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9 Simple Ways to Save on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

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We’ve heard from many of you that the produce department is often the hardest place to save on your grocery bill and we definitely agree!  Fruit snack coupons are plentiful, but actual fruit coupons are harder to come by. That being said, check out this list we put together of a few simple ways you can save money on your fresh fruits and vegetables!

1.) Start your own home garden.

(Green Onions after 1 day in water, Lettuce after 2 days in water)

There’s nothing better than growing and picking fresh, homegrown fruits and veggies! If you’re new to gardening, consider starting with easy to grow seeds (like cucumbers or peas). You can also place vegetable scraps that can easily grow in water by a window, such as green onions, lettuce, or celery.

We tried this and it REALLY does work!

Grow Green Onions in Water

    • Keep the white part of the onion with any intact roots, and place it into a small glass with water. After a few days, green shoots will start to emerge from the tops of the bulbs. After that, they’ll grow very quickly. You can keep them in water for a while, but they will do best when transplanted to a pot with soil before they start to weaken.

Regrow Romaine Lettuce from a Stem

      • Cut off the bottom from the head of lettuce and place it in a bowl of water near a window with sunlight. Replace the water every 1-2 days. Within a few days, you’ll have small leaves sprouting up. With this method, you will not regrow a full-sized head of lettuce, but you can enjoy the smaller leaves on a sandwich or in a personal-size salad.

Regrow Celery from Stalks

    • Slice about 2″ from the root end of a bunch of celery and place it in a shallow bowl of water. Place the bowl near a window with sunlight. After a few days, you should start seeing small leaves emerging from the very center of the top. In about a week, you may see small stalks and leaves. Plant the celery in potting soil or directly into your garden.

Also, growing herbs indoors for fresh year-round use is easy, and fun to incorporate in cooking (check out our Stacked Herb Garden idea). Or, if you have the space in your backyard, using a Raised Garden Bed is an easy and affordable way to set up your home garden  – and you can do it in under an hour! These garden beds are low-maintenance, weather resistant, and will not rot, crack, or peel.

Hip Tip – Be sure to watch our posts for possible free seed packet offers from various companies, such as TastyBite, Cheerios, La Victoria, and others.

2.) Join a community garden.

Have a green thumb but don’t have space to grow a garden? Consider purchasing a plot in a community garden in your area where you can conveniently grow your own produce. As an idea, there are two community gardens in my area with plots ranging in price from $12-$20 per year for residents – and they even include water and a rain harvesting cistern (garden plot prices will vary by region).

3.) Shop locally or at farmers markets.

While farmers markets can vary greatly in regards to availability and pricing, you can often get really good deals. Just visit near the end of the market, when a seller is more likely to lower prices to get rid of remaining items.

View this map to find a local farmers market.

Also, if you live near a Sprouts Farmers Market, they offer fantastic weekly sales on produce, especially on Wednesdays when their weekly sale ads overlap (you score deals from BOTH ads)! As an idea, during a recent sale at my local Sprouts, I was able to score organic Gala apples for $0.98/lb, cantaloupe melons for $0.98 each, 2lbs Roma tomatoes for $1, and fresh pineapples for $0.98 each!

4.) Consider a food co-op or CSA.

Let garden weeds be someone else’s problem!

If you’re lacking in gardening skills, or don’t have space (or energy) to grow fresh foods yourself, food co-ops and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Groups are a great way for you to purchase produce from area farmers.

    • Community Supported Agriculture: Under this model, a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of produce, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (“membership” or “subscription”) and in turn receive a box (or bag/basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
Find a local CSA near you. You can also try searching “community supported agriculture” or “CSA” plus your city/state.
    • Food co-ops: Food cooperatives are worker- or customer-owned businesses that provide high-quality grocery items to their members, usually for good prices. Co-ops can take the shape of buying clubs or even retail stores. Food co-ops are committed to consumer education, product quality, and member control, and they usually support their local communities by selling produce grown locally by family farms.
Check Local Harvest or this co-op directory to find a food co-op near you.

