mean? Before looking at ways to eat more fruit and vegetables, it’s worth understanding where the five a day number came from and what it looks like in practise.

The five-a-day idea is based on advice from the World Health Organization (WHO). It suggests that eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day can lower the risk of serious health issues, such as heart disease, stroke, and some forms of cancer.

This is because fruit and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. They’re also a rich source of dietary fibre, which is important for maintaining a healthy gut.

Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables can also contribute towards maintaining a healthy weight because the vast majority are low in fat and calories (assuming you don’t cook them in lots of oil!).

According to the NHS, almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your five a day – and 80g of fresh, canned, or frozen fruit or vegetables counts as one adult portion. However, there are some caveats. For example, potatoes and some other starchy foods don’t count, 30g of dried fruit rather than 80g counts as one five a day portion, and only 150ml of fruit juice or smoothie counts towards you five a day, no matter how much you drink.

You can find out more about five a day portions on the NHS website, or have a watch of the video below…

2. Try new fruit and vegetables each week to keep things interesting

Try new fruit and vegetables each week to keep things interesting

Many of us find ourselves eating the same meals and, therefore, fruit and veg, on rotation every week or even every day. Being stuck in this pattern can, understandably, make mealtimes pretty unexciting.

Aside from providing a sense of novelty, there are also many health benefits to eating a varied diet – the key one being that you’ll get more nutrients. For example, this study found that people who rotated 16 to 17 healthy foods throughout their diet had a 42% lower mortality rate from all causes than those who rotated zero to eight healthy foods.

This could be as simple as swapping one fruit or vegetable for another – such as broccoli for carrots or apples for plums. Or, you could have some fun with it and try fruit and vegetables that you’ve never tried before. Some people also like to ‘eat the rainbow’ by trying a different coloured fruit or vegetable each week.

For inspiration, why not have a read of our article; What fruit and vegetables are in season now?

3. Start the day right with breakfast

Start the day right with breakfast

As with any goal, it can be helpful to start your day as you mean to go on. For many people, having a hearty breakfast that takes them one step closer to their five a day target serves as motivation to stay on track for the rest of the day.

Whether you prefer sweet or savoury, there are plenty of ways to add a healthy dose of fruit or vegetables to your breakfast. For example, why not top your oatmeal or cereal with a serving of fruit, or add vegetables like spinach and mushrooms to an omelette? You could even enjoy a fresh smoothie on the side.

For meal ideas, you might like to check out our articles; 9 healthy breakfast ideas to kickstart your day and 11 summer breakfast ideas.

4. Try batch cooking and prepping your meals ahead of time

Try batch cooking and prepping your meals ahead of time

If you find having to plan and prepare what you’ll eat each day dull and time consuming, then you might find batch cooking or prepping your meals ahead of time a useful tool.

Some people like to set aside a day to batch cook and prepare their meals for the week ahead – whether that’s a ready-to-go breakfast, packed lunch for work, or dinners that you’ll simply need to reheat in the evenings.

Beyond saving you both time and money, batch cooking and prepping meals ahead of time can also be a useful tool for making healthier choices and hitting your five a day.

This study found that 39% of people batch cook so they don’t have to plan their meal at the end of the day, 25% do so in order to eat more healthily, and 40% say it makes their lives easier. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, this study found that batch cooking saves people an average of £1,100 a year on their grocery bill.

For inspiration on how to batch cook and prepare food ahead of time, you might like to have a read of our articles; 8 batch cooking recipes that will last all week and 15 freezeable recipes that make for easy meals later.

Alternatively, for snack ideas you can prepare in advance, check out this list of 10 make-ahead fruit and vegetable snacks from Bless This Mess.

5. Consider growing some home produce

Consider growing some home produce

There’s something incredibly satisfying about cooking and eating food that you’ve grown yourself. Plus, home-grown fruit and veg often tastes better than shop-bought produce.

So why not have a go at growing your own fruit and vegetables? The good news is that it’s probably much easier than you think. Whether you’ve got garden space or a windowsill box to work with, there’s something for everyone to grow.

If you’re ready to get started, check out our articles; 8 superfoods you can grow from home, 10 easy-to-grow vegetables, and 10 things you can grow in a window box at home.

