9 of the Best Ways to Save on Fresh Produce
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Save money on fresh produce at the grocery store!
We all know that the fresh produce department is often the hardest place to save on your grocery bill. Fruit snack coupons are plentiful, but actual fruit coupons are harder to come by. That being said, check out our simple tips below for ways that you can save money on fresh fruits and vegetables!
1. Start your own home garden.
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 a couple of these methods and they REALLY do work!
- 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.
- That’s right! Just 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.
- 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 – Want to give gardening a shot? Select libraries have packages of seeds that you can score FREE with your library card! You can also snag four packets of seeds for $1 at Dollar Tree during gardening season.
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.
Hip Tip: View this map to find a local farmers market near you.
Also, if you live near a Sprout’s 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.
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:
- Fresh Express (sign up for emails to receive occasional emails with coupons)
- Earthbound Farm
- Driscoll’s Berries (sign up for Rewards club for occasional coupons)
- Del Monte
- Peelie coupons found on other products (i.e. – save on bananas when you buy Vanilla Wafers)
- Coupons on “quick-sale” packages close to expiration
Produce store coupons:
- Target Circle – you can often find offers for fresh produce at Target
- Target store coupons
- Whole Foods Market digital coupons – in the past they’ve offered $5 off $25 fresh produce coupons. Plus, Amazon Prime members can save an additional 10% off sale items at checkout!
- Kroger/Safeway/Ralphs/Sprout’s Farmer’s Market apps – be sure to check your store apps for savings on produce
Cash back rebates on fruits and vegetables:
- Ibotta app – get cash back on groceries purchased at select stores – including fresh produce!
- Fetch Rewards app – earn points for any grocery purchase!
- Checkout51 app – get cash back on produce purchased at ANY grocery store!
- SavingStar – get cash back on fresh produce, like bananas.
- Makeena app – get cash back offers on fresh organic fruits and vegetables!
Hip Tip: If Ibotta and Checkout51 both have offers for bananas, be sure to submit for both rebates! Then, submit your receipt in the Fetch Reward app to earn points toward rewards! You can really stack the savings when you do this!
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.