Since the previous post in this series covered how to save money on grass-fed organic meat, today we’re going to focus on fruits and vegetables! These are my favorite places to find affordable organic produce (or just produce in general) at the best prices.
Where to Find Affordable Organic Produce
While some farmers or stores label their produce specifically as “organic”, always make sure to ask if it’s not labeled.
Many farmers raise their crops with little or no chemicals, but don’t market them as organic. Sometimes this is because of all the paperwork required for certification.
If you’re not sure, it never hurts to ask! Most people will gladly tell you how they grow their produce (unless you’re in a grocery store, but that produce is usually labeled).
One of my favorite ways to find organic produce (when I don’t have a garden or can’t grow a certain variety) is to shop at farmer’s markets.
At farmer’s markets, you can not only support local farmers, both established and hobbyists, and buy your groceries, but they often have lots of other cool things.
Some things I’ve seen at farmer’s markets in the past include soaps, candles, knitted goods, and jewelry in addition to meat, eggs, honey, produce, and baked goods! There’s really something for everybody.
Tip #1: Go to farmer’s markets at the end of the day to get a better price
When you’re shopping for fresh produce at the farmer’s market, go toward the end of the day. Due to the perishable nature of these products, farmers really don’t want to have to take them home and deal with them.
To cut down on the amount they have to haul back to the farm, they will often discount fruits and vegetables that won’t keep very well until the next market. Not everyone does this, but if you go at the right time you might just be able to get a good deal.
If you live in a rural area like I do, it might be a bit trickier to find organic produce. Often, small town stores can’t sell organic produce fast enough since it costs a bit more than conventional, so they just don’t stock any at all.
However, if you live in or close enough to a town with a grocery store large enough to carry organic produce, you can let them know you appreciate their carrying it by being a repeat customer. If you’re a bit further away, maybe you can plan a larger shopping trip once a month or so and stock up on some of the less perishable produce and other staples.
Tip #2: Check out the discount section
This tip applies to both conventional and organic produce, but sometimes grocery stores will have a separate section that has produce that’s starting to wilt or is technically past its “use by” date but hasn’t gone bad yet.
You can usually find some really good deals here since they’re marked down to sell faster.
If you’re buying something that can be frozen (such as broccoli, cauliflower, or berries) and won’t use it before it goes fully bad, simply stick it in the freezer until you need it.
When you grow your food, you know exactly what is used to grow it. Planting and tending a garden does take work, but it can save you money in the long run.
Gardening doesn’t have to be overly complicated, either. You can still get a big return on your time and money investment by planting only a couple varieties.
If you’ve never had a garden and want to know how to get started, check out this post for the best resources for beginning gardeners.
Tip #3: Plant things that give you more of a return for less work
Check out my post on how to plan a low-maintenance garden for my favorite vegetables that take little money and effort to grow and still give you a large harvest!
Other People’s Gardens
This one is probably the best of these four places/tips because often people will give you their extra produce for free. And you don’t even have to grow it yourself like when you have your own garden.
Depending on where you live, there might be certain things that grow the best that people have coming out of their ears. In my area, that tends to be zucchini and cucumbers.
Whatever it is in your area, if you don’t hate it, learn how to use it and let people know you’re willing to take any extra they might have. It’s a great way to make friends and save money at the same time.
Tip #4: Give them some homemade in return for their generosity
While most people will give you their extra produce for free so they don’t have to watch it go bad, it’s a nice gesture to do something for them in return.
My favorite way to thank someone for this type of gift is to give them something homemade from the kitchen in return. Be careful, don’t necessarily give them something made with the produce they just gave you. They might be sick of it already!
Whether you give them something from the kitchen, something else you’ve made, or even just a nice thank you card, it’s nice to show your gratitude for their generosity.
I hope you enjoyed these tips on how to find the best deal on organic produce, wherever you live. Stay tuned for the next post in this series, or check it out below if you’re reading this post after the series is done.
Check out my Real Food on a Budget series:
- How to Afford Healthy Food on a Budget
- How to Save Money on Grass-fed Organic Meat
- Where to Find Affordable Organic Produce (you’re here!)
- How to Get the Most Nutrient Dense Food for Your Money
- More posts on the way!
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