Budget produce is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for anyone trying to eat right without spending a lot of cash. The food pyramid, and pretty much every nutritional expert in the world, tells us we’re supposed to have five servings of fruits or vegetables a day. But, making this happen on just a few dollars a day can feel impossible. Per pound, fresh fruit can be some of the most expensive food in your supermarket, which makes budget produce shopping seem like a serious challenge. Fresh vegetables are a deal when compared to the price of meat, but when compared to the cost of carbohydrate based foods like pasta, fresh vegetables seem as luxurious as caviar. Luckily, there are plenty of budget produce shopping tactics that will help you get your crucial daily fruit and veg without spending a lot. To get the vitamins you need without ringing up a big bill, try these budget produce shopping tips.
Learn Your Seasons
One of the toughest challenges for anyone trying to master budget produce shopping is seasonal price fluctuation. When a fruit or vegetable is in season and available in large quantities, it costs a lot less than when it is out of season and harder for stores to get. This means that if you can anticipate when a fruit or vegetable will be in season, and for how long, you will be able to plan when you can get it for the lowest possible price, and you will avoid buying it at anything but bottom dollar. This quick rundown of when different vegetables are in season will help you with budget product shopping all through the year.
Summer: Tomatoes, Corn, Lettuce.
Fall: Beans, Broccoli, Leafy Greens (kale, leeks).
Winter: Leafy greens (leeks, cabbage), Squash, Root Vegetables (carrots, yams).
Spring: Root Vegetables (carrots, beets), Peas, Asparagus, Everything!
Bananas are much less expensive than most fresh fruit, and that holds true year-round, which makes them a great addition to any budget produce shopping list. Because bananas are mostly imported from warm climates where they are grown through all four seasons, they are always readily available, and that means that grocers can make money without having to raise the prices high. Bananas cost about thirty cents apiece, based on the prices at large grocery chains, and that’s a truly great deal for fresh fruit, especially when pears and peaches can cost more like a dollar, and exotic fruits can cost six or seven dollars. Bananas are a budget produce shopping staple. They make a great snack on their own, but can also serve to jazz up a bowl of cereal, and everyone knows that bananas work well as a way to turn a scoop of ice cream into a full, luxurious dessert! Because they’re versatile in the kitchen and reliably cheap, bananas are great budget produce shopping items.
Try The Freezer
Budget produce shopping doesn’t have to stay in the fresh produce aisle. Some of the best fruit and vegetable deals are to be found in the freezer section. Frozen veggies like broccoli, beans, and snow peas make cooking a snap, and are easy on your pocketbook. Plus, frozen fruits like sliced strawberries and peaches are cheap year round, which is great for budget produce shopping. One problem with making fresh veggies and fruits part of your budget produce shopping plan is that buying in bulk lowers prices, but produce spoils quickly, so you have to buy smaller portions and pay more for them. With frozen food, you can buy in bulk, use what you need, and store the rest for another day without having to worry about it going bad. Successful budget produce shopping means reducing waste, and adding frozen veggies and fruits to your kitchen is a great way to get started.