Budget Vegetable Buying

Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Vegetables are at the base of my Low-Carb Food Pyramid, because non-starchy vegetables should take up more room on our plates that any other food. So looking carefully at our vegetable shopping is a "must" for the budget-conscious.

The Best Cost-Saving Vegetable Tip

Do you ever stare at the vegetable drawer in your refrigerator and think, "I don't even want to look in there"? If so, you may be falling into one of the biggest money-wasters when it comes to vegetables: buying too much. The best advice is simply to plan carefully. If you don't end up eating it when you intended to, freeze if possible. Some vegetables, such as peppers, can simply be cut up and dropped into a zip-lock bag. Others, like spinach, can be wilted in a hot pan first (seriously, it takes less than two minutes). But don't wait until they start to get yucky! Freeze as soon as you start to think you might not eat the veggies right away. That way, they will not only have the best flavor, but you will preserve nutrients, which tend to degrade with even a few extra days of storage. Here's some help: Vegetable Freezing Guide From Diana Rattray, About.com Guide to Southern Food

How to Freeze Celery, Tomatoes, Herbs, Eggs, Milk, and Other Surprising Foods

Buy Seasonally

The price of vegetables varies throughout the year, and if you understand the annual cycles, you can plan. Sometimes newspapers will have a column telling what produce will have good prices in upcoming weeks. Erin Huffstetler, About.com's Guide to Frugal Living, has a Month-by-Month List of the Least Expensive Vegetables and Fruits.

Depending on the time of year, any given vegetable might be more expensive in frozen or in fresh form, so cross-check now and then.

Buy Local, and Get to Know Your Farmers and Grocers

Buying direct from farmers at Farmer's Markets and, especially, CSAs (farm subscription boxes) is often, but not always, less expensive. Another benefit of knowing your local farmer is that you can often make deals to take produce that might have a little insect or weather damage, but is otherwise fine to eat.

Likewise, notice that the vegetables at your store look pretty much perfect. When they start to "go", what happens to them? Talk to your grocer and see if you can get them free or severely discounted.

Plant an Easy Garden

Consider growing what you can. Herbs are easy to grow, and some easy vegetables such as zucchini need very little care. Composting yard waste and kitchen scraps makes inexpensive and high-quality "fertilizer" and is not hard to do.

Not a Gardener? Check Out That Empty Lot!

Try a new hobby: foraging! I once saw a show where people went through London finding edible plants. Of course, you have to be careful about avoiding private property and heavily-sprayed areas, but you might be surprised which weeds are tasty and nutritious, and your neighbor won't mind at all when you offer to pull them up!

Finding Fiddlehead Ferns From About.com's Local Foods Site

A Forager Speaks From About.com's Local Foods Site

Edible Weeds - From About.com's Landscaping Site

Edible Flowers - From About.com's Home Cooking Site More Vegetable Help:

How to Save on Organics - From About.com's Frugal Living Site

Fruits and Vegetables on a Budget - From About.com's Diabetes Site


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