How to Save Money on Produce

posted by Andrea | 04/28/2011

We eat a good amount of fruits and vegetables all year long, but every Spring, I have a burning desire to eat even more delicious fruits and veggies. It sounds like many others have the same desire for spring produce because lately, I’ve received several emails asking how to save money on produce.

I had a few of my own money-saving tricks, but I also asked for your ideas on facebook and twitter — and I’ve compiled the results here.

1. Grow and preserve it.

OK, so this is the most work out of all my ideas, but we do save a lot of money by growing our own produce, or buying it from local orchards, and then canning it to eat year round. Not only is this a great way to save money, it also tastes SO much better than canned food from the store!

Here are some of my favorite recipes:

I also can all our applesauce and salsa, but don’t have those recipes posted yet.

2. Buy frozen or freeze your own.

I buy lots of frozen vegetables — especially because they often go on sale for less than $1.00 per bag and I always have multiple $0.50 or $0.75 off coupons. This allows me to get a full meals worth of vegetables for pennies. Plus, I’ve heard that frozen veggies are actually pretty healthy.

I usually don’t buy frozen fruit {it always seems to be much more expensive} but I do freeze tons of fruit every summer and fall to use for pies, shortcake, pancakes, etc. all year long.

Here’s a pretty thorough list of the things I freeze.

3. Buy what’s in-season.

I try to stick to this money-saving “rule” as much as possible, because buying fresh produce in season will most definitely be your cheapest option. Unfortunately for Michigan, this means we have a limited selection of “cheap” produce during winter months, but that’s when my frozen and canned stockpiles come in handy!

4. Shop the discount produce rack.

Most grocery stores have some sort of discount produce rack that is filled daily with near-expired produce. The downside to this discount produce rack is it’s always hit or miss so I can’t ever count on it.

I know some people are against “old” produce, but I’ll often buy it to bake with or to freeze. For example, I’ll buy mushy bananas and apples for banana bread, apple sauce, apple butter, or apple crisp. I’ll buy peppers, squash, broccoli, etc. for stir fry, soups, stews, vegetable bake, or just to freeze for later. I’ve also had great luck with finding slightly over ripe berries, which are perfect for shortcake or any other dessert.

5. Join a co-op.

Even if you don’t want to grow your own produce, you can join a co-op {by yourself or with a friend} and you’ll get loads of fresh produce every week from spring through fall. You don’t have to do any of the work… just pay a seasonal fee — which is usually pretty reasonable. And if you end up with too much produce, simply freeze it or can it.

6. Buy smaller quantities and smaller sizes.

There is nothing worse the spending your hard-earned money on expensive produce and then watching it go bad in your fridge or on your counter. I hate throwing food away, so when I do buy full-price fresh produce {yes this does happen} I only buy small quantities to assure we eat it all.

I also buy the smallest sized fruit I can find — especially for fruit like bananas and apples, because we only eat one at a time no matter how large or small they are, and I’m paying by the pound!

 

These are a few ways I manage to save money on produce – what are your money-saving tips?

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6 comments

  1. Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger)

    04/28/2011

    Great tips, thanks for sharing. I’m surprised you don’t buy frozen fruit. I do, and I find it to be SO much less expensive than the fresh goods. My local Costco sells frozen wild blueberries for $6-7 for a huge bag. It lasts for at least a month in my freezer and is perfect for smoothies and crisps.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I don’t have a Costco membership, and the frozen fruit at our grocery stores is usually pretty expensive {like $4.00 for a small bag}. I can usually get fruit on sale, or on the discount produce rack for much cheaper…and then freeze it on my own.

    I might have to look into Costco though :)

    [Reply]

  2. Mystery Solved! Learning To Live With Oral Allergy Syndrome | Write On, Jana!

    10/10/2011

    [...] my budget)… like the fact that I should avoid local, seasonal produce. This goes against all frugal wisdom (and my normal eating [...]

  3. Evie

    01/30/2012

    Hi! I’m enjoying your website and learning a lot here! Thanks! I wanted to share a money saving and healthy idea with everybody: You know the bananas in the store that are starting to turn black, the ones bundled together and marked way down? Guess what! They are 99% still perfect inside the peel. I buy them whenever I find them, usually six big packages. As soon as I get home from the store, I peel the bananas one by one and slice them without any treatment at all right into gallon size ziplock bags which I stack in the freezer. The frozen banana slices darken slightly over time, but not much at all. When I want some banana slices for my oatmeal or banana bread or a fruit salad, I take one of the bags out of the freezer, hit it hard against the edge of the counter (LOL, great fun) to break a chunk free, open the bag, and just throw it into whatever I’m cooking! EASY EASY EASY, and truly delicious.

    [Reply]

  4. Kjrsten

    04/12/2013

    Greetings!
    I have also found that frozen is often cheaper. At Walmart, a 4 lb. bag of blueberries was $11.00, fresh was $2.99 (or more) a lb. I saved just under a dollar. No coupons seem to exists in this world for meat and produce. :(

    [Reply]

  5. Kim

    04/12/2013

    Price-matching! Look over your grocery circulars and find the best deals on produce. Then you can buy them at WalMart or another store that has a similar program (here in PA, we have Bottom Dollar Food, which beats competitors’ prices by a penny). I save so much money (and time!) on produce and other staples that way.

    [Reply]