9 Smart ways to save money on fresh produce
It's easy to save big money on some food items, but options seem limited when it comes to eating healthy and fresh on a budget.
I went on a mission to prove that it's possible to save money on fresh fruits and vegetables. I found tons of ways to save in the produce department, and I'm sharing my nine best tips for saving money on healthy, fresh food.
1. Use coupons
Produce coupons are rare — but not impossible to find. Look on the Target Cartwheel app or follow specific produce brands on social media. Some of my favorites to follow are: Driscoll’s Berries, Del Monte (Pineapple), Dole bagged salads, Organic Girl, Chiquita, Earthbound Farm, Wholly Guacamole, Fresh Express, Birds Eye and Libby's.
2. Price match
Stop running around town! Find a store that price matches, bring in the competitor's ad and save yourself time — and gas money. Walmart and Target are two major price matchers. To take advantage of their policies, simply bring the competitor’s ad with you to the store and present it at checkout. At Walmart, you can do this in the regular checkout line, but at Target it’s best to check out at the customer service desk. Either way, you’re looking at saving money for your efforts.
3. Weigh pre-bagged produce
Since pre-bagged produce is often packed by volume and not weight, you can actually find some that give you more bang for your buck when you weigh each one.
4. Buy local
This one can be tricky. Local farmer's markets and roadside stands can either save you a bundle or cost more than the grocery store. You have to be able to spot a good deal, or you may fall victim to paying extra for the atmosphere. If you're looking to score an extra bargain, try shopping towards the end of the day when sellers are willing to dispense of their goods for less to save them from hauling things home.
5. Start a garden
You can't get any fresher than picking produce in your own backyard. If you don't have space to start your own garden, consider something on a smaller scale, like cultivating fresh herbs or renting a plot in a community garden.
You may not even need to buy seeds. Search for "seed swaps" or "seed libraries" in your area or visit online gardening forums like Garden Web to find free or low cost seeds.
6. Buy in season
When fruits and veggies are in season, you can snatch them up for a song. Know what produce is in season during each time of year and plan your meals accordingly. This method alone can save you 10 to 15 percent on produce.
Bonus: If you buy extra to freeze or can, you can enjoy produce out of season too. Simply blanch the vegetables, submerge them in ice water and freeze them in airtight containers or freezer bags with as much air removed as possible.
7. Join a co-op
Many communities have co-op produce programs available. By getting a group of people together to place a bulk order direct from farmers and suppliers, you can cut out the middle man, save money and get fresher goods. Find a co-op near you.
8. Shop warehouse stores
You need to be careful with this one. For the best values at warehouse stores, shop organic produce. You can typically find in-season produce for $.99 to $1.99 lb. Their pre-cut convenience packs are where you'll tend to pay extra, because you're paying for the convenience factor. Go figure.
9. Shop discount and ethnic grocery stores
Discount stores like Aldi and Asian or Hispanic markets are great places to save on produce. For example, an avocado in my grocery store might cost $1.99, but you can get them three for $1 at a Hispanic market near my house.