Fresh produce doesn’t have to be a large portion of your grocery budget. Shop around and keep track of your best prices and you will quickly find how to get your family the best deal you can on your favorites.
Check other stores prices. Produce is featured in every grocery store’s circular. Make sure you compare prices for all the store’s sales in your area to make sure you get the best price. You can also price match these prices at many stores including Walmart.
Eat in season. It is not always cost effective to purchase your family’s favorites every week. Learn what produce is in season in your area and base your meals around that. When your favorites are in season you can purchase extras so you can enjoy them in abundance.
Eat locally. If you can find a local farmer’s market you can get produce for as little as half of what the big stores charge. Plus, you are helping to support farmers in your community. Visit toward the end of the day when farmers are packing up. They are more likely to cut you a deal so they don’t have to carry as much home with them.
Watch for coupons. Sometimes stores will have coupons for your produce purchase. Make sure you have signed for their clubs, magazines, and text coupons. Manufacturers also release coupons, but they are infrequent.
Use rebates and wine tags. Beer and wine manufacturers will release rebates and coupons to help you save on your purchase of produce, meats, snacks, and more. Some states do not require you to purchase the alcohol to use the rebate. Check the spirits section in your local store or on Ebay.
Don’t overbuy. You can’t freeze most produce like you can meat, so make sure you only buy what you know you will use.
Weigh your produce. Packages that say they contain so many pounds of vegetables or fruits are not weighed to be exact by the packaging plant. Put them on the scale at your supermarket and choose the heaviest one available. If that 3 lb bag of apples actually weighs 3.2 lbs, you just got a couple ounces of free produce!
Buy quality produce. While it might not be cheapest per pound, it is better quality and will last longer in your fridge
Substitute with canned and frozen. The rule of thumb is that the healthiest produce is fresh, followed by frozen, and finally canned. If your favorite produce is not on sale then look for it in the frozen and then canned sections of the store.
Watch for markdowns. Some stores will mark down their browning produce. If your store does, ask the produce manager when they usually mark it down.
Join Produce Co-Ops or Consumer Supported Agriculture. Google to see if there is a Co-Op in your area. You can go in with others and save big on produce items.
Start your own garden. We just planted a garden with some of our favorite veggies. If you don’t have space for a large garden you could always try container gardening.
Barter. If one of your friends or family member have a garden or even fruit trees, see if they have surplus they can give/sell/trade with you.
Visit a Farm. There are some farms that let you come and pick your own fruits and veggies for cheap. Be sure to check around your area to see if your area has one.
Learn how to properly store produce. You can’t just throw all produce together in the same drawer in the fridge and expect it to last a while. Each item has it’s own unique way it needs to be stored. Be sure to Google each variety of produce you buy to make sure you are storing it correctly.
Tips to stretch fresh produce:
- Green and Red Bell Peppers keep best if you remove them from the plastic bag you brought them home in before placing them in the crisper drawer. You can also dice them and place in freezer baggies and freeze for using in recipes and casseroles later.
- Dice onions and celery and freeze also.
- Place a paper towel in the plastic bag you brought your zucchini, cucumbers, green beans and grapes home in but leave the bag open. The paper towel will soak up extra moisture and prevent rot.
- You can also place a paper towel in the bag with your lettuce, but be sure to close it up.
- Store onions away from other fruits and veggies. Onion fumes make other produce rot faster.
Learn how to shop for produce. It’s important to know how to choose the best piece of produce. If it’s fruit, sniff it and see if it smells terrific. If it’s vegetable, give it a slight squeeze to see if it is firm. Be sure to Google each variety of produce you buy to see how to correctly choose the best piece.
Don’t always buy organic. Organic fruits and vegetables are more expensive. The top 12 fruits and vegetables to buy organic are nectarines, celery, pears, peaches, apples, cherries, strawberries, imported grapes, spinach, potatoes, bell peppers, and red raspberries. The least contaminated fruits and vegetables are asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papaya, pineapples, and sweet peas. Be sure to do your research and decide what is the best for your family.
Shop at Aldi. Aldi has a variety of produce at substantial discounts. If you have never shopped at Aldi, I suggest you check it out just for the produce prices! I also find Sprouts to have amazing produce prices as well. Hopefully both of these stores are in your area.
Save on Dairy
The final budget buster that consumes a chunk of your weekly grocery allowance is dairy. By following the money saving tips for milk, you can free up a portion of your grocery budget to be applied towards other necessities.
Cut down on your milk consumption. This one is obvious. Check with your pediatrician to see how much milk they recommend your child have and if you are exceeding that amount cut back. There is a such thing as too much of a good thing.
Check milk prices at gas stations and dollar stores. Surprisingly, milk prices can vary drastically between the grocery stores and the convenience store. I have found milk for $1 less at the gas station than what I pay at my local grocery store.
Shop around. Milk prices will vary store to store. If you have an Aldi, their milk is usually cheaper than the supermarket. I’ve also heard that some Whole Foods has cheaper milk. If you have a membership to Sam’s, Costco, or BJ’s, they usually have their milk priced cheaper than the grocery store.
Check for weekly sales. Sometimes the drug stores, like CVS, Walgreens, etc, will put milk on sale. Check the ad each week to see if it is included in the circular.
Watch the expiration dates. Always try to buy the furthest dated milk, even if it means reaching all the way into the back of the cooler. You never know what the future holds and you might not be able to drink the milk before it expires.
Choose from the back. You should always pick the gallon or container at the back of the shelf. These are not only dated the furthest out, but they also have been exposed to the least amount of light. The more light the milk is exposed to, the quicker it spoils.
Freeze your milk. Milk freezes well. Just take about a cup and a half off the top of the gallon to allow for expansion. Otherwise it can explode in your freezer. That would be a nasty mess to clean up. When you need the milk simply place it in your fridge about a day ahead of time.
Use dry milk. If you don’t consume a lot of milk, purchase dry milk to mix up for your recipes. It has a long shelf life and it is not very expensive.
Watch for milk coupons. Very rarely there is a coupon off a gallon of milk. More often you will find coupons for “Buy (this) and get $1 off a gallon of milk.” Always be on the lookout.
Save on cheese. Instead of buying pre-shredded or pre-sliced cheese, buy a block and take it home and prepare it yourself. Unless the prepackaged cheese is on sale and you have a coupon, you’ll save more by buying a block.
Save on Bread
Bread freezes great, even in it’s original packaging. Toss it straight into the freezer. Place it on the counter to thaw. Just don’t stack bread on top of each other to freeze. Make sure you lay them side by side. Once they are frozen solid you can stack them without squashing the bread.
If you have a discount bread store in your area plan 1-2 visits a month to stock up on your bread needs. Ask your local bread store if there is a certain day or time that they receive deliveries. This would be the best time of the week to visit.
The Dollar Tree is another great place to find discounted bread. I’ve found loaves for 1/3rd of the price of what they sell at other stores. Ask your local Dollar Tree when the bread delivery occurs and plan to be there shortly after it arrives.
Find out all the ways to save with our helpful Savings Bingo!