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Saving on produce

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Nothing tastes better in the summer than fresh fruits and vegetables. With prices on many produce items up nearly twenty percent over last year, however, and with many economists predicting they will continue to rise, fresh food is becoming too expensive to eat. Fortunately, there are a few ways to bring down your grocery bill.
Unfortunately, many of the common tricks used by savvy shoppers to cut down on their grocery bill don’t really work with produce. Fruits and vegetables hardly ever have coupons available, making it hard to save a lot of money in this area.
Learn to can and freeze produce
These items do go on sale, however. Learning how to can and freeze vegetables and fruits can be a great way to save money. Practically all fruits can be frozen, but it is important to learn which ones should be peeled or chopped before freezing in order to preserve taste. Canning is more complicated, but there are hundreds of resources available to teach you the basics.
Buy in season
Buying in produce in season is one of the best known ways to save money when buying produce. Locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs that do not have to be preserved or transported long distances are much cheaper than items grown in another hemisphere. Learn what produce is a available throughout the year in your area is essential to saving money.
Buy directly from the farmer
Of course, one of the best ways to get in season produce is to buy it directly from a local farm. Farmer’s markets are a great place to start shopping for produce. In addition to saving money by cutting out the middleman, farmer’s markets can give you the opportunity to speak directly to the person growing your produce. Many people have reported finding out that a small farm in their area grows organically, but is not certified by the USDA because of the high costs. This means that the consumer gets high quality organic produce at a fraction of the cost they would otherwise pay in a grocery store.
If you’re feeding a large family or if you can form a group of several families to buy in bulk, it may be possible to by directly from a farm in your area. Many fruit and vegetables farmers have no problem with putting aside several pallets or baskets of produce and selling it to local people who are willing to pick it up at their farm. While this may take a little legwork, it can save you more money than buying the produce at the farmer’s market, since the farmer doesn’t have to transport the produce or pay booth fees. Some farms have a pricing system already in place, while others are open to negotiation.
If you want out of season, non-local fruits and vegetables, however, you may want to consider buying canned and frozen versions of these foods. Frozen and canned produce has the same nutritional value as its fresh counterparts, but costs much less.

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