With rising food costs, make a plan for including fruits and vegetables when shopping to get the most out of your purchases. Take a look at these tips to help you get nutritious meals at a lower cost and with less food waste!

Bulk Produce
There are some items in the produce department that you can buy loose or in bulk, but which is the best buy? That depends on the item, storage space, how long you can keep it and how fast you will use it. Items like apples can be kept fairly long in or out of the refrigerator, so if your family will use them before they spoil a 3lb bag may be a good option. Take advantage of the unit pricing on shelf tags to see they best buy.

Soon To Spoil
Check to see if your grocery store has an area with produce that is soon to spoil with discounted prices. Many times these items have bruises or will go bad in the coming days, but are still perfectly good to use.

Coupons can be your best friend when it comes to saving money. While you may still find some paper coupons in the newspaper, many will be found virtually. This may be online or on your grocery store’s app.

Store Sales
Sales are great times to save money. Sales may be just one day or even a month, but keep an eye out online, in flyers, and in store for sales.

Store Rewards Card
Most grocery stores have a store rewards card that is free. Take advantage of the program to earn points and save money, even if it is on gas to get you to and from the store.

Shopping List
Before going to the store make a list of what you need so you are less likely to make impulse purchases. Check out your store’s current sales flyer so you know what items you may want to stock up on, including produce.

Store Brands
There are many brands of every product available, but have you ever tried the store brands? Many of these brands are comparable to national brands, but at a much lower price. Pick them up during your next trip, you never know if you will like them until you try. Some retailers even have their own brands in the produce section.

In Season Produce
While we can get most produce items year-round, they are not necessarily in-season all the time. When they are in-season, we can get them at a lower price. Take advantages of these times. Educate yourself on what produce is in-season throughout the year by reviewing Produce for Better Health’s guide (What Fruits & Vegetables are in Season? – Have A Plant (fruitsandveggies.org))

Fresh Vs. Frozen Vs. Canned
Produce items come in a variety of forms, including fresh, frozen and canned. Although fresh is generally highlighted, all forms provide excellent nutrition. Frozen and canned produce tends to be less expensive than fresh. Compare prices for the different forms and take into consideration when, how and for what you will be using the item for.

Stretch Your Meals
Many meat-based meals can be costly due to increasing meat prices. Take advantage of produce (in all forms) to stretch your meals. Whether you choose to create a vegetarian meal or substitute half of the meat in a recipe, produce can stretch your meals to feed even more people. For example, replace half the ground beef in your tacos with chopped mushrooms.

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