Eating fresh produce and a lot of it can be costly if not done right. Here are a few key things I put together that may help you better budget for extra fruits and veggies!
1. Frequent your produce stands and farmers markets! Not only is the produce locally grown and in season but most farm stands or markets have day old produce for really cheap. I stopped by my market today and got some bruised banans that are perfect for smoothies and they were discounted 50% off the markets regular price (and their regular price is already pretty cheap for our area). Here is a good site to search for local farmers markets in your areas. http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/
2. Be choosey about the organics. While I will advocate for organic foods as much as you can afford because organic foods are much healthier for us, have more nutrients, more living enzymes, and come without the chemicals and pesticides, it can get costly to buy all organic. Choose from the dirty dozen / clean 15 list. Be sure to buy all the dirty dozen foods organic and save money by purchasing locally grown non organic from the clean 15 list. Some of your local produce stands might just use organic methods but don’t certify their products as organic due to the cost which will then raise their prices in turn cutting into their profits and likelyhood to sell. That is yet another reason to shop your local stands and markets. Here is a link with the list of the dirty dozen / clean 15. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
3. Join a co-op or buying club. This route is an excellent way to keep produce costs down while supporting local agriculture efforts on a scale that’s even more intimate than shopping at a local farmers market. In addition to produce, you may also get things like farm-fresh eggs, baked goods, cheeses, honey and more. Here are a few links to help you find a co-op or buying club in your area.
4. Buy in bulk! Sam’s club does some organic produce. Not a huge selection but every little bit counts. My local Sam’s club sells big tubs of organic spinach for the cost of the small bags in most supermarkets. They also have organic spring mix and a few other organic choices. You could also buy the clean 15 from them in bulk to save money.
5. Buy in season. This is a big one. Buying in season not only cut your cost but is also much more nutritious. When food is not in season locally, it’s either grown in a hothouse or shipped in from other parts of the world, and both affect the taste, nutrients, and cost
6. Grow your own! Even a small patio is enough space to grow whatever produce you can. Grow some potted herbs or small plants that climb. Sweet potatoes in a tote are easy to grow and you get the benefit of the greens as well. You can eat the sweet potato vine! We are talking about the edible sweet potato, not the ornamental sweet potato vine. Those are NOT edible. However, if you grow sweet potatoes they will produce a climbing vine that is very easy to grow and it grows pretty fast. Not to mention it is very tasty as a salad green or in smoothies and loaded with nutrients. And then you get to pick some sweet potatoes to boot! Best of both worlds! 😉 My two year old and I love basil and banana smoothies. They give you a good boost of energy, have a refreshing cool flavor to it, and has a good bit of nutrients. Basil is easy to grow in pots and can be used to make fresh pesto, smoothies, and many other recipes. The bottom line is there are a lot of easy maintenance and easy to grow items you could grow at home or even on a patio! It doesn’t get any fresher than your back yard. 😉