5 Surprising & Creative Ways to Save on Produce

Ways to Save Money On Produce

Fresh fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, yet buying all those perishable foods can get expensive. So let’s focus on some surprising techniques for minimizing cost and maximizing value when it comes to produce. No Coupons Even Needed! 

{I’m not including in my creative tips below, the obvious way to save money on produce, which is having a garden, because I figure you already know that would be an easy way to get FREE’ish Produce.}

1. The Golden Rule for Saving Money on Produce is:

Always buy the produce that is In-Season and even better would be to buy when it is  In-Season AND On-Sale!

Sometimes we are excited about a new recipe to try, but it calls for an item that is only available out of season.

In this day and age of having calendar access from our phones, instead of cooking that recipe right now, add the recipe info to your smartphone calendar to remember to fix it at a later date, and this week choose a recipe that utilizes produce that is in season and on sale right now.

The saving money strategy is that produce is cheapest to buy when it is plentiful because it is in season!

2. Don’t let THEM Pick it…U-Pick It!

All over the country, farmers open their fields to allow the public to come in and U-Pick produce right out of the field!

Savings per pound at U-picks range from 20 to 50% below supermarket and Farmer’s market prices.

In my area of West Central Florida, early March is the start of the U-Pick Strawberry season, then in the weeks (and months) to follow, we can find inexpensive peaches, blueberries, and tomatoes. Not only is it a way to stretch your dollar, but is also a family fun activity!

Our kids look forward to the excruciating Tomato Picking and Peeling activity we do each June. {Local to central FL? One of our favorite places to go is out in Thonotosassa (just off I-4) at Strawberry Passion Farms. They also offer several options for combining and ordering once a week and then picking up from a central location. And we always visit Hunsader Farms to pick tomatoes the end of May or first week of June!}

Find a Farm near you: Go to PickYourOwn.org to find a local U-Pick farm near you! *Caution* you will want to find the name there, and then search for the actual farm on Facebook to get true hours and availability.

Save Money on ProduceTips for U-Picking: Bring Containers, Sunscreen & Watch the Chemicals. Sometimes Farms will provide the containers, but if you plan to pick a lot of produce for canning, then bringing your own container may get you an even further discount. Ask the farm when they last sprayed the fields. Many farmers stop spraying once the fields are open for U-Pick, but their answer could dictate how much “sampling” you do while picking in the field. Also try to hit the fields first thing in the morning. That is best for crowd control and safer from the heat exhaustion and sun burn.

2. Join a Local Farm Co-Op

Becoming a member of a local farm is a great way to save on produce. These are also called Community Supported Agriculture or “CSA”. Not only does it save shopping time, but you are getting local, in-season, super-fresh (usually picked the day of or before it is delivered to you) produce that will last longer.

Typical pricing is around $30 for a heaping box of produce, delivered or picked up weekly or bi-weekly. I personally use Lancaster Farms Co-Op and they deliver a big box of produce to my house every other week! Another Co-Op we have heard great things about is Bountiful Baskets (outside of FL).

3. Shop at ALDI or your local Farmer’s Market

This option is best for those not wanting to commit to a produce club/Co-Op. Typically not as great a deal as the CSA, it is still better than shopping at a Big Box or Warehouse store because of the competition between all the farms being in one location once a week. Still, you must factor in the convenience factor that you can only go on the day the Farmer’s Market gathers, typically a weekend day.

Don’t Pass By Aldi –  Aldi has great prices on produce, similar to a Farmer’s Market. But they do not have a giant selection, mostly what is in season.That means you can get good prices all the time at ALDI, but sometimes you have to buy it in packaged amounts that are typically for larger families.

Visit LocalHarvest.org to find both CSA’s and Farmer’s Markets closest to your home. Simply enter your zip code in the search option.

Save Money on produce

4. Shake! Shake! Shake!

Here is a simple tip for when you have to buy produce items at your regular grocery store. Shake! Make sure you shake that produce. The “mist” machine that keeps produce looking fresh is also adding weight to your item. Be sure to shake it off before you put it in the bag.

No need to pay for extra water weight to come home with you.

Side Note: Did you know that Target regularly has Store Coupons on Produce? And don’t forget coupons are excellent at making frozen produce cheap!

5. Freeze It Before It Goes Bad

Frozen produce can be cheaper than fresh in the off season. And along those same Frozen lines… before any produce goes bad, do not waste any produce by throwing it away. FREEZE IT!

Did you know it is super simple to flash freeze items at HOME?!! Yes! Just cut your items up, lay them in a single layer on parchment paper on cookie sheets. Then throw them in the freezer and 4 hours later, you simply bag up to use later.

Freezing them this way will help them keep longer and not freeze in one big lump making them hard to use.

If you have a food sealer to vacuum out the air they will last even longer!

Did you know you can even FREEZE Avocados?! {Just make them into Guacamole and load into a ziplock freezer bag and lay flat to freeze.} There is a trick to freeze anything… wasting food is wasting money!

Bonus: For Organic Produce Eaters

Do you primarily purchase more expensive organics? Then make sure you familiarize yourself with the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of the most pesticide laden produce.

Scroll down to the bottom of the list, because those items have the least amount of pesticides on them. Avocados, Pineapple, Mangoes, Cabbage, Onions… are all items that have less pesticide residue on them and could be purchased conventionally, therefore cheaper, saving your budget without sacrificing your values and standards!

Do you have some tips for ways to save on Produce? Please share them in the comments below!

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Ways to Save Money on Fresh Produce! | Keep your family healthy and save money too!