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Need some ways to save money on produce?
I know I surely did. Kids can seriously plow through some food!
I’m not complaining…just phew, it took me a little time to realize and accept this fact.
Over the last 10 years of mommyhood I have come to learn a trick or two to keep bellies happy, bodies healthy, and food consumed and not wasted.
With now seven kids, varying in age from 11 years to a six month old, we try to keep a pretty well stocked pantry and produce area.
After moving into the trailer now over 2 years ago (see our story here), what once worked for my shopping habits had to be altered once again. I had to learn a new slew of ways to save money…truly.
Now, however, I feel like I finally have a handle on what works for us that does not require making 85 trips to the store a month. My goal is never to shop more than once a week, and I work to reduce that to even once every two weeks if I can make it happen.
5 Proven Ways to Save Money on Produce
First, I want to make sure we are on the same page.
To me, produce is anything that comes out of the ground and grows from a plant. I’ve heard people focus only on fruits, or vegetables, for produce, but I will be talking about the whole shah-bang (yes…shah-bang).
Now, without further adieu, I give you my 5 proven ways to save money on produce.
1. Shop with a Plan
Ever since I stopped working out of the home and focused on my work within the home, I have been learning how to shop for and cook food to save money in our budget, whatever amount that might have been.
I’m not perfect at it, but I can usually keep our costs to where we need them when and if I have made a prior meal plan.
I really cannot shop without a meal plan. I never know why I need certain foods, which increases the chances that I will need to make a whole additional trip (or two…or three) each week to get the necessary ingredients.
Not only is this a waste of my time, it is often also a waste of our finances. Additionally, it puts me (and you…the consumers) at the mercy of store prices.
A little forethought and planning goes a long way. This single action ALONE tops my list of ways to save money (see my Meal Planning 101 here).
2. Buy in Season
I know this might seem redundant for anyone who has looked up money-saving methods before, but it really cannot be overstated.
A few years ago I went to Costco and saw the HUGE containers of blueberries that they sell. They were being sold for $4.99, which is an amazing price! A few weeks later, I saw the same container was nearly $9!
This is just one example of what I mean by “buy in season.”
Do some research to see when different produce comes out into the stores when and stock to up and make use of them.
I have been known to buy those huge Costco blueberry containers, bring them home and dump them into gallon size Freezer bags to freeze for enjoyment later on. We like to snack on frozen blueberries when they’re available, so this gives a great, cost-effective way to allow this simple delight.
Here’s a resource I’ve found to be helpful in figuring out how to use produce this way.
3. Know Local Store Prices/Deals
I am not a fan of couponing as one of my ways to save money. I mean, I respect those who do it, but with seven kids, homeschooling, and my personality, trying to get out to different stores multiple times a week is not a solution I am willing to employ.
Instead, I have become familiar with the general prices of stores in my area.
For years I lived near a Wegman’s and Aldi’s, which were my primary shopping stores, with Costco rounding out high use items (like lettuce).
Now, Aldi’s continues to be the main store I search out when we get to a new location.
I have not yet found a store that compares in prices and options to Aldi to help us save money. They have begun to include products that are organic, or gluten-free, which I really appreciate. It helps to keep my stores to a minimum.
Learn what’s around you and take a trip or to in order to really steak out the prices and know what’s going to be best for your family.
I know it means planning and preparation, but I hope you are starting to catch on that these are good things!
4. Eat According to Spoilage
I have to say that the single most helpful thing I ever learned was produce spoilage rates.
This was an enormous game changer for me!
Before I learned about this method, we would have moldy strawberries, squishy tomatoes, rotten potatoes, etc. Talk about money in the trash…
But, when I began to study produce spoilage more and apply it, I learned how to stretch our produce, and our budget. We began to navigate longer periods of time without either wasting food or dealing with much spoilage.
It has been a real blessing for our family! (See the full breakdown and spoilage chart here)
5. Be a Wise Consumer
In order for all of these above mentioned tips to work, you will need to consume the foods wisely and “work the plan.”
It won’t help anything if you make a meal plan, but eat all the green peppers in one sitting that were for the week’s meals.
…Or, if the kids eat 2-3 apples each a day, but I only planned for 1 each. This kind of stuff does NOT save money at all. It is like a drippy faucet in the kitchen sink.
In my house, I call this “rationing” (my military history precedes me). The kids know by this point that I mean business about it. If we eat just to eat, or to feed a craving, the whole system falls apart.
Some of you may have a more loose personality and totally think this is uber controlling.
I encourage you to purchase maybe one or two more items highly enjoyed in the household to loosen your reigns more. There is no issue with this if you’ve budgeted in the extra cost.
The goal is to simply practice wisdom, order, and stewardship to our own unique make-ups.
Every household is different, so don’t take this list as law. These are only suggestions. Tweak them as needed to fit your household’s unique needs and personality.
All things in balance =0)
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” ~ Galatians 5: 1
You CAN Save Money!
Even if you are not the type of person to plan, you can still learn how to do it.
Growth and maturity include learning how to balance out the weaknesses of our flesh. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” ~Phil. 4: 13
Even if it’s tough at first, persevere and press on. It might take time to work these things out, but diligence surely pays off!
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9
What solutions have you found to save money on produce that work for your family?
***This post was first posted at www.ProverbialHomemaker.com***