Most of us spend a good chunk of our hard-earned money at the grocery store. We all know that cooking at home, instead of eating out, will save money & our waistlines, too. But, making that happen on a budget can be tricky. One sure-fire way to stretch our money is to follow these tips on how to stock up on produce items intelligently, making our fresh groceries outlast their price tag.
Stock Up Seasonally
Anyone who spends time at the grocery store knows that food prices fluctuate. A lot. This is especially true of the produce section. Fruits and vegetables come into and out of season, making their prices change week to week. So, when summer hits and sweet corn can be bought for a few cents, stock up. When grapes are in season, stock up. When berries are in season….well, you get the idea. And the best ways to know what is in season is 1. The produce section will smell like whatever is in season. Strawberries, apples….yum! and 2. The price will be down significantly, and there will be A LOT of whatever is in season available. But what to do with 10# of bananas? I will explain how to use them effectively in a few minutes.
Compare the Price
Some items are super cheap per pound when you buy them in bulk. Apples, for example, are typically cheaper per pound when you buy a bag of apples instead of loose ones. Of course, the ones in the bags are typically smaller. But, if you notice a serving size of an apple it says “one small,” which is perfect. Some items, though, may not be cheaper when buying in bulk. Today, for example, I wanted to get avocados. They were $.80 each, or a bag of 3 was $3. Someone does not know how to do their math, but I saw people grabbing the net bags because, in theory, it should be cheaper. So, just do your research at the store. Check the per pound and the bulk prices.
Whistle While You Work
Once you have stocked up, prep your fruits and veg as soon as you get home. Unload the bags and put on some music. A little prep at the start will help all week (and beyond). If the berries are ripe, you can rinse and clean them, but if they need a little time, or if you are not going to eat them right away, leave them. Washing berries can make them get soggy and go bad quicker. If you have stocked up on foods that are not yet ripe (banana, avocado) set them on the counter together (bananas make everything ripen quicker, so keep them away from things like tomatoes that go from ripe to rot quickly) and process them once ripe.
Like smoothies? Peel and freeze your ripe bananas, peaches, mango, and berries on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, put them into baggies and pull them out of the freezer as needed. Got lots of tomatoes? Cook them down into a sauce, and freeze in baggies. You can thaw them as needed and make pasta sauce, add them to soups, even make a salsa from the freezer. My biggest tip is to freeze items individually on a tray BEFORE putting them into bags. I once peeled 6 bananas at once and tossed them in a bag to freeze. I ended up with a solid mass of banana. I used it to make banana bread, but it was surely not an easy task!
Use your hard earned money to it’s fullest potential by buying the best foods possible when they are at their peak. Get creative & put some elbow grease into prep, and you will have food to last. And, you will have a little more money in your pockets!