How I Save Money On Produce
When people see photos of all the deals that I get when I go shopping, they often ask how I live on shaving cream, deodorant, soup and pasta.
I do buy produce and perishable items – really! So, how do I save money on produce?
I do two things – buy sale items and freeze.
Shop The Sales
They very best way to save money on items such as fresh fruits & vegetables, milk and eggs, is to only buy them when they are on sale.
Eggs and milk don’t often go on sale, so I usually just buy them at the cheapest place possible (which, in my area, is Shoppers Drug Mart).
When it comes to vegetables and fruit, I plan my menu around the items that are on sale.
This week broccoli is on sale for $0.79 cents and cauliflower is on sale for $0.99 cents. That means we will have those particular veggies with our meals this week.
Below is a list of what I consider to be good prices for a variety of different produce items:
Beans – $1/lb
Peppers – $1/lb.
Lettuce – $1
Spinach – $1
Tomatoes – $1/lb
Cucumber – $1
Bananas – $0.59/lb.
Apples – $0.79/lb.
Grapes – $1/lb
Strawberries – $1.50/lb
Pineapple – $2
Blueberries – $1.50/pint
Raspberries – $1.50
Oranges – $.79/lb
Milk – $4
Eggs – $2/dozen
The items that are on sale in your fliers are often those that are in season. So, by buying those items, you will not only be saving money, you will also be eating the freshest food.
Buy In Bulk & Freeze
You can easily freeze most perishable foods, as long as you do it properly.
Broccoli, Cauliflower – Chop into bite size pieces and blanch in hot water for 3 minutes. Dump them in an ice bath for about 30 seconds to stop the cooking. Freeze in freezer bags or containers for up to 6 months.
Carrots – Peel and chop into bite size pieces. Blanche in hot water and a pinch of sugar for 3 minutes. Dump them in an ice bath for 30 seconds. Freeze up to 1 year.
Beans – Blanche in hot water for 3 minutes. Dump them in an ice bath for 30 seconds. Freeze up to 1 year.
Onions, Peppers – Chop and freeze for up to 6 months.
Spinach – Wash and then steam spinach until it wilts. Remove to a colander and once it is cooled, add to freezer bags or container and freeze for up to 1 year.
Tomatoes – Although you cannot freeze tomatoes, you can make your own homemade pasta sauce and freeze that instead.
Bananas, Pineapple, Strawberries – Chop into bite size pieces and freeze for up to 3 months (1 year for strawberries). Use these in fruit drinks and smoothies.
Blueberries, Raspberries, Grapes – Freeze for up to 1 year.
Oranges – Peel and freeze individual orange slices for up to 3 months. Use these in fruit drinks and smoothies.
Milk – Freeze individual bags only for up to 1 month. Let thaw in refrigerator for 48 hours and give the bag a good shake before you use it.
Freezing items that you can not consume before they go bad is great way to save money. Don’t forget what you have frozen by sticking a freezer inventory sheet to the front of your freezer.
Wondering…can u freeze margarine and/or butter?
I freeze my butter all the time and it doesn’t change the flavour or texture at all.
You can freeze Tomatoes, whole, just know that when you defrost them they are best used as sauces.
I freeze my tomatoes as well and use them for cooking when I need them. This saves me throwing them out when I have bought them and not used them up before it is time to throw them out!!
I freeze tomatoes too that I will be using to make sauces. This means I can buy them at their peak ripeness in season from local farmers, and not the crappy green/pink ones found in supermarkets during the winter.
I freeze tomatoes also and use them in chili. It is better if they are already cut.
That is totally genius! I have no idea why I never thought to freeze fresh veggies and fruit…usually it all goes bad by the time we get around to eating it. I am seriously kicking myself for being soo blind for so long and not doing this!
I do as you do-have a set price limit that I usually follow. Bananas are about the only thing that I buy regardless, though they are usually .69 in town. I rarely buy them at the nearest store 7 minutes away as they are .89/lb. When someone has them for .49/lb I buy tons..and then freeze what we don’t get to in the amount I need for my muffin recipe.
In the late summer/fall I’ll splurge and buy apples at the market because there is nothing better than a just picked apple!!! We have a great market but man, it is expensive!
I have a garden, though need to work harder to get more out of it! If I grew nothing else I would grow tomatoes.
Buying pre-frozen fruit for smoothies is usually much cheaper than buying fresh and freezing, but freezing is a great way to not waste what was not eaten in time.
We’ve had lots of strawberries lately as they have been on sale everywhere! Navel oranges too…lots of vitamin C!
Great tips. One thing we do every year when berries are in season is go to a U-pick farm – we pick bluberries and Raspberries last year 30 lbs of Raspberries and 20 of blueberries. Then bring them home and freeze them for use year round. Saves up to 80% if you compair buying fresh berries in the middle of the winter.. YIKES! Plus it is a fun day, educational for the kids when they were smaller too.
Raquel – Yes you can! For up to 2 months.
