In my efforts to stay in my skinny jeans, I try to keep my fruit and veggie consumption a wee bit higher than my cookie consumption.
There are only 2 problems here:
1. cookies are essential to my being
2. produce is expensive
But the key to life is balance right? Thankfully, I’ve found quite a few successful ways to have a good supply of fruits and veggies on hand without completely emptying my wallet.
Saving on Smoothies: I drink a smoothie for breakfast almost everyday and love how I get a nice boost of nutrients to get me going in the morning. The only downside is that smoothie drinking can get pretty expensive. When I first started making them, I relied on the standard combo of frozen mixed berries, a banana, a scoop of yogurt, and some juice. I’ll break down how I’ve found ways to save money on my morning smoothies.
Instead of buying frozen fruit, I now rely on seasonal produce and store sales to supply the fruit for my smoothies. One of my favorite places to buy fruit is at Aldis. Aldis sometimes gets a bad rep, but if you sort through the produce you can find the same quality produce you can get at a grocery store for a fraction of the cost. In each week’s ad, Aldis has “produce picks,” which are in season fruits at a sale price. This week I picked up pints of blueberries for $1.69 per pint, compared to my regular grocery store’s price of $3.99, or a savings of almost 60%. Grocery stores also have weekly ads that typically include fresh fruit, although it really depends on the season. After purchasing, all you have to do is wash and prepare the fruit and lay it on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Put the cookie sheet with the fruit on it in the freezer and freeze until the fruit becomes solid. This is called “dry freezing.” After freezing, simply scrape or shake the fruit into a freezer bag and store in the freezer until you make your next smoothie! The dry freeze step is really important. If you skip this step, your fruit will freeze together into a big, clumpy block. Living in the Midwest, I understand that in the wintertime fresh produce is expensive. In the wintertime, I do the best I can by buying bulk bags of frozen fruit. I don’t drink smoothies in the winter as much anyway, as I usually crave a warm bowl of oatmeal.
I’ve learned that in order to save on smoothies, it is important to try not to be too brand loyal. I’ve tried different liquids in my smoothies (almond milk, water, and other juices) but I still seem to prefer orange juice the most. Instead of buying the same orange juice every week, I try to look for sales or price cuts on different brands. I’m not really a huge fan of eating vegetables on their own so I usually try to blend some up into my smoothie. (I know, I was wary too. You really can’t taste them!) My favorites are: carrots, cucumbers (with seeds scooped out), collared greens, and spinach. If the veggies are on sale, its a good way to bulk up your smoothie and get some extra nutrients. Make sure you blend it a little longer though.
Seasonal Produce: Buying seasonally is THE easiest way to save money on produce. Seasonal produce varies by your region so I would recommend googling “seasonal produce chart” + your area/state for the most accurate information. Of course, the produce sales at a grocery store mainly revolve around seasonal produce, so if you follow the ad you’ll be fine! Another great place to check is at a farmer’s market. Not only is it great to buy local, farmers market prices are usually lower and if you go towards the end of the day they sometimes mark down their fresh inventory.
Warehouse Memberships: Being that I eat a lot of fresh produce and rely on a lot of pantry staples for my meals, a warehouse membership could be a good option. Warehouses offer produce and other grocery items at a bulk or discounted price, which adds up to a pretty considerable savings after a while. However, you do need to factor in the membership cost and the cost of unused food as a result of buying in bulk. For one person, I don’t really see warehouse memberships as very beneficial. Sure, I might be able to get a 5 pack of romaine hearts for a discounted price, but who wants to eat up that much lettuce in a week? Saving money at the store only to get home and end up not using the item doesn’t do anybody any good. My advice is to be realistic. Think about what you eat in a week and how much food you go through and then consider whether a warehouse membership is a good option for you. Oftentimes, shopping weekly sales and supplementing it with the occasional coupon can get you the same, if not more savings than you would at a warehouse.
- Sometimes produce gets marked down as a “quick sale” item. This can mean a great deal for you, provided the product is still usable. Make sure you look at the expiration date and the quality of the produce before you make your purchase.
- In the summertime, grab your friends or boyfriend and consider looking for a local berry patch. You pick your own berries and score fresh produce at a fraction of the cost.
- Do it yourself. It is convenient to have your watermelon all precut, but you will definitely pay for it. Save yourself a few bucks and cut it up yourself.