Tips to Buy Produce and Crunch Your Way to Savings
When you buy produce, you’ll be doing yourself, your waistline, your health, and the economy a favor. Everyone loves crunching on brightly colored vegetables and fruits!
To get more bang for your bananas, you need to know what to look for. There are tell-tell signs that will keep you from wasting your money on items that are not worthy of consumption and making costly produce mistakes!
Many people just grab any old thing when they shop for groceries. They pick up the first thing they see and move on. Typically, I spend more time in the produce section of a store, than in any other section. Why? Because being choosy about your food is what saving money is all about. Discerning divas want their produce to be fresh and full of nutrients! Don't you?
Have you ever gotten out produce you just bought, just to discover that it wasn’t fit for a criminal? That really sucks! After all, you took the time to go shopping, paid for the items, and planned to have them during the week.
Simply taking a few extra minutes when you buy produce can save you tons of time and money later on! However, it’s evident that some people just don’t know what to look for. My mom was a very smart shopper and showed me what to look for at an early age. And of course, I always paid attention. Even as the market changes, those older 'rules to buy produce' still hold true. Incorporate these cost saving ideas to make your meals worthy of your time!
Tips to Buy Produce and Save
Choose to buy produce that’s in season. It’s healthier, fresher, and less costly. You pay a high price to buy melons in the winter, for example. Wait until they are plentiful on the vine before you grab your next cantaloupe.
Organic produce costs are varied. If you can buy them without parting with an arm or leg, do so. These products are grown in economically friendlier environments and are much higher in nutrients! If you don't buy organic, your produce may be genetically modified, which can hinder your health. Maybe your budget doesn't allow for organics all the time but it's still a good idea to buy organic when you can.
Want to know if your produce is GMO? Check this page.
Look at what you’re buying. Check the packaging and move the products around to see what’s inside. Many times packaging colors are used to mask the truth.
As a general rule, harder and firmer are always better:o)
When you only use part of an item (such as head lettuce or cabbage), don’t remove the core from the part you don't use. Produce keeps much more flavor and freshness when you keep the core until you’re through using it.
Take produce out of bags that you buy them in, especially items like cucumbers and corn. Leave them free standing in the produce bin of your frig. They'll last much longer that way.
To save money on produce, store fresh berries in their original containers and only take one serving at a time. Better move fast though. Berries especially, mold very quickly after you’ve opened them.
Optionally, you can try preserving them longer using the technique outlined on this page.
Buy produce in bulk, especially if you're into juicing. Buying in bulk also makes sense if you eat a lot of raw foods. Lots of vegetables and fruits will keep fresh for weeks if carefully chosen. If you’re not going to eat them though, only buy what you’ll use.
Smaller is better on many items. If you want to cut back on the amount of stuff you throw away, buy produce that's smaller in size. Larger pieces of produce can be pithy or have large seeds. They are generally older too, so they won’t last as long. Opt for medium to small sized items. They are sweeter, tastier, and have more nutrients than older produce.
Check for molding on citrus fruit. If you see a white color on the outside of these fruits, don’t buy them. They are older and mold has already begun to form.
Many people shy away from items that have wax added to preserve them. Problem is, that the wax actually also helps retain the produce longer and saves the nutrients. Simply wash them with warm soapy water before you use them or cut the wax away. You’ll find that what’s under the wax is perfectly edible and fresh.
Do remember that some wax won’t hurt you, but items that have heavy wax like cucumbers, are not meant to be eaten. (nor enjoyed.) Wax has no nutritional value, so ditch it.
If you buy bags of produce but don't use all of them, you're wasting money.
When you can, always buy produce from local farmers. Local is always fresher than produce that’s sent in from other states or countries. If you don't have a farmers market in your community, check out the local grocery stores. They usually get their produce from local vendors.
Check the cores of all products that contain them. They will tell you a story about freshness, especially if there's a stem. Look for black areas around the core and wiggle the stem. If the stem hold firmly in place and there aren't any black areas, the produce is fresher.
Shop around and look for sales. If you love Fuji apples but can’t find them in your regular grocery store, look elsewhere. If you’ll consume them, it’s worth the extra time and gas to find them.
On vegetables and fruits that have thin skin, keep them there, don’t peel them away. The skin of most produce contains most of the vitamins. (carrots, squash, potatoes, apples, etc.)
If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, settle for something else. You may not be able to find Granny Smith apples, but Braeburn and Gala apples are a good substitute.
So you run to the store to buy produce, and find that they have watermelon already cut up, ready to eat. You think "Wow! That'll save me a ton of time in the kitchen". Don't do it. These items cost much more to buy than if you prepare them yourself.
Many people forget about stir frying when they buy produce. It's a great healthy alternative instead of using conventional methods.
Don’t buy stuff you or your family won’t eat. You may see a great deal on Butternut squash, but if you or your family won’t eat it, you're wasting money.
If something doesn’t look good, don’t buy it. I saw a girlfriend in the grocery a few years back. She was buying some unsightly broccoli. When I asked her about it, she retorted that she 'had to get broccoli' for her husband. I didn’t say anything but I wouldn’t have been caught dead buying what she bought. (Never mind eating it or actually serving it to my family!) If you're caught in a pinch and something doesn't look good, head over to the frozen isle instead.
Never buy fruit that's missing the stem. These will go bad very quickly.
Try getting used to buying items that are on sale. So maybe you had your heart set on fresh pineapple, but you find that pineapple has increased in price by $1 and mangoes are on sale. You’ve got two choices. Purchase the pineapple and satiate your taste buds (and have to cut back on other items) or buy the mangoes. You’ll be surprised at how you can negotiate with yourself when you need to!
If the fruit in the produce section is lacking, don’t forget about dried fruit. Raisins, dates, prunes, apricots, and other dried fruits make great snacks.
Salad's that are pre-packaged in a bag are full of preservatives and additives. It’s how they're kept fresh! It’s much healthier to make your own.
Don’t forget that you can buy fruit in it’s own juice in a can. Do remember however, that frozen veggies hold more nutrients than the canned versions.
Take your time when you buy produce. Remember, it's your money and your energy you're using.
If you find something is bad when you get home, keep it, but return it the next week when you shop. Sure it's a pain to do this, but when you get your cash back, you'll have a smile on your face.
Keep these tips to buy produce in mind next time you go shopping. You'll reap the benefits time and time again if you just slow down and look carefully! Makes perfect sense to me!
Related Pages on This Site
Growing a Garden - A Homegrown Green Solution
How to Save Money on Groceries and Eat Better
Storing Food – How to Keep Food Fresher Longer
Stockpiling - Building Supplies for Emergencies
Healthy Vegetables - Buying Guide and Serving Suggestions
Healthy Snacks to Whip Up in a Zip!
Eating Bugs as Food – Could Insects be Your Next Major Source of Protein?
5 Edible Weeds You Can Sink Your Teeth Into
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