LA – Thanks for sharing. I always freeze butter. 🙂
Eeyah – Really? I have not had luck with freezing tomatoes. 🙁
Heather – Good to know! Maybe I will have to try freezing my tomatoes again.
travelgeek – Oh yeah, tomatoes are awful in the winter (at stores)!
Naomi – Dang, looks like everybody has had success with freezing tomaties except me! I am going to try it again, I must have done something wrong when I tried before.
Ashley – Don’t feel bad, I was the same way for the longest time.
teachermum – I wish I had the space and the patience for a garden. We tried a few herbs last year but they were eaten by earwigs! Ewwwwww!
I don;t like to buy the pre-frozen fruits because I find that they are usually too sweet when I go to have them. Veggies are okay though. I will stock up on them when they are on sale!
Di – I haven’t done this before, but plan to do so this summer!
Something else I remembered as I cleaned out my freezer …. Bananas freeze amamzing for muffins or bananna bread, or pancakes. I used to buy what my girls refered to as the “dead bananna’s” off the sale racks at the store (HUGE SAVINGS) take them home and pop them in the freezer as is. When I needed them, pull them out, mash them and they were ready to go. Saddly I think they O.D’d on such things and do not like anything bannana anymore.
Di – Oh, I love freezing bananas! We mostly use them for fruit drinks and smoothies, but I may try using them in muffin and bread recipes as well. Thanks for the tip!
I use my frozen bananas to make banana ice cream without the cream ….. Put 3 frozen banana’s into a food processor and pulse for up to 5 minutes .. in the beginning it doesn’t look like much but it will come together and make a creamy yummy dessert. I add splash of vanilla sometimes or chocolate chips for a switch up. Enjoy
In late August we bought a bushel of tomatoes. We diced and stewed some which we froze and made paste with some. Great flavour all year round. We also stewed cut up pieces of bell peppers. I have shredded zucchinin and frozen it to use in zucchini bread. Sometimes I puree my banana before freezing for muffins or breads.
We freeze butter and margarine too. I also freeze hummus and tofu if I get them on sale and it’s mroe than we can eat.
I save money on produce by cleaning out my refrigerator produce bins regularly – chop and freeze that single carrot, parsnip, half an onion, wilty celery, half a pepper etc.I just chop them all into freezer bags of “stew veggies” or “chili veggies” or “stir fry veggies”. It works really well and means that you throw out much less. I also came across a recipe to freeze potatoes – if you have some going soft – it is “Potatoes O’brien” – where you par-boil the chopped potatoes skin on if you like and then add to that some onion, peppers and olive oil – freeze in ziplocs and then fry it up for home fries at a later time – no more throwing out soft potatoes:)
I freeze my tomatoes and it works well for my cooking. Usually i bought it in no frills 6 pieces for 99 cents so when on sale i buy a lot.
I freeze tomatoes whole with skins still on. I pull out of freezer as needed and run under hot water and the skins come right off! I use in soups chili stews etc.We have a garden and always have excess.
I freeze butter all the time.I freeze bananas whole with skins on when they start to turn brown and we use for pancakes muffins and banana bread.I always freeze blueberries in season. Freeze on cookie sheet. when frozen scrape off and put in bags. Then they are pourable.
one of the best ways I save on produce, is price matching with the indian/Asian flyers that come in the newspaper. Walmart will price match them! for example this week I bought 2 cucumbers for $0.97 and spinach 2/$1.50! Apples, green peppers, lemons and lots more come for really cheap in these flyers!
I am very lucky living in Vancouver where there are so many produce stores and the prices are awesome. I get Roma tomatoes 14 for $2..so I buy 56 and celery is only $1 a bunch and onions are 3/$1 so every other week I make stewed tomatoes. Cauliflower is always $1 a head, carrots are $1.50 for a 5 pound bag. Green beans and broccoli are always less than 2 bucks so I buy in bulk and freeze. Fruit is always cheap here as well so once a week I stock up and then clean and freeze it as we make a lot of smoothies in our house.I am not a vegetarian by any means but I have noticed that we are eating less and less meat as produce is so inexpensive here. It does take some planning and work but the benefits are well worth it, both health wise and financially. I am thinking it’s time to start canning my own fruits and veggies again as well.
I have my own garden and I can my tomatoes. I do them in the mason jars and there is nothing like your own canned tomatoes. Take a bottle and put in the fridge then open in a few hours Delicious and not full of any additives. I also make my own tomato juice. I can my carrots, beans and turnips as well. Nothing like doing your own and it doesn’t take a whole lot of time. Once you do it, you will never go back to the bought.
I go thru my fridge once every 2 weeks. Any veggies that are just about done chop them up and place in zip lock. I freeze till my ready to make a soup base. Throw in whatever is is the bag. Season and simmer. Once done I puree the broth and I get a thick broth which then I use for soup base. I bottle some and use some that day. Add beans, fresh veggies, chicken, pasta. In a hurry pull the broth out and quick soup is done in no time at all.