This is a guest post from my friend, Andrea at The Green Backs Gal. I asked if she would share with us some of the ways to save money on organic produce.
One of the toughest areas to save at the grocery store is in the produce department. This is particularly true during the winter when the growing season here in Colorado is dormant. So how can you pinch pennies but still enjoy fresh and delicious produce? Buy seasonal, buy local and buy organics when it makes sense.
Buy Produce in Season
Why Buy Produce In Season? By purchasing and eating food that is in season, you will not only be saving on your budget, you will be eating better tasting food! Produce that is not in season is grown somewhere else in this world, picked too early, and then is transported to your grocers. That cost is passed on to you! By eating seasonally, you might be eating grapes only in the Fall when the prices are low. But the beauty is, once you have kinda had it with grapes, the oranges will be sweet and cheap! We are all very used to getting what produce we want when we want it. But, if you are serious about saving money, you’ll find eating seasonally will definitely save you on your budget each month. Check out what is in season this month – with Spring here, there are some tasty choices!
Store Seasonal Food Properly. Here is where you can really extend your savings. Buy things like winter squashes when they are at their cheapest (in the Fall). Then store them is a cool dark place and they can last 6 months!!! Or, buy out the sweet pepper stand at the farmer’s market, then take it home and freeze it. You will be so happy you did when in the dead of winter the sweet pepper prices have tripled!
Another way to save on your produce is to join a CSA.
What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)? Community Supported Agriculture means you buy a “share” in a local farm. You invest before the growing season begins, then share in its bounty throughout the summer. Your “share” comes in a weekly box of fruits or vegetables or a mix of both. By buying into the farm early, you do assume some of the risk. If the growing season is poor, you may not receive much for your share.
Why Participate in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)? Buying a share in a CSA allows you to support the farmers in your area. It keeps your dollars local and allows you to choose how your food is produced. It also means you will get peak fresh produce delivered each week over the growing season.
Why a CSA Might Not be Right For You? There are a few reasons a CSA may not make sense for your family. First, it does require you buy up front. That can mean a big chunk of money you may not have. Then, you may not get to pick what gets delivered. If your box arrives with a boatload of leeks, your family may not enjoy having leeks at every meal!
Where to Find a CSA Near You? If you want to investigate joining a CSA, I’ve found Local Harvest to be a great source of information.
If you rule out a CSA, a trip to the You-Pick-It Farm is a great alternative!
You-Pick-It Farms offer great seasonal produce at reduced prices. I love a day at the U-Pick-It farm! The prices are great, and you can really focus on what your family loves to eat. Make sure you turn the day into a fun family outing. I know I’m always happy to pick apples with my family then reward ourselves with some delicious apple fritters. Again, find some great ways to properly preserve your bounty – in the case of apples: applesauce or apple pies – and you will be rewarded for your efforts month, after month, after month.
Finally a Note about Organic Versus Conventionally Grown
How Can You Possibly Save on Organics???? I won’t lie and say organically grown isn’t expensive. It can be. But I do believe the benefits to your health and our world merit purchasing some of my produce organically grown. Follow the seasons and keep a price list and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Or, consider only buying organically grown produce only if it is on the dirty dozen list . By doing so, you cut your family’s exposure to pesticides by 80%! Not ready to take the full plunge? Look at what your family eats the most. Is it apples? Or maybe you can’t live without grapes? If that item is on the dirty dozen list, make the commitment to buying just that one item organically grown and you can drastically reduce your exposure to pesticides.
Do you have some saving strategies for produce? I’d love to hear them!
Andrea Green is the author of The Greenbacks Gal, a frugal, green living website. She is always looking for ways to save money while saving our planet.