The cost of fruits and vegetables can, at times, completely kill a family’s food budget. Stores rarely have coupons for fruits and veggies, so it can sometimes seem like you are stuck paying full price. So what can you do? How can you make the most of your budget in regards to produce?
Here are a few tips that I have found helpful:
1. Stock up when produce is in season and the price is low.
Different plants have different seasons and when there is an abundance of one fruit or veggie then the price typically goes WAY down. Usually the in-season produce is on the front page of a store’s weekly sale ad so you can see which fruits and veggies to stock up on that way. Or you can know ahead of time which fruits and veggies are going to be in-season by looking at charts like this one (where you can see what’s in-season by state) and this one. Stock up when the prices are low and freeze (or can if you want to) the extra for use later.
2. Store produce properly to avoid spoiling.
If you are going to be stocking up on fruits and veggies and freezing them for later, then you will definitely want to take a look at these two charts from The University of Minnesota on How To Prepare Vegetables To Freeze and How To Prepare Fruits to Freeze. Sometimes you have to pre-cook certain vegetables so that they will freeze correctly.
If you are going to be using your produce soon, then you will want to know where to store your produce for maximum shelf life (this is a great resource from Mint.com, a site that I would HIGHLY recommend checking out if you haven’t already.)
3. Plan your meals around in-season produce, not what you are in the mood for.
Sure, you might be in the mood for guacamole, but if Avocados are $2 each, then you might want to wait until the price comes down. You will see a huge difference in your produce spending if you only plan your meals around what’s in-season… and you’ll get to try out all kinds of fun new fruits and vegetables too!
4. Use your meat budget to buy more veggies!
Did you know that one serving size of meat is only 3 ounces?? That means that a 12 ounce steak could feasibly feed 4 people! Use that extra money that you are not spending on meat to buy extra veggies, which are healthier for you than meat and veggies don’t cost anywhere close to as much per pound!
5. Buy from local farmers and vendors.
Buying local is one of the best things that we have done to reduce our produce budget. We have some great farms near us that harvest and sell fruits and veggies all through the year. If you live in a larger city, be sure to check out the prices at your local Farmer’s Market as well. Many times they are much less than the supermarket, especially if you buy in bulk.
6. Find or start a fruit and veggie food co-op.
7. Grow your own.
I will be the first to admit that gardening and me don’t go very well together. At all. I’ve tried and tried, but for some reason I just can’t get the hang of it! Now that Ryan is home during the day though, I wouldn’t be surprised if he started up a garden this next spring… I think the plants would like him a lot better than they seem to like me.
The friends of mine who have successfully had a seasonal garden have all sworn by a method called Square Foot Gardening for gardening in small places (where you don’t have a few acres to plant a crop). Just make sure you know which planting zone you live in and when to start your seeds so that you don’t plant too late or too early.
8. Buy your fruits and veggies the way God made ’em.
Yes, I love pre-cut fruits and veggies too… but… if you are wanting to save money on your fruits and veggies then the way to do that is by cutting them yourself. Convenience is great at times, but those extra dollars saved can really go a long way.
What are your tips for cutting the costs of produce?