Cut grocery costs by making the most of in-season produce. Here are some tips to get the best prices and enjoy the fruit of the season.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall — all you got to do is haul yourself down to the farmer’s market or grocery store to find all kinds of amazing, delicious, and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s incredible what deals you can find of fresh produce when you buy them in-season.
Not only does in-season produce taste better, but it’s also more readily available and affordable. It makes no sense to buy strawberries in December — unless you live in the southern hemisphere where strawberries would be in season.
One of the ways you can dramatically cut costs at your house is to stock up on grocery items when they are on sale. Take advantage of great prices on fruits and vegetables and save money.
But, how can you make the most of what’s in season?
Making the most of in-season produce
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 or who grow their own food. When the corn is ripe, corn’s on the menu!
If yours isn’t an agricultural background, there’s no reason you should walk in fruits and vegetable ignorance. Just know that when food is in-season, it will cost you less and taste better.
Let your produce section, farmer’s market, or your own garden be your guide to meal planning. Not sure what to do with all those tomatoes in summer or the apples that come in season in fall?
Check out these posts for inspiration:
- Eat Well and Spend Less with Spring Produce
- Eat Well and Spend Less with Summer Produce
- 78 Ways to Enjoy Fall Produce
- How to Find Fresh Produce When You’re a Gardening Loser
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! I’ll also be using my summer stockpile of cherries in Cherries Jubilee and Cherry Limeade Muffins.
And Butternut Squash Brownies are an awesome use for all that winter squash.
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.
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.
Doesn’t this just apply to summer?
Summer is a tremendous season for harvesting and enjoying in-season produce, but it’s not the only time to make good use of fresh fruit and produce. You can make the most of in-season produce sales all year long.
Check out these lists of what’s plentiful and on sale and when to snatch it up:
Spring in-season produce
Summer in-season produce
- stone fruit, such as peaches, plums, nectarines, and cherries
- melons such as watermelon and canteloupe
- berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries, and blueberries
- summer squash, such as zucchini and patty pan
- sweet and hot peppers
- sweet corn
Fall in-season produce
- winter squash, such as butternut, pumpkin, and spaghetti squash
- sweet potatoes
- Brussels sprouts
Winter in-season produce
- citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit
- pears and apples
- leeks, onions, shallots, garlic
- cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale
- cauliflower, broccoli and broccoli rabe
- carrots and radishes
- weird stuff, like parsnips, turnips, rutabagas
Making the most of in-season produce will not only benefit your budget, but it will also make your life so tasty!