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Frugal Friday: Making the Most of In Season Produce


One of the ways we cut costs at our house is to stock up on grocery items when they are on sale. Regular readers are familiar with my weekly Grocery Geek posts and can testify to the fact that if it’s a good price, I’ll buy a lot of it, like 100 pounds of flour.

Stocking up is a particularly good habit as it relates to fresh produce. Now that summer is in full swing, this is the time to take advantage of great prices on fruits and vegetables.

But, how can you make the most of what’s in season?

1. Let the sales and low prices determine your menu for the week. Those who subscribe to CSAs understand the concept, as do those who live in areas rich in agriculture. When the corn is ripe, corn’s on the menu!

Let your produce section, farmer’s market, or your own garden be your guide to meal planning. Now is the time for fresh tomatoes and sweet cherries, not pumpkins and squash. Tammy’s Recipes weekly features an in-season recipe swap. Check it out for inspiration about how to fix what’s ripe this week.

2. Experiment with new recipes. You may not be familiar with all the different ways to prepare a certain fruit or vegetable, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying them. Spend a few minutes online searching for recipes that you might like to try. We were pleasantly surprised to find that sweet cherries (as opposed to tart, pie cherries) still make a great pie. FishPapa was shocked that it didn’t taste like those baked by Dolly Madison and said I may have redeemed the cherry pie for him. Amen to that!

Experiment and try new things out. Katie @ goodLife{eats} regularly posts delicious recipes using fresh produce, like these warm-weather recipes. Her recent Cherry-Limeade Cupcakes inspired me to tweak my favorite muffin recipe with the same flavors. Try my Cherry Limeade Muffins if you’ve got a handle on some sweet (& cheap) cherries.

3. Process your own produce for canning and freezing. Our grandmothers knew a thing or two that’s been lost over the years. One of those things is the lost art of food preservation. Several years ago when we lived in a more rural area, I taught myself to can. I loved seeing rows upon rows of olallieberry jam jars lined up on my counter after a few sweaty hours of hard work.

I live too far from the olallieberry fields these days, but I recently picked up a small truckload of sweet cherries and strawberries for great prices – $0.99 and $0.69 per pound, respectively. We ate a bunch fresh, baked up another portion in muffins, pies, and scones, and then packaged the rest for freezing. I now have several bags of both fruits in my freezer for baking and smoothies. The price of doing this myself is far lower than I would pay for the pre-frozen equivalent. This summer $5 Dinners has shared how she made the most of great farm-stand veggies, like this squash for soup next fall.

With a little work (and maybe some cherry-stained hands), you can enjoy fresh produce on the day you buy it and beyond. Just watch the prices and be adventurous.

Have you got a great money saving idea? Please share it with us!

In the interest of exchanging good ideas, please do not post affiliate links, giveaways or deal posts. Instead tell us what you do to stretch your dollars a little farther. Share concepts and ideas that have helped you grow in saving money.

Write about your money saving tip on your blog and bring the permalink to that post here. Please make sure that you link to LifeasMOM.com in your post.

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Comments

  1. sunnymama says:

    Sorry, I just posted my link on last weeks frugal friday post by mistake but have posted it here now :)

  2. dancingwithdaffodils says:

    I love berry season! Every year, we can jars and jars of jam that we enjoy year round as a sweet reminder of this wonderful time of year. Jars of jam are always on hand for last minute hostess gifts and the like.

  3. I just bought a HUGE watermelon(it was on sale and I got carried away). I have diced it up and put int in containers in the fridge. There are only two of us and I am afraid we won't be able to eat it all in time. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks :)

    Amanda @ Coping with Frugality

    • centsability says:

      @Amanda, You can make two things from that watermelon: 1. Juice. Just put the watermelon pieces in a blender and blend to desired consistency, adding a little sugar to taste. 2. Take the juice and make homemade popsicles from it! They’ll taste just like those real watermelon pops you can sometimes buy, remember those? Super yummy.

  4. Katie @ goodLife {eats} says:

    Amanda – Watermelon Lemonade
    is a great way to use up watermelon! I bet you could freeze cubed watermelon for use in smoothies or slushies.

    Jessica – you pretty much touched on all my favorite frugal food tips! Last year I canned salsa when the price was really low on tomatoes. I have 2 jars left and it's been almost a year. I can see that I'm going to have lots of bell peppers in my garden, so I'll probably use this tip and freeze some for later use.

  5. Hoosier Homemade says:

    I've been buying strawberries at Aldi's for .99, you can't pick them for that. But, I will be picking blueberries soon.
    Thanks for hosting another great FF!
    ~Liz

  6. Katie @ goodLife {eats} says:

    I linked up my post about DIY Home Spa Tips. We all enjoy pampering, but it can get expensive.

  7. FishMama says:

    Amanda, I would agree with Katie. Since you've got the watermelon already processed, I'd pop your containers into the freezer. It won't be great for fresh eating, but it will be just fine for the applications she mentions.

    To conserve space, you could juice it before freezing. Just run it through the blender and then pour it through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the solids to get the juices out. I have a friend who buys watermelon juice at Trader Joe's, so you could drink it plain or add it to lemonade of slushies, like Katie said.

  8. Sarah Eliza @ devastateboredom says:

    Love this post! It ties beautifully in with mine. I wish I could stock up to the same degree as you, but living in an apartment (with a roommate at that!) makes it so hard. I look forward to a little more settled stage in life, when I can have awesome things like a pantry and big freezer lol. At that point I'll follow your advice word for word…

  9. Your fruit looks so good. We just picked 10 pounds of blueberries last weekend!

  10. LOVE these tips. Buying in-season definitely helps save money. Looking through some of the links brought me to a question …. When’s the last time you got flour for $1.50/5 lbs.? I never saw a good flour sale either at Christmas or Easter this last year and I’m really bummed about having to pay $3.00+ for it now! :(

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Sharon, Albertsons had it close to that this past winter. It’s not a regular thing, though. I usually buy the 10# bag at Walmart now. I can’t remember how much it is, though.

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