According to an article in the Washington Post, between 14 and 25% of food and beverages in households get tossed annually. That’s hundreds to thousands of dollars per year lost! Perishable produce plays a large part of that percentage. The good news is that we control how much we buy and how much we consume at home. Here are 7 Ways to Save Money on Produce so you can save money on your food bill and use the money elsewhere.
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7 Ways to Save Money on Produce
Don’t Throw Away Produce
The biggest loss of money on food is simply throwing it away. What good is getting a great deal on bananas when you end up throwing them in the trash? How does a 100% loss sound? Not good! All of us are guilty of this, me included! How about the rotting bagged salad that got trashed? All of us are guilty of this.
Tips to Avoid Trashing Produce
- Take inventory of what’s in the refrigerator twice a week
- peel and freeze bananas and berries to use for smoothies, banana bread or pancakes
- Don’t toss those Halloween pumpkins; Roast them and make pumpkin puree
- Use salad bags as close to buying them as possible and buy the freshest check dates.
- Use wrinkled grape tomatoes in pasta dishes
- Blanch broccoli and freeze it before it goes bad
- Cook baby carrots, toss with olive oil or butter before they go bad
- Use wilting veggies, like celery in soups
- refrigerate potatoes
Bananas will hold up frozen for up to two months and unpeeled bananas for up to 3-4 months!
They key is to take inventory of your produce. Plan to cook it before it is starting to go bad or freeze it before you need to toss it so, you can save money on produce.
Always Buy on Sale
I know, this goes without saying but, it is too important not to mention.
- Buy produce only when it’s on sale, especially good sales. It will always save you money in the long run as long as you don’t toss it.
- Plan meals around what produce is on sale. If bell peppers are on sale, now is the time to make One Pot Jambalaya with Shrimp and Andouille Sausage.
- Before you offer to make something for a potluck party, check to see what produce you already have in the refrigerator or what’s on sale at the store especially, when you are feeding a crowd. The same goes for hosting parties. Plan your menu around what’s on sale.
- Compare prices and know what’s a good price for produce you normally buy and you’ll save money on produce.
Only Buy What You’ll Use
Buying only what you will use is easier if you have a meal plan. This meal plan made easy article is great for beginners.
- Plan meals around produce sale ads.
- Make a weekly or monthly meal plan.
- Buy from wholesale produce suppliers or warehouse membership stores where you will get fresh produce for less money. Freeze what you don’t think you’ll use.
- If you do over buy, use leftover produce for veggie snacks, soups and pasta dishes, or freeze it.
Buy from Stores That Have Cheaper Produce Prices on Average
This ties into always buying on sale and only what you’ll use. Try to buy produce from stores, that on average, have the lowest prices. Getting a great deal one week on kale but, paying too much for the rest of your “on sale” produce will leave you paying more in the end.
- Know what are good prices for the produce you normally buy and compare prices
- Buy the store brand for packaged fresh produce such as carrots, salad bags, herbs, etc. Store brand is usually cheaper, even when the brand produce is on sale.
- Make your own veggie platters with grape tomatoes, baby carrots, and cut up broccoli. Cutting up your own fruits and vegetables will allow you to save money on produce.
Again, you want to shop for produce at stores that have the best prices on average. Unless you have time to go from store-to-store shopping only the best deals, pick the store who has the best prices on average. This applies for your groceries in general.
Buy in Season Produce
Buying in season will help you save money on produce. This helpful guide will tell you which fruits and vegetables are in season for your region. Keep in mind that in-season produce may be different in warmer climates than cooler climates.
- Shop at Farmer’s Markets, roadside produce stands and discount wholesale produce places. Stores such as, Aldi’s can save you money on produce in the long run.
- Cook fresh produce within 3 days of purchase.
- Always check the dates on packaged produce and reach or the packages in the back that are fresher.
- Meal planning is easier when you buy produce in season.
- Buy corn on the cob in the summer, cook, cut and freeze it in plastic zipper bags for winter.
- Buy and can tomatoes in the summer or make sauce with them and freeze it.
- Make your own pickles by canning them.
Make Rustic Strawberry Rhubarb Galette or strawberry jam when strawberries are in season.
Use summer frozen corn to make tasty soups like this One Pot Corn and Crab Chowder.
Buy apples in the fall to make delicious Easy Apple Crisp with Craisins and freeze the leftovers, if any remain, that is.
Take Your Kids to “Pick Your Own” Farms
This is such a fun activity to do with your kids. We took our boys to an orchard that allows customers to pick their own fruit. Our boys had fun picking blueberries and cherries right off the bushes and trees. It was a great opportunity to show our 3 and 5-year-old boys where fruit really comes from. Our blueberries were still fresh after two weeks!
- Go to a pick your own orchard to get fresh really fresh fruit that will last longer
- Buy seconds for really cheap and make apple sauce, strawberry sauce, jams, etc. or freeze the seconds.
Making apple sauce is so easy if you have a food mill. I used it often when I made baby food and saved a bundle!
Grow Your Own Garden
Growing your own garden can be a lot of work but, you can save big on produce by not buying as much grocery store produce. You may then can and/or pickle produce to save for the winter and savor the summer ripened flavors all year-long.
- Grow your own garden
- plant a winter garden
- plant a herb garden
- Can your crop and save the flavors of ripe produce
- Use an irrigation system to make gardening easier
- Get your kids involved in gardening planting, watering and picking.
Our boys love picking ripe tomatoes, turning on the irrigation system and watching daddy roto till the garden. Educating your kids on where veggies come from is a life skill. Getting your kids involved in gardening and picking fruit will facilitate educating them on healthy eating and good habits.
If growing your own garden sounds scary, start small. Start with a couple of tomato plants this summer and add more year after year. Or, start with a herb garden! Your cooking will go to the next level using fresh herbs. Why buy mint leaves for $3 at the grocery when you can buy a plant for $5 to make Easy Watermelon Pineapple Mint Mojitos, You’ll have plenty of mint leaves to last all summer.
We love reading our Vegetable Friends book to our boys at bed time. Our kids’ favorites are Spuds Potato and Charles Broccoli! They also love Veggie Tales. Books are a great way to get kids interested in eating vegetables.
Related article: Best Gift Ideas for Aspiring Little Boy Chefs
7 Ways to Save Money on Produce by buying in season, what’s on sale and only what you’ll use, reducing waste, comparing prices, gardening, and meal planning will enable you to cook healthier meals for your family while saving big money for bigger things… like buying that beautiful single house you’ve been dreaming about!
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