5.) Pick your own produce.

No farmers market nearby?

Check for local farms where you can pick your own fruits and vegetables. It takes less time than growing your own, and you can still get better deals than at a grocery store. Plus, it makes for a great family-friendly activity!

To find a local farm that offers the option to pick your own produce, search your city and state here to view your options (call ahead to confirm the hours of operation before you head out). Note that depending on the time of year, the farms in your area will offer different fruits and vegetables. If you prefer to pick a specific fruit/veggie, call ahead to confirm that this item is in season.

Before you go, ask about the cost in advance and available methods of payment, since many farms only take cash or checks. Don’t forget to dress appropriately and bring sunscreen, bug spray, bags, and plenty of water to drink! You may also want to bring a wagon (if you have one) to hold kids and produce.

6.) Only buy what’s in season.

You already know that seasonal food is fresher, tastier, and more nutritious than produce consumed out of season. Did you also know it’s also cheaper, since it’s most plentiful?

For the best flavors and dollar savings, buy fresh fruits and vegetables when they can be purchased directly from a local grower shortly after harvest. Use this cool Season Food Guide to find out what’s in season right now where you live.

Crops picked at their peak of ripeness are better tasting (unlike out of season produce, which is harvested early for shipping and distribution to retail stores). Plus, studies have suggested that fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients when allowed to ripen naturally on their parent plant, making it softer and sweeter!

7.) Use coupons and cash back apps.

A great way to save on produce is to keep an eye out for ALL printable coupons for fruits and vegetables. Print them as soon as they pop up, since they’re rare and never last long!

Where to find produce manufacturer’s coupons:

  • $0.50/1 Driscoll’s Berries (sign up for Rewards club)
  • Peelie coupons found on other products (i.e. – save on bananas when you buy Vanilla Wafers)
  • Coupons on “quick-sale” packages close to expiration
  • Coupons.com
  • Hopster.com
  • OrganicGirl.com (sign up for emails to receive occasional emails with coupons)
  • Fresh Express (sign up for emails to receive occasional emails with coupons)
  • Earthbound Farm (sign up for emails to receive occasional emails with coupons)

Produce store coupons:

Cash back rebates on fruits and vegetables:

  • Makeena app – get cash back offers on fresh organic fruits and vegetables!
  • Ibotta app – get cash back on groceries purchased at select stores – including fresh produce!
  • Checkout51 app – get cash back on produce purchased at ANY grocery store!
  • SavingStar – get cash back on fresh produce, like bananas.

*NOTE – If Ibotta and Checkout51 both have offers for bananas, be sure to submit for both rebates!

8.) Shop at discount grocery stores.

If you have a discount grocery store nearby, such as ALDI or Grocery Outlet, you can usually find great deals on produce if you keep your eyes peeled. For instance, at ALDI, you may be able to find fruits and vegetables on a BOGO sale (buy one, get one free) whenever they’re about to remove them from the shelves. Just be sure to examine the packaging and produce items closely to ensure they’re good quality.

And, if you end up buying a product from ALDI and not liking it, not only will they replace your product, they’ll also refund you the money for that purchase as part of their double product guarantee!

9.) Weigh pre-bagged produce.

Seems silly, but it adds up…

To get the most bang for your buck, be sure to use the produce scale to weigh the bags of produce you plan to buy (apples, potatoes, etc). For instance, a 5-pound bag of apples actually may weigh more than 5-pounds since it is packaged by volume and not necessarily weight. Producers won’t put half an apple in the bag to get it to reach at least 5-pounds, so you may save a little by purchasing a bag, rather than choosing individual items and paying by the pound.

Also, produce in the refrigerated section is often sprayed with an occasional mist of water. This may seem trivial, but that water can accumulate and weigh down your produce. Gently shake off your fresh veggies before placing them on the scale to save a bit at the register.

