First Person: Three Ways I Save Money on Produce

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In January of 2013 my husband and I decided to change our lifestyle to live a healthier life. For years I convinced myself that eating healthy was too expensive, so we simply couldn't afford it. Well, the truth is, it's not really have expensive, and we can afford it; however, that doesn't mean I've stopped looking for ways to save money on our food costs.

Before dieting, our biggest food expenditure was meat, but now that we've decreased our portion sizes and switched to healthier meats like chicken and turkey, our largest expenditure is produce.

Here are three ways I save money on produce.

Farmer's market

I recently discovered a local farmer's market not far from my home. Local gardeners gather their crops and meet to buy, sell, and trade some of the best produce around. Our local stores will charge as much as $2 a pound for things like fresh cut green beans, but I can get them at the farmers market for $1 a pound. I estimate that we save around $10 a month shopping at the farmer's market.

Uncut fruits and vegetables

If you've ever walked through the produce section of a grocery store, you've seen containers of fresh fruits or vegetables that have already been cleaned and cut, so they are ready to eat. If you look closely at the prices of this ready-to-eat produce you will see they are much more expensive than their uncut counterparts. Our local store charges as much as $4 for a container of cut broccoli, but I can buy an uncut head for $2. That's a 50% savings.

Buying large quantities and freezing them

If I were to send my husband to the store for some sweet corn, chances are he would return with a bag of frozen corn kernels. He explained that he doesn't like all the added preservatives in canned corn, and doesn't like to remove fresh corn from the cob, so he opts for the frozen stuff. I told him I could give him the best of both worlds by buying large quantities of fresh produce and freezing them here at home. The farmers at the farmer's market usually give discounts to people who buy larger quantities, so there is additional savings as well.

We are less than six months into our diet, so it's hard to tell how much we well save on produce over the next year. However, based on what we've spent so far, I estimate that we will save more than $200 a year.

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