Getting a low price on fresh produce is the holy grail that health-conscious families on a budget are always in search of. Finding out how to save on fresh produce can be tricky.
Since this is pretty much all of us right now, I’m gonna jump to conclusions and assume you’re here to find out how to find reliable and steady savings on fruits and vegetables. Don’t worry, I’m going to give that to you.
I will show you what I discovered when I compared regular prices on bananas, apples, Navel oranges, green grapes, strawberries, Hass avocados, Roma tomatoes, carrots, Romaine lettuce, onions and broccoli across six grocery stores. I think you’re going to be surprised to learn all about who is and who isn’t the cheapest.
Now the only “getting healthy” hurdle you’ll have to jump over is learning to like kale. Godspeed.
1. Shop at ALDI to get the lowest fresh produce prices across the board.
OK, no surprise here — you’ve probably known for years that ALDI’s produce is a sweet deal.
Tracking the lowest prices for eleven popular produce items across six stores, ALDI is the cheapest five times (bananas, Navel oranges, strawberries, Roma tomatoes and carrots).
And on a few of these (oranges!) ALDI is significantly cheaper. You’ll save $0.42 per pound on oranges if you shop ALDI compared to the next cheapest store.
I promised you a surprise and so without further ado…
2. Walmart isn’t the cheapest for produce (and can barely hang with Kroger).
I was surprised to see Walmart come in with overall bland savings on produce. I’m pointing it out specifically, in case you’ve ever been sucked into the vortex of Walmart’s messaging that their “Everyday Low Prices” are actually the lowest prices all the time, forever and ever amen.
I mean, sure it’s true that Walmart’s regular prices on groceries and household items are a safe bet when you don’t have coupons. But as a smart shopper, you’re not gonna check your brain at Walmart’s automatic doors. Always compare Walmart’s produce prices to other stores!
That said, Walmart is cheapest for avocados (unless you’re in California and they’re $0.32 each!) and Romaine lettuce, but that’s it. Hey, at least they’re not looking as bad as Target.
3. Ward off the produce section next time you make a Target run.
When it comes to spendy produce, Target is trying to cover its own eyes, hoping we don’t see it. Four of eleven items were most expensive at Target (bananas, apples, romaine lettuce and broccoli).
In one instance (bananas), Target isn’t too far behind Kroger and Walmart, but every other time Target comes in last, they come in way last. Broccoli is particularly embarrassing — almost a whole two dollars per pound more expensive than the winner, Kroger.
It’s not enough bad news for me to break up with Target, but I will be two-timing them by getting my fresh produce elsewhere.
4. Costco doesn’t have the best fresh produce prices, but if you’re a Costco diehard, carry on.
Costco, like Walmart, is just “meh” on prices for the produce items I looked at. But if you’re a committed Costco shopper, there’s no shame in it because “just average” pricing makes for great one-stop shopping when you’re in a hurry.
Notice that I didn’t compare a few items at Costco and here’s why — they only had pre-packaged or non-comparable types. For example, they don’t offer non-organic green grapes right now, so I didn’t do a price comparison there. Also, I only saw baby carrots, making it hard to compare with regular carrots. And broccoli only comes in pre-packaged bags, not by the crown or bunch. I listed these as “N/A.”
Your Costco produce cheatsheet goes like this: Buy all the yellow onions you want and avoid Roma tomatoes like your life depends on it — Costco is $0.76 more expensive than the next guy when it comes to tomatoes!
5. Is Grocery Outlet actually a discounted grocery store? If so, I can’t tell.
I’m genuinely wondering after comparing produce prices because they look a lot like Target with more losers than winners.
Grocery Outlet’s strategy seems to be that they inflate prices of comparable stores in order to pass off average pricing as huge savings. I have no idea which store they’re comparing their prices to, but it’s not one of the six main stores I priced out!
For example, Hass avocados are two for $3 at Grocery Outlet with a comparable price listed as $2.99 each “elsewhere.” But they’re the most expensive when it comes to avocados — in fact, Grocery Outlet’s avocados are $1.50 each and the next most expensive, Costco, is only $1 each. Where is this grocery store that sells avocados for $2.99 each? I won’t hold my breath waiting for an answer.
Grocery Outlet’s other selections put the “discounted” in “discounted grocery store.” But it’s definitely not because of their produce prices!
Now, on to produce savings!
6. Join a produce CSA to get a weekly produce delivery.
CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” — you’ll buy “shares” of a farm’s produce harvest up front and then once the harvest happens, you get your portion until the season is over.
A CSA typically results in a box of produce every week during spring and summer (sometimes into the fall), but the amount and type of produce varies based on the farm and what’s in season. You don’t handpick what types of produce you want — you get what you get and you usually need to pick it up at a location, although thanks to COVID, many CSAs offer delivery too!
Here’s what you can expect to see:
Produce CSA full share (one full box of produce every week for 17 weeks): $600 or about $35 per week
Produce CSA half-share (one half box of produce every week for 17 weeks): $400 or about $25 per week
Here’s everything I received in my half-share organic CSA delivery this week, comparing to regular retail prices. Keep in mind, I only paid $25!
