How I save at the supermarket with produce

Besides the tips I found on this blog post, I want to give you a few more ways of maximizing the amount of money you spend in food, specially vegetables and fruit, the nutritious stuff. This is how I do it:

  • Use coupons: A discount is a discount. Just don’t use all your free time looking for the discounts, unless you are saving more then the current minimum wage per the time you spend looking for coupons. Look in your local supermarket’s website. There you will find coupons. Look into manufacturers’ websites too. And coupon sites.
  • Buy on sale items: Look in your local supermarket’s website. There you will also find sales. Common sales are “buy one, get one free”. Another common sale is “10 for $10” or something similar. These are usually items that they have in excess and/or are approaching their expiration date, or in the case of produce, need to be eaten soon or they will spoil. With the produce, in that last case, the problem is that you need to eat them right after you buy them, or they will spoil in your refrigerator. So, what to do? Eat them fresh if they look fresh enough. If not, do what the food industry normally does. Grind, cook, mix with other ingredients, or somehow disguise the food so that the reduced freshness is not obvious but it is still edible and safe to consume (!). Just try to buy the freshest in that case and eat it or cook it soon.  I like to make soup with vegetable broth and tofu, and spinach and mushrooms when they are on sale. Whatever other veggie that is on sale that week will go into my beans: broccoli, eggplant, pumpkin. I often freeze the broccoli (or the soup) since I can’t eat that much food that fast (before it spoils).
  • Buy in season: Go to your state’s department of agriculture website and find out what produce is in season in your area. This is an example document from the department of agriculture in Florida. They also have recipes, including seafood recipes. (Who wants Alligator Scaloppini with Sauce Dijon?) You can be confident that most of the recipes are going to be healthy. The produce that is in season most likely will be the one on sale most often, too. Your local supermarket also has that information. Other local government websites and programs that contain useful and FREE information and recipes and that you should explore are WIC, child care food programs, and school food programs. Those links are for the programs in Florida. Pretty much everything you need is a few keys and clicks away. You can print the information and keep it with you or on your refrigerator. Please share the information with the people you care.
  • Buy in bulk/sale and freeze: This is the case with the broccoli I mentioned in a previous point, but it also works for blueberries, for example. I find frozen blueberries all year long, but not fresh blueberries. So when they are on sale, get a hold of as many as you can buy and wash, pat dry, and freeze them right away. This works when the fresh blueberries on sale end up costing less than the same amount of store bought frozen ones, or when you just don’t have any. Just spread them on a single layer on a baking sheet and then store in freezer bags until you need them. If you freeze them in the bags, they will stick together as they freeze and then you will need to thaw the whole bag when you need some instead of just thawing the amount you need. Also, avoid freeze thaw freeze thaw freeze thaw. That decreases the quality of the produce very fast.
  • Eat less: If you suspect that you eat more than what you need, eat less (another post on portions will come soon!). This will automatically decrease the cost per meal and the same amount of food will last for many more meals. Another side effect of eating less can be weight loss, and since two thirds of the country are either overweight or obese, it is really a good idea to eat less. Smaller bodies often need less expensive clothes…and the cars moving those bodies will need less gasoline, too.

Do you have any other ideas on how to save money on food?

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