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If you crave fresh produce but shudder at the prices, this is the list for you! Take a look at these 13 options for finding budget-friendly produce both locally and online.
1. Roadside stands
Roadside stands are reliable places to get good deals on produce that was literally hanging on a vine somewhere an hour or two ago. Often they are located just outside the metro city limits.
2. Any store on a Wednesday
For many grocers, mid-week is the time when new produce shipments arrive (same goes for meat and seafood!). So older produce is marked to sell to make room for the new arrivals. I can often get great deals on organic greens, for example, just by heading to my local Kroger on a Wednesday.
Sprouts is one of a crop of new up-and-coming Whole Foods competitors that is a farmers market and grocer all in one. While many of their supplements, teas, and snacks are pricier than at Whole Foods, their big loss leader is their fresh produce.
- Sprouts locations nationwide (open and soon-to-open)
4. Local farmers markets
The key with getting the best deals at local farmers markets is going early or quite late. Arrive early, and sellers are eager to move their produce inventory; arrive late, and sellers are keen to offload the last produce so they can pack up and go home.
5. Know when to buy what produce
Certain produce comes into season at certain times each year. Buy produce when it’s in season and you’ll find some of the lowest prices you’ll see all year—even at major commercial grocers.
6. Know where to snag produce coupons and cashback savings
One common couponing myth is that you can’t find coupons or cashback savings for buying fresh produce. Today, nothing could be farther from the truth!
- Berry Cart app (save on healthy food, including produce)
- Snap app (get cashback on grocery purchases, including produce)
- 5 Facebook pages to follow for produce coupons
- New Target Mobile Coupons – Save on Fresh Produce!
7. Shop for produce at Costco
My mom gets killer deals on beautiful fresh produce at Costco. I go with her sometimes (especially in pomegranate and apricot season) and they have big flats of super-fresh seasonal produce at prices I won’t find at my neighborhood grocer.
8. Consider buying your produce online
A host of new so-called “cyber produce markets” are using the Internet to reach out to folks who want to eat healthy on a budget. It can be worth it to price compare what you pay locally against what these online markets may offer you (be sure to calculate in shipping when you do this!).
- Organic Consumers List (list of organic markets nationwide)
- Green People (list of organic products, including produce)
9. Find out if you have a local Save-A-Lot store
Save-A-Lot is a growing chain of 1,300+ grocers across the country. They advertise savings of up to 40% off on produce and other groceries. And their weekly flyer advertises additional savings, including produce savings.
10. Visit your local Aldi
Aldi is just coming into my city–mostly around the edges of the major metropolitan area. Aldi is a discount grocer. In 2014, the Huffington Post published the results of a study comparing prices at Kroger, Walmart, and Aldi—including produce. Aldi emerged as the cheapest by far.
11. Ask for “seconds” when you are produce shopping
“Seconds” is the grocery industry’s term for products that are basically “un-saleable.” In the produce department, this may mean a bruised peach, a tomato with a soft spot, or even strawberries that grew into odd shapes.
Often the produce manager will have to toss these and take a loss—unless you ask about the possibility of buying them at a deep discount. Chances are good they will be happy to move their seconds at any price they can get!
12. Research local “ethnic” grocers in (or near) your community
In my city of 4+ million people, it can be a bit of a drive to get to some of the ethnic communities that feature lower prices on produce, spices, and other things my family loves.
But we have plenty of Fiesta grocers and the prices on items like fresh mangoes, papayas, and cactus fruit are reliably low. Plus, I can often find produce like fresh figs at low prices and at times when no other grocer in town has them.
13. Ask about wholesale produce
Whether at a local farm or farmers market, or through the grocery store produce manager’s stockroom or distribution channels, you can often score discounts of 10-15% or higher (close to wholesale cost) if you buy produce in bulk.
But you have to be prepared to eat and/or freeze a lot of produce to negotiate this kind of deal, so it’s best to try to go in with a few other families in your neighborhood to be sure you can all save and also consume everything you buy.