Written by Mary for Hip2Save. Mary is a proud mom to 3 kids in Austin, TX, who thrives off Jesus, running long distance, bargain shopping, warm Texas weather, a yummy latte…and a little Candy Crush from time to time. She also loves quality time with family & friends and sharing great deals with others.

Mary is a senior copywriter with 9+ years in frugal tips & deals. She has a Bachelors in Human Resources Interdisciplinary Studies. Connect with Mary on LinkedIn

Join The Discussion

Comments 33

  1. Amy

    Why is the water blue and red? Was this a kid friendly experiment?!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      That is part of the cup – they are different colors on the bottom. Sorry – it’s a little confusing. 🙂

  2. PrincessMom

    Be careful about the pick your own option. Around here, it’s more expensive than buying in the store because it’s trendy and people (including tourists) will pay $$ to go play on a farm for a few hours.

    • Lana

      It is the same here. Tourist buses are a sure sign that you will pay too much.

    • amy111

      Maybe check at the end of the season when they want to get rid of the extra? The last time I took my son and his friends to the pumpkin patch, we left with a trunk full of large pumpkins under $10!

  3. coulter

    One of your hints about excess water weigh reminded me of an episode i saw of Worlds Biggest Cheapskates or something or other. The guy picked all his grapes off the stems to not pay for the extra weight !! HA !!

    • Mika

      LOL. That’s too funny. Whenever I buy cabbage I pick off the outer leaves that are dirty and that I would just throw out before I cook it anyway. It’s usually only like two leaves so it probably doesn’t make a difference, but I still do it.

      • Suzanne H

        I do the same with cabbage. LOL I also pull grapes out of the bag and shake them – any that fall off go back and I pick off any bad, squishy ones too. I get some looks and I used to be too embarrassed but now I don’t care. Grapes are too darned expensive to end up throwing out 1/4 of the bag as soon as you get them home!

  4. Josie

    This is an awesome post. When I buy green onions I use what I need, then plant the rest in good potted soil. You can even cut off the tops, then plant about 2 to 3 inches of the root and stem.

    One of my local stores has discounts on fruits and vegetables that are getting older and I look for ways to use those.

    We also have several dwarf fruit trees that are very productive. I swap produce with my neighbors that grow things that we don’t. I also do a lot of canning with all the surplus.

  5. Kris

    I had bought a tomato one time and left it sitting on the counter and forgot about it. When I finally remembered, it wasn’t rotten but it was all bumpy. I thought it was weird so I cut it open only to find out that the seeds inside had started sprouting! So I deseeded the tomato, rinsed off the sprouts and planted them. I ended up with a bunch of huge tomato plants and a ton of great tomatoes! All because I’m forgetful 😜

    • Dee

      That is so awesome!! I’m so forgetful too… here’s to hoping it happens to me 😀

  6. Kelly

    I buy my berries when super cheap plus use Driscoll’s coupons combined with the sale to make them very cheap or free. I wash, dry, and lay out on cookie sheets to freeze. Then I bag them up and have several big Ziploc bags in the freezer for throughout winter. They’re great to toss in my kids too-hot oatmeal in the mornings.

    • Becky

      We do exactly the same thing! My 2 year old’s breakfast every morning is “oatmeal blueberries”!

    • Kathy

      Same thing here!! We also make strawberry jelly when strawberries are free or cheap. Taught my late elementary kiddos how to do the surveys. Super helpful!

    • Justine

      Good tip, thank you!

  7. Kerry

    Well luckily I live in the Garden State, NJ. For seasonal produce, we have many local farms in our area that have a stand to purchase. During winter months we have produce stores that buy seasonal produce from local farms as well as local ports of Southern NJ, Philly, and Delaware. Fortunately, I am not forced to buy exclusively from the grocery stores, which usually are more expensive. For example I can buy a large bag of lemons for $1.75, but that same bag in grocery store is $7.00. I make a special trip to the produce store and stock up. It is in my local area, so no problems. The funny thing is that the grocery store gets their produce from the same ports as this smaller store, and the larger store charges way more. Worth the extra trip for me, so we can eat healthier at a lower cost. I love the tips on growing produce. I will have to try those tips!

