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Spend Less on Fruits and Vegetables

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Cut the Cost of Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and Vegetables
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When the USDA announced in 2011 that Americans were not eating their vegetables, daily recommendations and the estimated cost of those recommendations were also reported. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a person on a 2,000-calorie diet needs 2.5 cups of vegetables per day and 2 cups of fruit per day. Next came the USDA's report on how much the 4.5 cups of fruit and vegetables will cost based on 2008 food prices and the average ran between $2 and $2.50 per day. However, is that a feasible estimate based on today's fresh produce prices? Yes, but it all how we plan our meals, how we shop and how much we waste.

There are general guidelines for cutting the cost of fruits and vegetables that many of us already know about, but do not always follow. However, if you really want to spend less on more nutritional foods, then you really do need to familiarize yourself with these steps and make them a shopping habit.

Meal Planning and Shopping Lists

Planning meals and making a list of foods you need at the grocery store is a smart shopper's ammunition to cutting the price of groceries. Speaking honestly, you just cannot get too serious about saving on food if you do not take this necessary step. There are many tools available online to help you come up with a basic plan on meals and ingredients and remember, the goal is to develop menus that include more fruits and vegetables that will not cost a lot of money, but that have a ton of notional value.

The trick to getting the most bang for your buck when buying fresh produce is to use what you buy in different recipes. This helps cut down on waste. Below you will find several recipe ideas to help you with your planning.

Keep a Produce Calendar Handy

No matter what you buy, the general rule on saving money is to buy when there is an abundance of product available. By using a produce calendar specific to your area, you will have a general idea of the fruits and vegetables that are in season. Generally, produce that is in season will be your best buys at the grocery stores and famer's markets. Take advantage of this information and plan your meals accordingly.

Fruits and Vegetables Availability Calendars :

Alabama, Alaska Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Compare Prices at Grocery Stores and Farmer's Markets

Check your weekly grocery stores' circulars for the best prices in your area and visit your local farmer's market regularly. Also, check online for your local stores and farmer's markets websites for coupons. Sign up for the customer loyalty programs at your local stores for additional savings and special sales.

Grate, Cut, Slice, Cube at Home

Buy whole fresh produce and do your own prep work. Whole fruits and vegetables will always cost less than those that have been pre-cut, prepared and processed. Avoiding products such as cut-up fruits in cups, prepared fruit and vegetable trays, cleaned baby carrots, sliced mushrooms, pre-cut broccolis and cauliflower and packaged lettuce will always be more costly. Use the money that you will save by cutting and chopping produce yourself and invest it instead in good kitchen tools like graters and juicers.

Check the Frozen Food Aisle

Prices on frozen fruits and vegetables drop when the items are in season. Since frozen produce is selected for freezing when at its peak, buying frozen produce that is in-season can save you money without sacrificing taste and nutritional value. A good example is with frozen strawberries. When buying out of season, a bag of strawberries can cost up to $8.99 or higher. In-season you can buy the same bag for $3.99. Stockpiling in-season frozen produce, when found at low prices, will save you bundles throughout the year.

Buy Generic

When it comes to buying canned fruits and vegetables, generic and store brands will be your best bargain, unless you have coupons for the name brands. Generally, the taste between the generic and name brands are going to be about the same.

Grow Your Own

Growing fruits and vegetables is increasing in popularity because 1) its fun, 2) it's cost effective, 3) it's less wasteful when people can pick fresh produce when they plan to eat it. What is so great about growing your own fruits, herbs and vegetables, is that it can be done in small or large spaces. Container gardens and small patio fruit trees can produce a substantial bounty of fresh produce.

Freeze Rather Than Waste

Many times people will avoid buying fresh produce because in the past too much of it has gone bad before they got around to eating it. A good solution is to freeze it before it goes to waste. Also, when lemons and limes are in season, stock up and juice some for the winter months when the prices go way up. A simple way to do this is to take the juice and freeze it in ice cube trays, then pop them out and put the cubes in freezer bags.
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