6. Add some variety to your snacks

Add some variety to your snacks

Snacking on fruit and vegetables doesn’t have to be boring. Beyond eating an apple and crunching on a celery stick, there are plenty of ways to enjoy fruit and vegetable-based snacks.

From homemade baked vegetable crisps and fruit popsicles, to strawberries dipped in dark chocolate and crispy roasted chickpeas, there are so many delicious options that’ll take you one step closer to hitting your five a day.

For more ideas, why not taste-test one of these veggie snacks for feel-good munching from The Kitchn, or try some of Greatist’s 31 healthy fruit snack recipes?

7. Swap out some carbs for veggies

Swap out some carbs for veggies

Lower-carb alternatives such as zucchini, cauliflower rice, and root vegetable mash have become increasingly popular in recent years – particularly amongst people wanting to reduce their calories, boost their fibre intake, and get more nutrients.

For example, not only does swapping pasta for zucchini contribute towards you five a day, but courgettes also contain high amounts of nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fibre.

Diets rich in fibre from fruit and veg like zucchini are also consistently linked with powerful health benefits, including a reduced risk of conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Other simple swaps you can make include using lettuce wraps, vegetable sheet lasagne, cauliflower pizza base, and sweet potato toast. Remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing – why not consider going half and half with carbs and vegetable alternatives?

For more ideas, check out these 14 hearty recipes that swap carbs with veggies from Tasty.

8. Add extra fruit and vegetables to sauces

Add extra fruit and vegetables to sauces

One of the simplest ways to eat more fruit and vegetables is to add them to sauces.

Many people enjoy the texture and crunch that fruit and veg can add to a meal, but if you’d prefer to disguise them, then you could consider using a blender or finely chopping your ingredients.

There are endless ways to add fruit and vegetables to sauces and it can be fun to experiment with different flavours.

For example, onions, mushrooms, carrots, red peppers, and tinned tomatoes all make great additions to a bolognese sauce, and many people enjoy aubergine, cauliflower, or the sweet taste of butternut squash, mango, or pineapple in curry sauces.

You could even try making your own fruit and vegetable-based sauces from scratch, such as pesto, salsa, aioli, guacamole, cranberry, or apple sauce.

For inspiration, check out this list of sauces full of vegetables from Half Your Plate, or Yummly’s list of 10 best fruit sauce recipes.

9. Experiment with different baking recipes

Experiment with different baking recipes

While eating chocolate cake everyday isn’t the greatest idea for health, the good news is that there are plenty of healthier baking recipes that can be enjoyed every day as part of a balanced diet.

These days, there are endless baking recipes that use fruit and vegetables in their ingredients – and getting creative in the kitchen can be a fun way to push towards your five a day.

Some people also find that the fruit and vegetables they don’t enjoy in standard form, they often enjoy in baking recipes!

For inspiration, why not try one of these healthy fruit and vegetable bakes recipes from Sneaky Veg or check out Taste’s list of 25 brilliant ways to bake with fruit and veg? From pumpkin and blueberry bread to papaya and sunflower seed scones, these are sure to tickle your tastebuds.

10. Consider eating more plant-based meals

Consider eating more plant-based meals

If you really struggle to get your five a day, eating more plant-based meals is worth a try.

Research has found that because vegan and vegetarian diets replace many animal products with more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, they tend to provide more fibre, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds – including nutrients like magnesium, potassium, folate, and vitamins A, C, and E.

As a result, this study found that due to eating considerably more fruits, vegetables, and legumes, vegans have a 15% lower risk of developing cancer than nonvegans.

If you’d like to start eating more plant-based meals, you’ll find plenty of delicious recipe ideas in our articles; 14 healthy and easy vegetarian recipes, 10 sweet and savoury vegan recipes, and 10 of the best vegan BBQ recipes.

Final thoughts…

Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is one of the simplest ways to boost our wellbeing. But we know from research that many of us aren’t getting our five a day.

However, the good news is that there are plenty of fun, straightforward, and delicious ways to eat more fruit and vegetables. And for those of us who really struggle to eat enough, it’s possible to sneak them into your diet without even noticing too!

For further health advice, head over to the diet and nutrition section of our website. Here you’ll find everything from simple diet swaps for a healthy lifestyle to essential vitamin and mineral guides.