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Frugal Friday: Making the Most of In Season Produce

Posted By Jessica Fisher On July 10, 2009 @ 3:02 am In Frugal Friday,Meal Planning,Summertime | 15 Comments

One of the ways we cut costs at our house is to stock up [5] on grocery items when they are on sale. Regular readers are familiar with my weekly Grocery Geek posts [6] 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 [7].

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 [9] weekly features an in-season recipe swap [10]. 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} [12] regularly posts delicious recipes using fresh produce, like these warm-weather recipes [13]. Her recent Cherry-Limeade Cupcakes inspired me to tweak my favorite muffin recipe with the same flavors. Try my Cherry Limeade Muffins [14] 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 [16] 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 [17] has shared how she made the most of great farm-stand veggies, like this squash for soup [18] 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.

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[4] Image: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_89L9ZoBsR08/SlagvVr726I/AAAAAAAAFgQ/Ks0S41-caIM/s1600-h/FrugalFriday.png

[5] stock up: http://www.lifeasmom.com/2008/10/stocking-up.html

[6] weekly Grocery Geek posts: http://www.lifeasmom.com/category/Grocery%20Geek

[7] 100 pounds of flour: http://www.lifeasmom.com/2009/04/grocery-geek-presents-i-even-shocked.html

[8] Image: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_89L9ZoBsR08/SlaUDN8PrLI/AAAAAAAAFgI/vmRVq_UY3ik/s1600-h/Blog+878.jpg

[9] Tammy’s Recipes: http://tammysrecipes.com/

[10] in-season recipe swap: http://www.tammysrecipes.com/taxonomy/term/153

[11] Image: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_89L9ZoBsR08/SlazlYXNQWI/AAAAAAAAFgo/p5STrE1ZTWY/s1600-h/Blog+035.JPG

[12] goodLife{eats}: http://good-life-eats.blogspot.com/

[13] these warm-weather recipes: http://good-life-eats.blogspot.com/category/warm-weather%20recipes

[14] Cherry Limeade Muffins: http://www.goodcheapeats.com/2009/07/cherry-limeade-muffins.html

[15] Image: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_89L9ZoBsR08/Slazk3g8kbI/AAAAAAAAFgg/ApTK8ZMS3eU/s1600-h/Blog+Food+044.JPG

[16] olallieberry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olallieberry

[17] $5 Dinners: http://www.5dollardinners.com?a_aid=fishmama

[18] this squash for soup: http://www.5dollardinners.com/2009/07/zucchini-freezer-soup.html

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