How to Buy Better Produce for Less

Get your daily serving of vegetables and fruits—and save a few bucks while you’re at it.

Unfortunately, produce often costs a pretty penny. But it’s also a necessary part of a healthy diet. Before your next grocery run, take time to review these money-saving tips.

  • Swap out your colors: Orange and yellow bell peppers are significantly cheaper than their red cousins, and they’re only slightly less sweet. If you’re making a recipe that calls for red bell peppers, save some money and go with a different hue.
  • Buy items in the peak of their season: Fruits and vegetables don't carry as high a price tag when they are at the peak of their growing season. In addition to being a good value, seasonal produce also tastes best because it's picked in its prime. To find a list of seasonal produce, visit fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.
  • Buy in bulk, then cut and freeze leftovers: Found a large bag of vegetables on sale? Grab it, even if it’s more than you need. Use the extras to make soups, stews or a healthful frittata for a weekend brunch, or chop and freeze it in airtight bags.
  • Cut things yourself: You pay for convenience with precut fruits and veggies such as bagged lettuce, pre-sliced apples and shredded carrots. Buy produce uncut, and when you get home from the store, spend 15 to 20 minutes chopping it. Fill baggies and containers with the prepped fruits and veggies so they're easy to grab.
  • Try something new:  Cooking with unfamiliar produce can be intimidating, but don’t let it be. If something is on sale or in season that you’ve never heard of, do a quick Google search on your smartphone. Don’t be afraid to buy just a little and try it out, or use it in a familiar dish. If you’re at the farmer’s market, talk to the farmer about what the item is, what it’s similar to, and how to prepare it.
  • Load up on the clean 15:  When it comes to the dirty dozen, it’s important to buy organic. But that can be costly. Stock up on items in the clean 15—onions, avocados, mangoes, asparagus, cabbage, eggplant, broccoli, tomatoes—so you can avoid the extra cost.