5 Use Filler
Fill in your produce list with less-expensive items to save money and still eat healthy. When making your berry smoothie in the morning, add a handful of spinach or kale to fill out the drink, add nutrients and reduce the cost. Green peppers are far less expensive than red and yellow bell peppers. Use more of the cheaper peppers in your next fajita or stir-fry with just a few of the bright reds and yellows for color.
4 Grow Your Own
Although the initial investment in gardening can be high, once you get things up and running, growing your own can be one of the cheapest ways to deliver fresh produce to your kitchen table. Home gardening is a long-honored tradition that gives everyone the chance to get dirty and sweaty for a good cause. Start slowly with produce that you like a lot, so you’re not stuck with dozens of zucchinis when you hate zucchinis. Team up with neighbors to find takers for your heirloom tomatoes and string beans. Plant the seeds from your leftover fruits and veggies to save money on startup costs the next year.
3 Buy Frozen
Although it might seem contradictory to advise buying fresh, then advocate for frozen, but there is some logic here. If you can, buy produce in season and locally, but if you can’t, get the frozen stuff—which is cheaper. According to WebMD, frozen produce locks in the nutrients fresh from the farm. As long as you get the stuff without tons of added sugar and salt, frozen or canned produce can be a great way to stretch the produce budget.
2 Buy Local
Get closer to the source of the food you buy. Shop at farmers’ markets and food co-ops, and sign up for community-supported agriculture and produce-delivery services to help cut the cost of your produce. You’ll be paying fewer people to move your grub and fewer gallons of gas will be used to truck it around the countryside. When you browse through your farmers’ market, it might seem as if produce is more expensive than at the local grocery store, but keep in mind that the food will last much longer because it’s fresh. Also, hit up the farmers at the end of the day, when they don’t want to truck the unsold produce back to the farm. They might cut you a deal.
1 Buy In Season
Honeycrisp apples are delicious, crunchy, sweet jewels of autumn that sing songs of triumph in your mouth. But by the time mid-summer rolls around, these apples can be two or three times more expensive than they are in the fall. Enjoy the produce when it’s growing and pass on it when it’s out of season to save some serious money. Or transition to other varieties that are easier to store and transport. For example, you can eat Fuji apples all year long.