How to Save Money on Produce
Learn how to save money on produce by following the 21 simple tips below. You can significantly slash your grocery budget by saving money on fruits and vegetables!
21 Simple Ways to Save a Ton of Money on Produce
Produce can be some of the most expensive foods you can buy. One time we did a fruit and veggie fast for a month (where we ate only fruits and vegetables for the bulk of the month), and it was the most expensive grocery bill we’ve ever had. But there are also lots of things that you can do save money on produce.
As with most things, to save more money on fruits and vegetables, know before you go. Know what produce is in season when. Know what is a good price for the produce that you buy. Know the best places to get the best deals. This article will teach you how.
1. Buy produce that is in season.
One of the best ways to save money on produce is to buy it in season. Though we would love to eat fresh blueberries and raspberries and strawberries and avocados and other produce year round, most of the time (nearly all of the time) it’s just not worth it to us to pay the extra money it costs. Find the fruits and vegetables that are in season in your area here. Instead, give your wallet a break and your savings a boost by enjoying the produce that is in season.
2. Buy produce that is on sale.
As you should with all of your food purchases, try to plan your produce purchases around what is on sale. As you make your weekly (or biweekly) shopping list, look at the weekly grocery ads for the store or stores you shop at, and then plan your meals as much as possible around the best grocery deals that you find.
One of the best ways to save money on fruits and vegetables, and on food in general, is to get most of your purchases at sales prices, and then supplement with other needed or desired items.
To save the most money, use a meal planner so that you can plan dishes that incorporate the foods that you have on hand (before they go bad) and that are at the best sales prices for those that you need to buy.
Sign up for the free printable meal planner below so that you can easily plan your meals! Find simple instructions for how to effectively plan your meals for one or two weeks, ideas for how to choose your meals, and info for how to prepare for contingencies when your original meal plan won’t work (so that you don’t feel tempted to run to the store for a quick premade meal or get fast food).
Get your free weekly meal planner with shopping list emailed right to you by signing up below!
3. Stock up when you find a great deal on produce, and freeze, dehydrate, or bottle what you won’t use before it goes bad.
When you find a particularly great deal on a fruit or vegetable your family really likes, stock up on it! Figure out how much you can eat in the week or two that it will last in your fridge, and then plan to freeze, dehydrate, or even bottle the rest.
Many fruits and vegetables freeze very well. For best texture and flavor, you can freeze fruit for about 12 months and vegetables for about 18 months. You can find a guide for freezing fresh produce here.
Another way that we love to preserve fruits and some vegetables is with our dehydrator. We have a couple of fruit trees and we also occasionally get great deals on produce from the local discount store (like $5 for a box of apples or bananas), and the kids like to eat the dried fruit like candy. (And so do we. :))
4. Compare the unit price to make sure you are comparing . . . apples to apples. 🙂
Sorry, I know that was a bad pun. But comparing the unit price is so important if you want to make sure you are actually getting a good deal on your food purchases!
By comparing prices regularly, you will be able to know when something is at a rock-bottom price and stock up on it. You will also be able to tell what items are the best deal in a particular category, such as meat, produce, dairy, and so forth. For example, you can learn what cuts and types of of meat are generally the best value, what produce is the most economical, and what dairy products give the best bang for your grocery buck.
By comparing costs on the items you buy most often, you will be able to save a ton of money on produce, and all groceries, over time.
Get a printable download of the grocery item price per unit cheat sheet by signing up below! From now on, you won’t have to wonder if something is actually a great price or not. From now on, you will know!
5. Shop at a discount store.
If you have a discount or salvage store in your area, you’ve got to take advantage of it! The prices are just amazing on some items!
At our local salvage store we are able to routinely find red delicious apples for 5 pounds for a dollar, and sometimes Gala apples and Granny Smith apples are that price, as well. Sometimes we can get whole boxes of apples and bananas for $5. Strawberries are sometimes 10 or 25 cents a pound. Blueberries are sometimes 25 cents for the small container (that you normally pay $3 or $4 for regular price). Grapes and cherries are sometimes 50 cents a pound. One time I got 10 pounds of carrots for a dollar. Green peppers are often 33 cents each and onions are often 25 cents a pound.
In some cases some of these items are close to being overripe or sometimes some of them are overripe, but at such great prices, even if some of the fruit is bad and has to be thrown out (or composted, which is what we do with it), it’s still a steal of a deal.
59 Must-Know Tips to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half!
7 Simple Steps to Use a Meal Plan to Save Money on Groceries
How to Use a Grocery Price Comparison Cheat Sheet to Save (a Ton of!) Money!
19 Top Tips to Save Money Eating Out
Eat Free for Your Birthday!
12 Best Tips to Save Money on Entertainment
31 Budget-Friendly Easy and Cheap Dinner Recipes for $5 or Less
42 Cheap and Easy Meals for under $5
6. Buy smaller items when buying by the pound.
When buying fruits or vegetables by the pound, consider buying smaller pieces. If buying apples or oranges, for example, buy the smaller ones. You’re likely going to eat one piece no matter the size, so you save money by purchasing the smaller fruits. Especially if you have young kiddos, as we do, buying smaller pieces of fruit and vegetables is a good idea so that the food is less likely to get wasted.
7. Buy the largest items when buying by the piece.
On the other hand, when buying at a certain price per item, as long as the food won’t go to waste, buy the largest pieces you can find. So, for example, when they are sold by the piece, by the largest avocados, mangoes, oranges, onions, peppers, broccoli bunches, and so on that you can find.
8. Weigh your produce.
When you buy prepackaged produce such as a five-pound bag of apples or oranges or a bag of carrots or potatoes, take a minute to weigh them. The bags are supposed to weigh at least the amount indicated, but because each piece of fruit or vegetable is different, some bags will weigh more than others. You could get 10% more produce (or more!) by weighing the bags and getting the one that weighs the most.
9. Buy dry produce.
To save a little bit of money, buy produce that is dry. Wet produce weighs more (and therefore costs more).
10. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables (especially when the fresh produce equivalent is out of season).
Particularly when a fruit or vegetable is not in season, you can save money by buying it frozen. You will generally save the most money by buying fresh fruit that is in season, but if you want fruit that is out of season, then check to see if the frozen price is better.
Generally, frozen food does not lose much of its nutritional value, so this is a good way to go.
11. Shop at farmer’s markets.
If you have a local farmer’s market in your area, you may be able to find great deals. But be careful! Farmer’s market prices are not always less expensive than what you would pay at the grocery store. Again, that’s why it is so important to know the cost of the items that you buy.
If you didn’t do so already, sign up above to download the grocery price per unit comparison cheat sheet so that you can track and know what the best prices are for the produce and other foods that you regularly buy.
12. Participate in a community garden.
If you have the opportunity to participate in a community garden, this could be a great way to get produce for a great price. If you don’t know if you have a community garden in your area, Google it to find out.
13. Look into grocery co-ops in your area.
Food co-ops such as Bountiful Baskets can be a good way to get produce and other food at a good price. We have not personally participated in one, but I have family members who love them.
14. Perk up wilted vegetables instead of throwing them out.
Don’t throw out your spinach, lettuce, or other vegetables if they get wilted! You can perk them up by putting them in ice water for about 30 minutes.
15. Store fruits and vegetables in their ideal conditions so that they will last longer.
Look up online how to best store the produce that you regularly eat so that it will last longer. For example, though the peels will turn black, bananas will last longer (possibly even up to a couple of weeks longer), if you store them in the fridge. If you don’t want to or don’t have space to store them in the fridge, then keep them out of direct sunlight and hang them up if possible.
16. Use older vegetables in stews and soups.
Instead of throwing them away, use vegetables that are past their prime in stews, soups, broths, chilis, and so on.
17. Grow a garden (if you have time and a green thumb).
If you have the space and the inclination, growing a garden is an excellent way to not only save money but become more self-sufficient. Or it can be once you get good at it, at least.
18. Ditch the fruit juice.
I was a little crushed several years ago when I learned that fruit juice, unless it’s freshly squeezed and doesn’t have added sugar, isn’t actually very good for you. It’s especially not something you want your children to be consuming in high quantities. Treat it like soda—a rare treat—and eat whole, fresh fruit instead. It’s better for your wallet as well as better for your body.
19. Use fresh produce first before it goes bad.
Be sure to use fresh food first before it spoils. So plan your meals with fresh produce and meats and so forth earlier in the week (or in the first week if you shop for two weeks at a time, as we do), and then use frozen, canned, and dehydrated produce and frozen meats later in the week (or in the second week).
I mentioned it above, but it’s worth repeating—the fewer times you go to the (grocery) store, the less money you’ll spend, so give shopping only every other week a try! Your wallet (and quite possibly your waistline) will thank you!
20. Take advantage of coupons for prepackaged salads and similar items.
There are not generally a lot of coupons for fresh produce that is sold as individual, whole items, but you can find coupons for prepackaged salads and similar items. Some stores honor competitors’ coupons, so that could be another great way to save money on your produce.
21. Use price matching if it is available in your area.
Price matching works for all groceries, not just produce, but it can make a big difference when it comes to how much you spend on your fruits and vegetables! If you have a store in your area that offers price matching be sure to take advantage of it!
By following the simple steps above, you can save a lot of money on your produce! Remember to buy produce in season and to buy it on sale whenever possible. Use a meal planner and a grocery price comparison cheat sheet. And follow the other tips above. Then you can spend that money that you saved on other things that will help you reach your financial goals.
For more information on how to slash your grocery budget, read 59 Must-Know Tips to Slash Your Grocery Budget in Half.
How do you save money on produce? What are your best tips and tricks? What did I neglect to include? I would love to hear your ideas! Leave a comment below and let me know!
Invitation to Share
Was there something in this article that inspired you to change something about your money? Are there ideas or tips that you feel could help others? Would you please take a minute to share this article via email or social media? I would love your help to share these principles of financial well-being. Thank you!
Join our closed Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group to get support and share ideas for how we can all improve our financial well-being by earning more, spending less, saving more, and investing more and reach our financial goals. You can do this! And we are here to help.