  8. Jen D

    Love this post! And I LOVE Sprouts grocery store. They have awesome deals in the bulk bins too not just produce but their product prices are the best. Another tip I have is don’t be afraid to only buy what you need. For instance ginger, I will break off a small nub instead of buying the whole big root that’s just going to be wasted. Or bananas, I’ll sometimes break up a bunch into just a few.

    • Mindy

      For ginger, I store it in the freezer. When I need some for a recipe, I take it out, peel it and grate what I need while frozen. It’s actually easier to peel this way and you can stick what is left back in your freezer.

  9. Jennifer B.

    The Driscoll’s Berries program can result in $1.00 off coupons. You just need to enter many reviews, but with the number of berry packages we go through each season, it isn’t a problem for us. The coupons begin at 50 cents, then go up to 75 cents when you reach “silver” status and finally get to $1.00 off! So worth it!

  10. Justine

    Growing green onions in a glass works! I’ve tried it and love it – now if I could just keep my darn cats from messing with them!

  11. Myrah

    I go to dollar tree and purchase seeds for 4/$1. I LOVE having my own garden during spring and summer. I use homemade compost for fertilizer and unfortunately I do weed my garden once a week. Then in fall, I plant certain vegetables and herbs in planters and put them in my sun room. It’s so cheap and since I am growing it myself, I know that it is truly organic. I do want to try the stacked herb garden though. That will save me room.

    • Kris

      It may be grown organically but the seeds are not unless you are buying organic seeds. I doubt they are from the dollar tree

  12. Casey

    Great post! I am a huge buyer of produce and I have learned the best way to save money is to eat what is in season. We have a huge open air market where you can get great prices and I also love Aldi, especially since ours now refrigerates its produce. I also plant a huge garden in the summer and can my own tomato sauce and beans.

  13. Neysha

    Don’t forget to forage and look for free produce. Crab apples make wonderful applesauce. Sometimes home gardeners or market gardeners look for somewhere for the duds to go. Glean where you can. Happy saving!

  14. luna

    We saved a lot of money by growing tomatoes in our new home backyard last year but the slugs ruined rest of the vegetables. By the time we figured out how to get rid of them the season was over. So this time hopefully! Being a vegetarian such posts help me a lot! Love to read the h2s comments section too learn a lot every day! 🙏

    • Kris

      How did you get rid of them? We had slugs in our garden last year.

    • Diana

      Vine borers get my squash every year. No way to get rid of them easily. I just gave up on growing squash.

      • Sa

        Same here, stupid vine borer beetles. Every year. Someone suggested moving garden plot to new location, but I don’t want to do that.

  15. Diana

    Id love to grow stuff inside but my cats would eat it. They even chew on my fake plant. Sigh. 😔

  16. Luda

    I love our CSA. Fresh, local, most of it organically grown, I don’t know how I would do without. It doesn’t cost more than paying for vegetables at the store. It forces us to eat vegetables we never would buy otherwise. It tastes so much better. Give it a try!

  17. Mc

    I was glad to see Aldi in this post. I can’t recommend Aldi enough. Since we got one, I always have almost more fruits and vegetables than we can eat. Fruits and vegetables are my main purchase with Aldi and I get such great prices on their weekly produce specials.

  18. Roxy

    My tip: look for International Markets, like Asian or Hispanic. They have great selection of produce and low prices.

  19. DJ

    This is one of the most helpful posts I’ve come across. Giving is great, but teaching individuals and families how to feed themselves and possibly their community, is a blessing. I am thrilled with this post! 😊

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