- 1/2 dozen free range eggs ($3.50)
- 1 bunch cilantro ($1.49)
- 1 container sugar snap peas ($4.69)
- 2 head bok choy ($3.38 each)
- 1 head cauliflower ($6.23)
- 1 cantaloupe ($3.99)
- 2 gala apples ($1.25 each)
- 2 white peaches ($1.68 each)
- 1 yellow onion ($1.34)
- 2 zucchini ($0.68 each)
- 4 carrots ($1)
- 3 cucumbers ($1.49 each)
- 2 tomatoes ($1 each)
- 1 basket strawberries ($5.99)
- 1/2 pound green beans ($5 per pound)
- 1 bag baby spinach ($5)
- 1 bunch romaine ($1.99)
- 1 container shiitake mushrooms ($5, non-organic)
- 2 white creamer potatoes ($2 each)
- 1 container cherry tomatoes ($3.99 non-organic)
- 2 head of corn ($5.99 for four)
- 2 navel oranges ($1.41 each)
Total retail value: $76.98 — that’s $51.98 in savings!
TIP: Search LocalHarvest.org to find a CSA near you.
7. Looking for a deal on organic? Buy imperfect produce at MisfitsMarket.com.
For the weeks you can’t get a CSA, try a MisfitsMarket.com subscription box.
Misfits Market sells imperfect or “ugly” (but not rotten or bruised!) in-season produce that stores won’t sell because items are too small, too large or just weirdly shaped. In short, it’s not pretty produce.
But you don’t care about that and neither do I! One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t get to choose your items with Misfits Market because it’s a subscription box — you get what you get, like a CSA. But unlike a CSA, you can get a Misfits Market box every week of the year, and it’s delivered to your door!
Misfits Market offers two subscription box options, both come with a $4.50-5.50 shipping fee (depending on where you live):
The Mischief box: Feeds two to three people for a week and it’s 10-13 pounds of organic fruits and veggies for $22 per week.
The Madness box: Feeds up to five people for a week and it’s 18-22 pounds of organic produce for $35 per week.
TIP: When you’re shopping MisfitsMarket.com, you’ll see a pop-up offering you 25% off to sign up for newsletters. If you don’t see it after a few minutes on the site, open a new window or go Incognito to trigger the pop up.
8. Or shop ImperfectFoods.com to get discounted ugly produce.
ImperfectFoods.com offers ugly produce boxes that you can customize to make sure you only pay for what your family actually eats. Items are priced individually. Imperfect Foods receives surplus from farms, after food banks have taken what they want, and turn around to sell it at a discount.
You’ll need to buy at least $30 worth of produce to qualify for delivery, plus you’ll pay a $4.99 or $5.99 delivery fee, based on your location.
9. Get $20 off your first FarmBoxDirect.com produce delivery order.
The truth is FarmBoxDirect.com is more expensive than Imperfect Foods or Misfits Market. But you can get an offer for $20 off your first order, so I recommend you do that very thing.
Order the “Only Organic Small Box” and you’ll get enough produce for up to two people for a week. Regularly priced at $47.95, with the $20 off offer, you’ll only pay $27.95 (shipping is free), comparable to what Misfits Market offers.
After this initial order, your mileage may vary as Farm Box Direct is more spendy than the other options — you’re paying extra for “pretty” produce and the ability to swap out up to five items in your box per week.
10. Always use Ibotta to get fruit and veggie savings.
Rebate apps offer savings after you make a purchase. For Target and Walmart, just link your store account to the Ibotta app and when you pay through the app (using a debit card in your Target “wallet” or using Walmart Pay, respectively), you’ll automatically get any current Ibotta rebates for items you bought.
For other stores, you’ll unlock offers and then take a picture of your receipt, uploading it to the Ibotta app. For both options, cash out through PayPal.
On any given day, Ibotta offers multiple produce rebates. In fact, a glimpse at Ibotta’s offers right now show rebates on apples at Costco, grapes, blueberries and kiwis at Target, pre-packaged salad greens at Walmart and cherry tomatoes at Albertsons/Vons. Offers rotate frequently though. Here are examples of past deals I’ve seen:
Submit one $1/1 – Sunkist and SK Choice Lemon Bag 2 and 5 pounds, (ibotta.com)
Pay $2.98, submit for $1 Ibotta credit
Final Price: $1.98
Submit one $0.75/1 – Sunkist Delite Mandarin Bag 3 and 5 pounds, (ibotta.com)
Pay $5.54, submit for $0.75 Ibotta credit
Final Price: $4.79
I’ve got three welcome offers for you if you sign up with this Ibotta link to receive up to $20 in bonuses:
- Welcome Bonus #1: Receive a $10 Welcome Bonus for redeeming an in-store offer (Any Brand and Any Item offers excluded)
- Welcome Bonus #2: Receive a $5 Welcome Bonus for redeeming a mobile shopping offer.
- Welcome Bonus #3: A secondary $5 Welcome Bonus for redeeming an in-store or mobile shopping offer.
To be eligible, you must be a new user and you must redeem your bonus offers within the first 30 days.
RELATED: Your Ultimate Guide to Rebate Apps
11. Whatcha waitin’ for? Download the KCL app to sleuth out all the produce coupons.
You really do need the KCL app.
Produce coupons are rare, so Krazy Coupon Lady aggregates any coupons we see and matches them up with sale prices at stores. This means when you download the KCL app, you’ll be the first to find out when we see that liquid gold, also known as “produce coupons.”
If you simply can’t wait for us to find a deal and tell you about it, look for produce coupons from these manufacturers. You’ll need to sign up for their newsletters and coupons aren’t a guarantee, but these guys are the most likely to send out coupons and offers:
Don’t scroll up! Here are the articles I mentioned: